How to Do Makeup for the Stage
Applying makeup for stage is very different to how you would do your makeup for every day or for going out with the girls on the weekend.
This is because the stage lights wash out color and also pour light down onto your forehead, nose and cheek bones. At the same time, it will darken your lips and chin.
There have been some occasions when I haven’t worn enough makeup and I’ve seen videos of myself on stage looking washed out. There was another time when I didn’t apply the correct type of concealer and even though I looked great in the bathroom mirror at home, on stage I looked like I had massive bags under my eyes. Definitely NOT the look I was going for.
So to help you out, here are some makeup tricks and tips that I have learned over my years of performing that you can use to ensure you look fabulous every time you get up there under the lights:
1. Foundation/ Base
- You want to use an oil free foundation. Particularly one that has a matte finish. This is because you will perspire under the stage lights and a dewy finish foundation will make you look way too shiny.
- Depending on the type of skin you have you don’t need to slather the foundation on. This is actually opposite to popular belief where most makeup artists will tell you that you need to apply heaps and heaps of base for the stage.
It is true that you do need to apply a lot when it comes to colors (i.e. eye and lips), and if you are doing makeup for video then you definitely need to be heavy handed here but for stage its a different story.
Applying too much foundation will make you perspire more and you can get beads of sweat building up on your forehead, upper lip and it makes the rest of your makeup run. It is really hot up there under those lights plus your adrenaline will be going because you have using a lot of energy to perform which contributes to the perspiration factor.
It might sound a bit gross, but I speak from experience. I’m not a ‘sweaty’ type of person but even I get hot under the stage lights. Plus the fact that the lights shine down on your forehead only emphasizes any beads of sweat.
Have blemishes to cover? Read on…
This is where you want to use a decent amount of coverage and you want to make sure you get the right kind of concealer for the type of blemishes you have. It will make a huge difference on stage.
Learn a bit more about the type of darkness you have under your eyes. Do you have puffiness? (Bags.) Or purple shading? (Lack of iron.) Spend some time fixing the problem naturally first.
Then use the right concealer i.e:
- For purple shadows under the eyes use a yellow based concealer or orange if you have a darker skin tone.
- And for any zits use a green concealer; this counteracts the redness.
- Use purple to cover any yellow patches in the skin.
I use: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger. (For Olive skin)
PRO TIP: Draw a triangle under your eye with one side going the side of your nose. Then blend. This is the best way to get maximum concealer coverage and still look natural.
3. Contouring & Highlighting
The stage lights will darken from the bottom of your nose down and will highlight your forehead, bridge of nose and cheeks.
So you want to the following with your contouring & highlighting:
- Highlight under your eyes and along the bridge of your nose. This will make your cheekbones look supermodel high and your nose look straight.
- Go heavy with the highlighter above your top lip line. This will bring them out and make your face look more proportionate.
- Don’t highlight the middle of your chin because it will make it look too prominent.
- If you have a large forehead, contour it well to reduce its size. The lights hit here and will make it look larger than it actually is, so contour away.
- Go REALLY heavy with your blush. This is what you need to give your face color. It will look ridiculous in the mirror at home, but it will look fabulous on stage.
1. Go heavy… but not with the eyeliner. Use your liner strategically to create an almond shaped eye.
For example: I have a long, thin-ish face and so I never line the inside of my eyes. Instead I use a white highlighter on the inner corner and usually add a wing to the outer eye to give me more space between the eyes and a nicer shaped eye.
PRO TIP: Any performer who is in the public eye and needs to look her best should learn about the shape of her face and eyes and apply makeup to compliment her features.
2. You will also want to use a liquid liner. Avoid pencils (unless they are waterproof) because they will run and give you panda eyes. I use Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black.
3. Don’t do a dark smoky eye. Avoid black. Browns are fine but remember that you will have more shadows on your face onstage and too much black around the eye will make them look sunken.
- If you have olive skin like I do, try using gold or French Brown.
- If you have light skin try pinks, greys and silver.
- If you have dark skin try orange. Gold works a treat too. You can actually get away with more color around the eyes.
- I love MAC’s Mineralize Eye Shadow Palate in Golden Hours because it has high pigment, gorgeous golds and goldy browns that stay put.
Use a bright colour and always line your lips. Don’t do a nude lip.
I use a lip stain like Revlon’s Colorstay Overtime in Ultimate Wine because its classic color and stays on throughout the whole performance. I never have time to reapply, even in the break because I’m out schmoozing with the crowd so make sure you have something that will stay on all night and not dry your lips out.
There is nothing worse than spending 15 minutes talking to fans only to realise your lipstick has worn off leaving you with a prominent lip liner look. Not attractive. I’ve had this happen to me before but never with the Revlon Lip Stain I mentioned above.
I hope you find these makeup for stage tips useful. I highly recommend getting a friend to video you when you are on stage next so you can see what you look like from a distance, under the lights and then you can use makeup to make any adjustments you need to.
If you have any super makeup tips that you would like to share, please let us all know in the comments below.
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Great article as always. Great tip about the non oily foundation. I suit a shiny face normally, so would have done that, now I know better!
Thanks Nicola, there you go helping me out again There were some nuggets of gold in this article and will say again thank you for how much helpful info you have given me as a newbie in the professional side of being a singer songwriter. Love your stuff xxx