Stage makeup vs. everyday makeup

Photos courtesy of Abigail Huhtala, Douglas Henderson and Shelby DeSoto

Ruby red lips stand out from a distance and add color and depth to the face. I remember being told that when I danced in recitals and while I was on my school’s dance team. That might be in the past, but that tip is prominent in theater.

As a volunteer and performer with Stage Crafters Community Theatre in Fort Walton Beach, I’ve quickly learned there are some similarities from my dancing days and the big stage. But, stage makeup is a whole different world when compared to your everyday makeup.

Whether you glam it up, or go for the au naturale look, everyday makeup involves a few steps: primer, foundation, eye shadow, blush, mascara and maybe a few extras to complete a go-to look.

Stage makeup is detailed and requires much thought about the type of character you’re playing. For example, Stage Crafters wrapped up its 45th season with “Addams Family the Musical.” If you know anything about the Addams, it’s that they’re creepy and cooky. The makeup has to reflect that. For example, Morticia needed white makeup base, white setting powder, dark shadows for the eyes to emphasize drama as well as gray and blue powders for contouring, to add high definition in her cheekbones.

While the makeup does depend on the role, defining one’s features so they stand out on stage under those bright stage lights is vital. If you can’t see the actors’ faces, you can’t see their expressions or, more importantly, it’s difficult to see their acting.

Everyday makeup wear is much lighter, even if you’re one who loves to “cake” it on for a bold look. There is the added freedom to do whatever look you like and enhance your facial features. I have green eyes, so I like to use purple and rose-toned eye shadows that make my eye color pop. Add some glitter, apply metallic eyeliner — the options are endless. But, anything that glitters or shimmers should be avoided on stage.

When our theater performed “9 to 5: The Musical,” I had to learn some important tips such as how to properly contour my cheekbone structure, add white dots near my tear ducts to open the eyes more and create boldly defined brows, just to name a few. I even had to use a darker foundation than I normally wear to give my skin more color. Basically, if you look normal from close up, it’s not enough makeup. As I stated earlier, the audience needs to see your face.

I still enjoy putting on all the layers to become someone else, but it always feels nice to take a break from a show and enhance my features instead of exaggerating them.

Shelby is a twenty-something, residing along the Emerald Coast, enjoying the sugar white sands with an umbrella drink in-hand. She takes the time to enjoy film and music, as well as fashion and beauty trends when her wallet isn't empty.