Perfect Stage Makeup

The original post was published on on Monday, 30 July 2012. The text was white on white, so the text is tough to read unless you highlight the entire body of the article. To make it easier for everyone, I have copied and pasted the article here.

Let’s say you have decided to compete in your first contest and have already chosen your suit and accessories, booked your tanning appointment and, in an effort to keep costs down, decided to do your own makeup. If you have done stage makeup for other competitors then you most likely know what colors and techniques to use in order to avoid looking like a ghost onstage. However, if the extent of your makeup application skills has not ventured beyond bridal makeup and a nice going-out-on-the-town look, you might want to read on.


First and foremost, the foundation you use needs to be DARK. I mean really dark. Generally speaking, the color on your face needs to be only a shade or two lighter than the color on your body after you get your spray tan. For those of you familiar with MAC Foundation colors, Studio Tech NW43 or NW45 are excellent foundation shades for the majority of competitors. However, I do not like MAC foundations because 1) they are extremely comedogenic, and 2) the compacts dry out very quickly. Instead, I use Bobbi Brown Stick Foundation in Warm Walnut and that works very well onstage.

Make sure to gently exfoliate your skin prior to the day of the competition, and use moisturizer and primer immediately before applying foundation. Though I usually use a foundation brush to apply foundation for photo shoots, when working with very dark foundations for stage I find that a makeup sponge works better than a brush in applying a nice, thin yet even layer. Make sure to extend foundation onto your neck, ears and hairline, feathering out and blending. Once this is done, dust some translucent setting powder over the foundation to set it. Chanel makes an excellent loose powder which I love both for daily use and for shows.


Usually I will do my eye makeup first, then apply foundation since using a lot of black eyeshadow can often create a lot of dust which will ruin your foundation if you have applied it prior to your eye makeup. When choosing eyeshadow colors, avoid blues, greens and purples as they tend to look garish under the stage lights. Your best bet is to stick with neutral tones. You can never go wrong with a dramatic smoky eye. If you don’t know how to do a smoky eye, check out YouTube for some great smoky eye tutorials. Also check out the image in this article which shows a perfect smoky eye for the stage. Ideal colors to use for a stage-ready smoky eye are black, champagne or platinum, a beige base, brown and perhaps a warm pink.
Here are some guidelines for creating a smoky eye with the above colors:

1. Apply eye shadow primer. I like Too Faced Shadow Insurance.
2. Sweep a beige shadow (recommended: MAC Grain) over entire lid and up along browline.
3. Apply black eyeshadow (recommended: MAC Carbon) over lid but be careful NOT to extend beyond lid crease. Extend shadow beyond outer corner of eye in a V, angling towards brow. Blend well with a blending brush. Also apply black eyeshadow to the outer portion of the lower lash line.
4. Take a brown eyeshadow (recommended: MAC Brown Down) and work into crease at outer corners. Make sure to blend this well.
5. Take a warm pink (recommended: MAC Da Bling) and sweep it over the inner and mid-portion of the lid.
6. Apply the champagne (recommended: MAC Ricepaper) or platinum shade on the browbone, the center of the lid, and the inner corner of the eye.
7. Apply black liquid eyeliner along the upper lash line, sweeping up into a cat eye at the outer corners. Please refer to the image of cat eye liner for a guideline.

Don’t forget false eyelashes! Finish off with liquid eyeliner and lots of mascara.

Make sure to also fill in your brows. I find that shadows work much better than pencils at creating a flattering look.


Make sure to use a blush which is dark enough to show up on your face. MAC Dollymix is an excellent color for stage. I tend to extend the blush a bit into the side of the cheek below the cheekbone to avoid a hollowed out look, and will add a bit of bronzer to the blush when I do this.

Your contouring powder also needs to be dark, making MAC Deep Dark mineralized skin finish ideal for such a task. Apply contouring powder in an “E” on each side of the face, starting at the temple, then sweeping under the cheekbone and then along the underside of the jawline and under your chin. Make sure to blend well! A bit of highlighting powder also looks lovely when dusted lightly on the apples of the cheeks, forehead and chin, but be sure to use a light hand.


For your lips, choose pink or red matte shades. Avoid frosted formulas, oranges and corals as they do not translate well onstage. Also apply clear or pink lip gloss over your lipstick for a nice finish. Before you go onstage, make sure to blot the inner part of your lips with tissue to ensure that no lipstick ends up on your teeth.


If you are nervous about how your makeup might look on the day of the show, practice your techniques until you feel comfortable. Also, make sure to give yourself enough time to apply your makeup on the day of the competition without feeling rushed. It is far better to start very early and have extra time to relax AFTER your makeup is applied than to be rushed and perhaps unable to complete your makeup application before stepping onstage.

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