Stage make-up recommendations, copious sweat edition
March 17, 2019 9:30 AM   Subscribe

My ballet teacher asked me to be in the year end recital; putting my 43 year old ass into a white tutu also means I'll have to do some form of stage makeup. My makeup stash is non-existent thanks to my wee tots smearing what little I had all over their face/body/hair/bathroom. Please give me your product suggestions and techniques.

My makeup skills are probably more out of shape than I am, and I haven't done stage makeup in 20+ years.

In my dream utopia, whatever I would buy would also be useful for normal use as well. But I sweat quite a bit and get pretty flushed while dancing, so I'll probably need some form of full coverage foundation instead of my normal tinted moisturizer BB cream.

That which survived the Surreptitious Kiddie Princess Parties:
  • Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner in Black & Brown
  • Lancome eye pencils in black & brown.
  • Smash Box under eye concealer
  • Grande Mascara
We're basically building from the ground up here.

Primers? Contouring? HD powder? Eyeshadow palettes? Setting spray? What are your essentials and favorite tricks?
posted by romakimmy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For a ballet stage, most of the time I see almost clownishly accentuated eyes and lips up close, which from a stage distance look normal and just make your features visible. Like red or fushia lipstick and fully lined and mascaraed eyes with some noticibly colored eye shadow that complements your costume. I dont think you'll find much crossover between stage makeup and much more suble makeup for normal distances that you would interact.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:03 AM on March 17, 2019

I would head straight to YouTube for this. There are many good ballerina stage makeup tutorials and get-ready-with-me videos that show professional dancers applying their typical performance faces.

That said, for me it used to to be: on clean moisturized face (usually moisturized twice, with some time in between, because I have dry skin), Max Factor pan stick foundation followed by translucent powder applied thickly and then dusted off a few minutes later. Then bronzer to contour, then blush, then highlight (I used opalescent eyeshadow back then). Sometimes used an eyeliner (eg to define nose bridge) or darker foundation if more dramatic contouring was needed. Then more foundation on lips and eyelids as primer. Another dusting of powder on eyelids, then dark brown and burgundy eyeshadows to create depth in the crease, then opalescent light eyeshadow on brow bone and the center of eyelids as highlight. Dramatic wings with black liner, ideally liquid. Careful cleanup of lines with a damp q-tip. Heavy mascara and then fake lashes. Lipliner and lipstain and gloss, sometimes using a lighter color as a highlight. I always tried to get a long distance look at myself, like looking at a mirror at the end of a long hall, or in a pinch asking someone else to look at me from stage distance, so I could adjust as needed.

A shade darker rather than lighter is better for foundation, as the lights will wash you out. Don't forget to cover your chest and arms and ask for help on your back if needed. Brown-undertone lipsticks have a tendency to look muddy, clear red or blue-undertone deep pinks tend to look better unless your skin tone just hates them. If you're going to be part of an ensemble, they may have required shades for lipstick and eyeshadow.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:47 AM on March 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

OH, to answer your sweat concerns: an indispensable thing was antiperspirant. Applied everywhere. Underarms, underbust, down the middle of the back, and on forehead and temples a good half hour or more before you make up. Just straight up use it under moisturizer as a primer if you have to. No, it's not great to do this regularly... But (as you recognize) exertion and the heat of the lights and many bodies in a small space and stage nerves means sweat, and there's nothing worse than worrying if your face is sliding off, on top of everything else.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

A concealer caution: get something without SPF. The SPF particles will reflect stage lights and also any flash if you take cast photos before or after, and make your face look ghostly.

Other than that, when I was dancing I usually did heavier-than-usual of everything: foundation, blush, mascara and sometimes false eyelashes, winged eyeliner both top and bottom, and a red or pink lip. I used neutral eyeshadow (just a lot more than usual). My ballet teacher described it as "heavy street makeup"--to look natural from far away and other lights, and a bit over-the-top up close.
posted by assenav at 1:41 PM on March 17, 2019

OH and a primer underneath will help you not sweat off your foundation.
posted by assenav at 1:42 PM on March 17, 2019

I would look into getting a small stage-brand kit, like this Mehron or these from Jam, and then working the products into an everyday look by using a lighter hand/low contrast color choice.

To me, going the other direction, consumer brands to stage makeup, is going to be labor intensive! There are a zillion formulations out there now, and the primer, contour, and foundation have to be compatible, otherwise they'll separate before you even start sweating.

Some brands have "workout" lines this season: Clinique, Wet n Wild, E.L.F., you might find some sweat-compatible products there.

Here's some tips from the Rockettes you may find helpful. And def. look at some youtubes of ballet looks (and drag queens!) when you're designing your look. Good luck, and have fun!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 3:05 PM on March 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding straight to YouTube. I especially recommend looking for makeup tutorial videos by Latrice Royale -- she's a drag queen who famously sweats A Lot. Obviously you don't want to copy her face exactly, but you can get an idea of what products she uses and how she keeps from just sweating her face off in ten seconds.
posted by kalimac at 3:20 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

You want a finishing spray to hold everything in place. Ben Nye (a professional stage makeup company) makes the best one, but Nyx Matte Finish will work too, and it's a drugstore brand. It's really the only way to keep makeup in place when you're sweating.
posted by ananci at 3:32 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

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