Costume Makeup: Create Drama and Intrigue

Costume MakeupIf you’ve ever used costume makeup for any purpose, you know there are definite right and wrong ways to use it. While the actual application is somewhat dependent on the occasion or production, some very basic tips apply in almost all situations. Read on for more about the use of costume makeup, some considerations when using it, and pitfalls to avoid of when applying the makeup for a stage production or other theatrical purposes. If transformative makeup is what you’re striving for, you should check out this Udemy course, Transformed by Beauty.

What Are The Most Common Uses?

Casually referred to as stage makeup, costume makeup is utilized in situations where everyday makeup will not do the trick. In theatrical productions, the audience is set back from characters and, therefore, the need to use a more heavily applied and bold makeup can really serve to enhance a performance by non-verbally communicating the facial expressions of the characters. Many professionals argue that appropriate stage makeup is just as important as appropriate costumes, lighting and a great set.

Preparing To Use Costume Makeup

As with other tools, there are certain steps to follow to ensure it is correctly applied and remains in place throughout the performance. When using stage makeup, it’s important to be sure the skin has been properly cleaned and dried prior to beginning the application process. Many professionals recommend following cleaning by applying a light, non-greasy moisturizer to the skin and allowing it time to absorb and dry.

Before applying stage makeup, it’s also important to be sure you have all of the right application tools prior to starting the process. This includes, but is not limited to, sponges, wedges, cotton balls, Q-tips, tweezers, brushes, and any other specialty applicators required by the makeup.

It should also be noted that the type of stage makeup you use plays a large role in the ultimate appearance of the actors. If you purchase a costume makeup set from a big box retailer, it is not reasonable to expect professional results. If you are seeking to get a realistic, professional appearance from the application of the stage makeup, find a costume shop that carries a higher grade of costume makeup. The difference between using true costume grade makeup versus low grade stage makeup or standard cosmetics available in stores truly is night and day.

Tips and Tricks for Applying Costume Makeup

Begin by first applying foundation. For theatrical purposes, a cake foundation is used to create a uniform appearance to all skin as the base layer. For the best results, apply cake foundation with a makeup sponge or a wedge. Many professionals advise that you start by applying cake foundation in the center of the space to be covered and work your way out to get the most even appearance.

Once the foundation is even and smooth up close and from a distance, it is time to begin contouring. Contouring is the process by which the makeup artist shapes the general end appearance of the character by enhancing certain features and downplaying others. Contouring is most frequently used to brighten the appearance around the eyes, but expert contouring can be used to alter the appearance of someone to the point of changing the age, gender, creating injuries and even making people look like animals. Contouring is truly an art that can be learned over time with good instruction and much practice.

Next, focus on finishing the appearance of the face by completing the eyes, cheeks and lips. Depending on the venue, heavy lipstick and blush may be necessary for certain characters and light for others but rarely are these products skipped altogether. In large venues, many characters may need false eyelashes applied, as well.

After contouring, apply the false lashes following manufacturer instructions, making sure to place them as close to the natural eyelashes as is possible. Allow the false lashes to dry thoroughly, at least five minutes. Follow immediately by lining the lash line with a thin coat of liquid eyeliner and a coat or two of mascara to help the false lashes blend with the natural lashes.

Always use a lip liner when applying stage makeup and choose a liner that is slightly darker than the lipstick. Next, apply one coat of lipstick, and let it dry, and then add a second coat for a bold, uniform appearance.

Finish the look by lightly brushing a coat of translucent powder over the entire area. Some theater professionals swear by baby powder as a finishing powder and apply it by loosely and lightly brushing a coat on over the stage makeup. Powder is a necessary step as it can absorb sweat and moisture on an actor’s face that is inevitable when performing under the hot stage lights. Avoid spraying the face with hairspray as it often clogs pores and causes skin reactions.

Are There Any Other Considerations with Costume Makeup?

After applying stage makeup to an actor, be sure to throw away all used disposable applicators to prevent the spread of germs. Reusable applicators such as brushes should be cleaned periodically according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, makeup brushes can be washed in a mild soapy solution, and air dried.

Individuals wearing costume makeup should take care to properly remove the makeup from their skin as soon as is possible after the performance. This is sometimes done with facial cleanser and water, but more, frequently, cold cream is the best product to remove costume makeup. Actors should thoroughly cleanse and moisturize their skin after wearing costume makeup to keep skin and pores healthy and clear of obstruction.

Costume makeup is an amazing tool that if used right, can make characters come to life and make a production feel magical. With time, training and patience, learning the art of properly applying stage makeup can help transition your production from great to amazing. For more tips and tricks, check out these Udemy courses, Fundamental Beauty & Contouring Technique and Makeup, Hair and Beauty, Genius by Marie Claire. You should also check out this blog, Makeup for Beginners: Tips and Tricks.