10 Must-Have Products When Building a Stage Makeup Kit for Theater, Dance, and The Performing Arts

Photo diagram explaining the essentials of stage makeup

Whether you’re a parent with your child’s dance recital coming up or a young aspiring actor looking to star on Broadway, building a stage makeup kit can be quite overwhelming! Let’s face it! There’s so many makeup products out there; where do you even begin?? Allow me to simplify it for you and get your basics down for a stage makeup kit that will never fail you!

Where it all Began! The History of Stage Makeup

Photo of stage actors wearing masks

If you’re a history buff, like myself, you may find the whole aspect of stage makeup and how it evolved very interesting!

Did you know: Many moons ago....stage makeup was often referred to as “Grease-Paint” because it was meant for styles like painting your face for war, religious festivals, and celebrating stages of life.

Even further than that... in ancient Greece and China... traditional theater would use a mask to portray their performances. It wasn’t until WAY later in the twentieth century, performers were required to do their own makeup, have their own supplies for a kit, and costumes.

We learn something new everyday!

Top 10 Stage Makeup Kit Must-Haves & Their Uses

When building your own Stage Makeup kit there are a lot of factors you must consider: the lighting you will have, scenes you are in, costumes you are wearing, and most importantly the role you are playing! Here are the Top 10 Must-Have Items you should always keep in your kit when considering these factors:

1. Primer & Foundation

Photo of liquid foundations, powders, and makeup brushes

I grouped Primer and Foundation together because they go hand in hand. One can not work well without the other. You’ll need a great primer for your skin type to keep the foundation from seeping into your pores. It’ll also give a much smoother finish to the overall look; while keeping it in place the whole night! Now, there is some debate between water-based and oil-based foundation. Water-based foundation is easy to remove for quick changes needed; but an oil-based foundation has longer lasting capabilities. Consider the lighting aspect and what you’ll be doing. Sweating... A LOT? Go for the water-based foundation; it will help control the sebum on the skin making you less shiny in key areas where you don’t necessarily need it.

*Lighting Tip: Theater lights introduce cold tones making you look bland and washed out. So be sure to “warm it up”! Use a foundation color a shade or so darker than what is natural for you. Apply it to your face, neck, and ears; leaving no space untouched!

2. Concealers/Color Corrector

Choosing a concealer can be a little confusing and complicated. Allow me to break it down for you:

You’ll need a concealer for under your eyes and any spots that require additional coverage. But, often left unsaid is the undertone or “color corrector” that goes with the concealer. Yellow undertones conceal purple shadows like dark circles under the eye; for darker skin use an orange undertone corrector. Pimples or acne a factor? Use a green undertone or color corrector before concealing to eliminate redness and purple/pink undertones to reduce yellow patches. Having a little item like this in your stage makeup kit can make a massive difference in the application of everything else!

Easy as pie once it’s explained, right?

3. Palettes (Eye Shadows, Lips & Cheeks)

Photo of face powder, eye palette, face palette, and makeup brushes

Here’s where you can have fun exploring colors, being expressive, and staying organized! Not only are palettes fun to look at, they are vital in space saving! Time is usually a factor with any performing art. So, keep your color elements neatly together in the kit. It will look professional and you’ll be able to create faster looks for different characters, scenes, or routines; rather than having loose eye shadow or blush pods and lipsticks rolling around in there, possibly breaking. There are an array of palettes ranging from 6 shades to 30 shades that you dip right into. This will leave room for all the other “nick knacks”!

Many cosmetic companies have options to build your own palettes or buy one already put together. Let your creativity flag fly and choose a variety... you never know what you might need!

4. Eye Liners

A closeup photo of three women wearing eyeliner

Eye liner... simple but serves a MASSIVE purpose. Whether you need black or brown; I suggest both, eyeliner can be used as a dual item in your stage makeup kit. Use it to sculpt the eyes into an almond upward shape or shade it onto the lid as a base for a color. Shaping the eye with lifting effects gives a more appealing affect on the audience who often stare up or down at you.

We usually don’t think about that but, it's very important!

5. Lip Liners

Lip liner... another small “ticket” item that plays an important role. Lining your lips first or coloring all of your lips with a liner first will keep any lip color you add from bleeding onto the skin and lasting longer!

6. Highlighting Creams

A photo diagram showing how to contour and highlight your face

Small stage or large stage, they all require BRIGHT lights. These lights can drown out your skin and make you look shinier than what you already are. Remember, we’re trying to look more matte and control the oils... but if we strategically place a highlighting cream on the tops of our cheek bones and bridge of our noses, we can catch the light just right portraying a beautifully sculpted face.

Fear of looking sweaty? Don’t shy away! Use the lights to your advantage with this item in your kit.

7. Setting Spray & Setting Powders

Two items that also need to be grouped together! You’ll need powder to set the makeup from any “wetness” or oils that may be seeping through. Plus, it needs to “STAY PUT!" Hours of performing can really put makeup to the test for its long wear capacity. Investing in a translucent powder will do wonders for setting the makeup, keeping it from transferring to costumes, and building additional products on top of it. A setting spray will help take the “powdered donut” look away and make everything more skin-esque! You can also use it as a mixing medium for other products if needed. Scrape a little, spray a little, and mix! Viola! You have your own concoction.

*TRASNLUCENT POWDER TIP: Have a tattoo that needs covering before a performance? No, biggie. Grab your concealer, color corrector, and translucent powder out of your stage makeup kit and layer them in a pattern with a finger stippling motion. Cream, cream, powder; cream, cream, powder. Etc.

8. Tools

A closeup photo of makeup brushes laying on a makeup palette

This one is a little more self explanatory... I mean... how else do you plan on applying everything! You’ll need makeup brushes, powder puffs, sponges, and throw away applicators. Now, with that being said, you’ll want to go ahead and add brush cleanser... for sanitary purposes.

Try investing in good brushes. You’ll most likely be using them a lot and having the right brushes can make a huge difference on how the overall look feels.

9. Makeup Remover

In a previous blog post we talked about how to properly remove your makeup and suggested some great items to use at the end of the night if you need a quick fix to correct mistakes or switch your look. You may want to check it out with this link...

Proper Makeup Removing Routine & Beauty Habits to Ensure Healthier & Flawless Looking Skin Without Using “Makeup Removing” Wipes; Are They Good or Bad?

Heat of the moment arises and quick change is needed for your look. You’ll need a reliable remover to “get the job done” without harming your skin. A lot of on/off application can be very irritating to your skin. Don’t worry, we have you covered!

10. Blotting Papers

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll always want to keep blotting papers in your stage makeup kit. Throughout the performance, sweating is inevitable. These papers can be life saving when you have a small break backstage and need a moment to take away the shine while still leaving all your makeup in tact. Then continue your moving and riveting performance!

Blot away my friend, blot away!

Go Forth & Be You-nique!

Photo of a woman wearing makeup and looking into mirror with stage lights

Now that you know about the must-have products for a great “starter” stage makeup kit, step out with reassurance and prepare for your next gig! If your talent is dancing, acting, singing, or even a new makeup artist hired for a backstage job, you will be prepared to take on any role with just these few items.

Of course, expanding the kit with more in-depth products can come later. But... the most important way to expand your kit now will be to utilize your experience. Go forth and learn from each gig about what works best for you, what you need most, and what you could do without.

Your uniqueness will shine brightly on the stage through your stage makeup and your art!

Tell Us What You Think:

Which Must-Have item would you like to learn more about? For everyday use or a specific gig?

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