basic stage makeup face

Basic Stage Makeup

Knowing the basics is invaluable, and knowing how to do a basic face is the start of your stage makeup journey. It is the foundation of all future skills. The basic face is the most versatile look as it is timeless, can work for a variety of characters, and with a few adjustments can be made more specific as needed.

Full Face Tutorial

Do I need special products/tools for basic stage makeup?

The fast answer is no. That said, there are some things that I feel make doing stage makeup easier. I’m a strong believer in cremes for ease of blending on the face, whether it’s highlight, contour, foundation, or cheeks. Interestingly, I do not think there is an advantage to creme eyeshadows. In fact, I think powder eyeshadows are better because they are matte, less likely to run/crease/get sticky, and blend just fine.


a trio of creme foundations
Three Ben Nye creme foundations.

I’m a big fan of the creme foundations for stage because they are very full coverage, and are designed to be used on stage. I find the easiest way to apply this foundation is to use sponge wedges. These wedges can be found at Walmart or really almost any store/drugstore, and are pretty affordable. Because everything you do builds on the foundation you use, this is pretty much the only item I strongly encourage people to buy stage-specific, rather than drugstore. The only thing to be aware of is that you need to set creme foundation with powder. I generally set it after I add any highlights/contours and then again after the full face is done.


creme and powder blushes
Ben Nye creme and drug store powder blushes

You really don’t NEED a creme blush. As I said in the video, I personally prefer the creme blushes because I find it blends better with the creme foundation. Powder blush will do just as well, and as long as it is a relatively natural-looking color, you’ll probably be fine. Just keep in mind that it will probably take more powder blush to build to the necessary levels for stage.



brown and black eyebrow pencils
Ben Nye, Mehron, and drug store eyebrow pencils

You don’t need fancy brow gels or brushes or pencils. Using a basic eyeliner pencil is just fine. You are looking to fill in your eyebrows so that they are seen from a distance, not get glam. I strongly recommend sticking to brown (for really blonde), dark brown (most everyone), or black (for people with really dark hair). You can also use eyeshadow to fill in, but it takes a bit more skill and product. Stick to the same colors as the pencil.


eyeliner pencils and liquid liners
Ben Nye, Mehron, and drug store eyeliners including pencils, marker, and liquid liners

Eyeliner can be really intimidating, just with sheer volume of choices. The good news is that for the basics all you need is a pencil. Dark brown or black is best, but regular brown can work too. Stick to those colors, since this is supposed to be relatively universal. If you are comfortable, of course you can use liquid or gel eyeliners, as long as you stick to the brown/black color group. Just remember – no cats-eyes, no wings, just outline your upper lid along the lash line!


eyeshadow palette and individual eyeshadows
Drugstore eyeshadow palette and Ben Nye individual eyeshadows

The only rule I have for basic stage makeup for eyes is stick to matte browns/creams. This means you can use cremes, liquids or powders…whatever you’re most comfortable with! Just keep the shimmer and sparkle out of it – that can be really distracting under bright stage lights. It is also not time-period-neutral. Matte eyeshadow is the most natural way of enhancing your eyes on the stage.


mascara wand

Probably the easiest of the list – use whatever mascara you like! Dark brown or black for color, the rest is up to you. For basics, I would say stay away from false eyelashes, unless requested by the director.


lipstick and lip liner pencils
Drug store and Ben Nye lip liner pencils, lipstick, and creme pink

In the video I used a combination of lip pencil and creme blush to create a natural-looking lip. You do not need to do this. Find a basic matte/semi-matte lipstick that is a natural color. This does not mean a “nude” color, since that is almost always a skin tone. You’re looking for something not too red or pink or brown. Lip color is probably the most difficult to find if you’re not sure about makeup. For guys, you don’t want anything too dark. It can end up looking kind of awkward otherwise. Often, guys can get away with just some chapstick! Gals have a little bit more freedom because it just needs to be in the natural spectrum. It’s okay if it looks a little darker, unless the show/character is supposed to look completely makeup-free.







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