How to Apply Stage Makeup

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Before and After Stage Makeup

Before and After. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Dancers, even young ones, wear makeup on stage in order to make their faces and expressions visible to the audience. Makeup can emphasize facial features that would otherwise be washed out by stage lights.

Follow these simple steps to create a perfect, stage-ready face.

(Some dance instructors have special requirements for applying stage makeup, especially for their own recitals and performances, so check first.)

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Apply Foundation

Apply foundation. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Foundation is used to even out the complexion and reduce shadows from stage lights. Always apply foundation to a clean face. Choose a shade very similar to the color of the face.

Using a makeup sponge, apply an even coat of foundation to the entire face, including under the chin, onto the neck, around the ears and up to the hairline. Blend carefully to ensure an even application. Set the foundation with a small amount of powder.

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Apply Blush

Apply blush. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Blush adds color as well as definition to the face. Choose a blush color similar to the natural color of the cheeks. Smile and apply blush to the apples of the cheeks, sweeping up and out toward the hairline.

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Apply Eye Shadow

Eye shadow. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Apply eyeshadow over the entire eyelid. Pick a color family that will make your eyes stand out on stage, as stage lights tend to make the eyes appear smaller. The color will depend on the color of your eyes as well as your skin tone. Choose three complementary colors, applying the darkest shade near the eye, the medium shade above the eyelid crease, and the lightest shade under the eyebrow. Remember to slightly blend the colors together.

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Apply Eyeliner

Apply eyeliner. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Lining the eyes with black eyeliner makes them really stand out. Use a liquid eyeliner on the top lid and a pencil liner on the bottom. (Use a pencil liner for both lids on very young dancers.)

To line the upper lid, apply a thin, straight line starting from the inner corner. For a dramatic effect, allow the line to extend beyond the natural eyelid.

To line the lower lid, start at the outer corner of the eye and draw a thin line under the lower lashes. The liner should start where the lashes begin and stop where they end on both eyelids.

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Apply Mascara

Apply mascara
Tracy Wicklund

Using black mascara, gently sweep two coats on upper and lower lashes. (Older dancers sometimes choose to wear false eyelashes. Young dancers may achieve similar results by applying several coats of mascara after curling the lashes with an eyelash curler.)

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Apply Red Lipstick

Apply red lipstick. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

Carefully apply a bright shade of red lipstick (or preferred color) to the upper and lower lips. Blot softly with a tissue.

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Ready for the Stage!

Ready for the Stage. Photo © Tracy Wicklund

After following the steps for basic stage makeup, stand back and smile. You are now ready to hit the stage. Break a leg!