Getting Started: Theatrical Makeup

Thursday, 20 January 2011, 15:51 | Author : Kricket
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One thing you have to remember is that theatrical makeup was designed to be seen from a distance and under bright lights. As such, these products tend to be much thicker and brighter than cosmetic makeup and will require different techniques for applying.  Should you have the opportunity to attend a Theatrical Makeup class at your local college, the instructor will encourage you to apply your makeup in an overly dramatic and exaggerated fashion. However, if you intend to use this makeup when cosplaying at conventions, you have to remember that everyone who sees your makeup will be up-close and in good lighting; I encourage you to use subtlety when you are in such an intimate environment.

Rather than including all of the available products on the market, I have chosen to list only the most useful products that I have encountered to date.  If you would like to receive a broad overview on the products and principles of theatrical makeup, I would recommend reading Laura Thudium’s  Stage Makeup.


Ben Nye manufactures an extensive line of skin-colored Creme Foundation; although, I only keep about five shades in my collection (Pale Vampire, Ultra Fair, Creamy Peach, Warm Sand, Old Age).  I would also recommend purchasing Ben Nye Creme Highlight (Ultralite) and Ben Nye Creme Shadow (Character Shadow), which will allow you to define the contours to your face by creating shadows and highlights.  Once you have purchased skin-colored creme makeup, you can find any additional colors you might need within Ben Nye’s Creme Color Liner collection.


Depending on the amount of area you need to cover, each of the following is an appropriate method for applying creme makeup: latex sponges, nylon brushes, cotton swabs, and stipple sponge.


In it’s original state, Ben Nye Cake Foundation is very stiff and chalky.  To apply to your skin, you need a water-dipped Foundation Brush or sponge.  This product is not necessarily superior or inferior to creme makeup, but is preferred by people with oily skin.


Face powers will help set your makeup and reduce sweating.  I recommend Ben Nye’s Neutral Set which is translucent; however, there are also a variety of opaque skin-tone powders available.  This can be applied with a powder puff or powder brush.


Final Seal is the final step when you are applying makeup.  This spritzer is cold and minty, but creates a protective layer to hold your makeup in place.


Neutrogena Cleansing Towellettes are a quick way to remove theatrical makeup.  You may still have to scrub with soap and water afterwards, but they do a lot of the grunt work for you.  Also, Ben Nye provides a makeup remover/brush cleanser, Hydra Cleanse, which will provide a more thorough cleanse.

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Disclaimer: My personal collection has been tailored to compliment fair skin and my color recommendations are posted as a starting place for beginners.

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