Time and time again, as a former professional NYC dancer, I witnessed attractive young girls poorly put on tons of makeup before performances. In my 10 years of dancing I saw how, well, ugly, bad backstage makeup skills can get! Makeup can help create the best possible version of ourselves. As a makeup artist I learned how to emphasize our best aspects with makeup.
This is my list of Top 10 Performance Makeup Mistakes in no particular order.
1) MISTAKE: Lack of Eyebrows! WHY? When there are no eyebrows we lose the emotional expression of the face.
FIX IT: In order to create a more natural look then an eyebrow pencil use a pressed mineral eye shadow powder. Use a color that either matches or is slightly darker than your own hair color. To accentuate and frame the eyes use an angled eyeliner makeup brush to fill in the natural shape of the eyebrows.
2) MISTAKE: On the inside of the lower lash line using a black pencil eyeliner. WHY? This is a great makeup method for fashion shows, print ads, TV, and in person but not for performances on stage. During a stage performance it makes eyes look smaller.
FIX IT: A WHITE Highlighter Pencil on the outside corner of the eyes and on the inside lower lash line will make eyes look bigger and brighter.
3) MISTAKE: Applying black liner under the eye and in to the far inner corner of the eye. WHY? It gives the eye a very round appearance, you want more of an almond shape. It can sometimes give the look of being “cross-eyed” to the dancer.
FIX IT: In order to achieve the more desirable shape use a darker brown eye shadow with an eyeliner brush as a liner under the eye. Start under the pupil and brush out following the natural curve of the eye.
Do NOT join the upper lash liner and the lower lash liner. Not connecting these lines will give you the illusion that the whites of the eyes are very large.
4) MISTAKE: The darkest eye shadow contour color that is too close to the nose and too high on the crease of the eye (up to the eyebrows). WHY? It takes all of the emotion out of the eyes. It gives the look of big black holes. For the same reason the “Smokey-eyed look” does NOT work on stage performances.
FIX IT: Make sure the dark contour color stops before it nears the eyebrows. Apply the shadow with an eye shadow brush that is small and angled. When adding darker contour color to crease area of the eye focus on the outer half of the eye and do not bring the dark color too far in towards the nose.
5) MISTAKE: No foundation applied for stage performances. WHY? Wearing makeup without a foundation won’t stand up when you get sweaty. It will look blotchy and not touch-up well.
FIX IT: Creating a clean, matte surface for the makeup requires foundation. When choosing a foundation use a lightweight, mineral oil free/non-comedogenic, water resistant foundation. This will keep makeup looking smooth and clean all day long!
6) MISTAKE: Wearing false lashes that are either too big or too thick. WHY? Since stage lighting come down from the top, large lashes form a shadow under the eyes. This can make your eyes look closed, sleepy, or heavy.
FIX IT: If the lashes are a demi/half lash then they will not need to trimmed to fit the eye otherwise trim them to fit. Always trim from the outside edge. False lashes that are longer on the outer edge and get shorter as they go towards the inner eye are the best choice. Avoid oversized lashes and choose ones that concentrate on the outer third of the eye.
7) MISTAKE: Poor makeup color choices used for stage makeup. WHY? Just because we see a makeup color on TV, does not mean that it will work for a stage performance. On TV when makeup is done, colors can match outfits, be more understated and more “fashionable” in style. Our main purpose on stage is to make sure the facial expression and features can be seen and the dancer looks striking under severe stage lighting.
FIX IT: Wear neutral tones to bring out the innate beauty in the dancer’s face. Also there are neutral rose-toned lipsticks that look lovely. Bright red isn’t better! If bright red glaring lipstick has the audience is distracted from the performance then it is not serving its purpose.
8) MISTAKE: A sharp line for blush or too much blush. WHY? Too much blush or a sharp line can make performers look harsh or old.
FIX IT: Neutral rose toned or pink/peach toned colors. The other benefit is these colors will work on all skin tones – lightest to darkest. To create a soft line place your brush at the hair line and brush forward, blend upward around the apples of the cheeks. It is important to not allow blush to dip below the lip line.
9) MISTAKE: Using too much glitter. WHY? When you use glitter is on every part of your face, body, and costume it is very distracting to the audience and judges.
FIX IT: Pick one part that you will use glitter on. Use glitter in your hair, or use a shimmering white to highlight your cheekbones, or try a red glitter lip. The important part is to pick ONE part of the body not every part for your “glitter-fitti!
10) MISTAKE: Needing more makeup. WHY? Because of the strength of stage lights and the distance from the performer to the audience, the facial features tend to lose their dimension. Facial features “flatten” out when you don’t have enough makeup on.
FIX IT: Apply makeup so that it is dark enough to see your features without strain from the 8th-10th row. Stage lighting is makes it necessary to wear makeup if you a natural look on stage. Again, because you saw the look on a dancer on TV, does not mean it will work on the stage.