FAN MAIL FRIDAYS: How To Do Stage Makeup

Welcome to Fan Mail Fridays! I’ve promised in my last two FMF posts that I’ll do videos for tutorial requests but something’s wrong with my iMovie lately and I gotta have it fixed. For this segment, I’ll do a photo tutorial instead.

This tutorial is pretty long but I promise you, it’s packed! :D

Our tutorial request for today is from Jaslene. She asks:

Hello Ms. Martha! 

I know you've mentioned some time ago that you are a stage actress. Read again in a recent blog post that you performed with Dulaang UP so I'm asking this: How is theater makeup properly done (aside from contouring since you've tackled that already)? Do we really have to go overboard because the lights wash out the face/melt the makeup? Can you recommend brands that are made specifically to stand the arduous requirements of the stage? Excited to read your response! Hopefully I can apply it as I will be assisting my org in an annual intracollegiate theater competition this December (as an alumna this time). Thank you!


A photo from one of my theatre plays in Dulanng UP with one of my best friends in college

Hello Jaslene!

Great question! I’ve been missing performing on stage a lot lately, and I guess I have attracted this question! Just wanna share: As I’m doing the makeup for this post, I got a bit nostalgic that I acted out a short monologue in front of the mirror after accomplishing the photos for this tutorial—no kidding! I sooo wanna go back on stage but alas, now is not the perfect time because I feel that I still have to travel this path I’m currently in.


Stage lighting can be cruel—as in it will literally wash you out and make you appear pale and lifeless on stage. You could be a great actor but if you’re not sporting the right makeup to bring forward your expressions, then the audience will barely notice your acting efforts at all.

In stage makeup, less is less and more is more. But it also depends on the type of theatre you’re in. If you’re performing in a:

Photo Credits:

Blackbox (a small and intimate open space theatre)- amp up your everyday makeup for just a bit because in this type of theatre, you will literally be in front of your audience and you don’t want to divert their attention from the play to your makeup.

Proscenium (the traditional frame- type theatre where the audience is positioned farther from the actors. The size of a Proscenium stage could be small or huge)- wear thicker makeup—as in three times thicker than your everyday makeup.

Arena (an open space where the actors are performing at the center while the audience is surrounding them) and Thrust (typically used in fashion shows) stages, wear the same makeup I recommended in Blackbox.

The look you’re going to sport depends on the nature of your play. Is it a fantasy play? A drama? An experimental play? A historical play? Know the genre of your play and create the right look for it.

I presume that you will do a real life play: It could be a comedy, drama, tragicomedy, tragedy, or domestic drama. Real life plays feature people from real life so that means you have to recreate ‘real life looks’ onstage—You have to make the actors’ faces stand out naturally, as if their features are just magnified. Don’t try to make them look fancy!

Click READ MORE and start becoming your own makeup artist for the theatre!
Going back to the topic aforementioned on the above paragraph, here’s a more visual approach:

The photo on the left is me in real life. The photo on the right is me in real life, but stage version. (I hope I’m not losing you here!) The photo on the right seems too made up but on stage, it looks very natural-trust me.

When doing stage makeup, focus on the Inverted Triangle area of the face: Eyes, nose, and mouth. Why? Because this part is where all the expression and talking happens so make sure you highlight it, especially the eyes and mouth.


I have been taught that yellow or warm lights must be used when doing stage makeup because their wattage is as strong as the lamps used in stage lighting. In this tutorial, I have done my makeup under warm, ambient lighting.


For the eyes, the thicker, the better. Blending is not really an option when it comes to doing stage makeup, but always make sure that the finished look is clean.


In real life, people don’t naturally have blue, green, red, or purple eye shadows, so to speak. Use neutral colors on the eyes to emphasize it as neutral colors just blend naturally with the eyes on stage. Go for eye shadows with a matte finish because they last longer, and are not reflective as opposed to frost or shimmery eye shadows. I’m just using frosted eye shadows here because I have misplaced my matte eyeshadows. :p

Make your eyes appear bigger and stage- worthy by extending your creases and lower lid just like the photo above.


The brows are the frames of the eyes. Let them frame your eyes well by intensifying their color, and emphasizing their shape. Well- defined and sharp brows help draw more attention to the eyes. However, if you’re playing a geriatric role, that’s the time when you can sport thin and dull brows.


This is one of the most important makeup techniques in the theatre because it brightens up eyes and makes it appear bigger. Using a white or cream- colored eyeliner on the waterlines brings forward the eyes, thereby helping an actor express his/her emotions clearly even with minimal effort.


Seal your eye makeup look with black eyeliner to make your eyes appear wider and bigger.

 Don't forget to line your upper lash line too!


An important makeup tool in the theatre. Sometimes, plain eyeliner and mascara can be washed out most especially if the lights transition into paler colors such as blue and green, and a pair of falsies will prevent your eyes from disappearing. If the theatre is huge, use dramatic falsies. If it is small, wear a pair with medium thickness.


One of my techniques when doing stage makeup. I found this technique very helpful because the highlighter makes my eyes pop on stage. For my highlighter of choice, I go for powder foundation that’s a shade lighter than my skin tone. I don’t use glimmery highlighters because they are quite reflective.

Here are few more pictures to cap off our theatre look for today:


Contour the jawline, hollow on the cheeks, and temples going to the side of the forehead. This is important because it frames the inverted triangle area more.

Apply highlighter on the center of the forehead. This will give your face shape more definition on stage.

Lastly, apply a touch of blush on the cheeks to break the brown-ness of the look.

Right on the center of the cheek and jawline contour, apply highlighter to give your face a slimmer look. It will also support the contours in lifting your face and emphasizing the inverted triangle area.

Don't forget to contour your nose because it will help lift your facial features as well. Look for the edge of your nose bridge and apply a matte midtone brown shade on it, then apply highlighting powder on the center of your nose.


Use a red-rose lip color because on stage, it will just mimic the natural tone of your lips. You may also opt to wear red lipstick. When choosing lip colors for stage makeup, choose something that will emphasize the lips naturally. NEVER wear cool- toned colors because they will be washed out on stage.


Your makeup should show up whether under normal or harsh lighting.

 Normal Stage Lighting

Harsh Stage Lighting

If you find that your makeup is obvious in both lighting conditions, then congratulations, you did your stage makeup correctly.

Wanna know how stage makeup looks like under natural lighting?

Here it is. It’s pretty thick! The point of a play is to exaggerate real life or imaginary events, so might as well do the same thing with your makeup!

Here are some of the tried and tested makeup brands for the stage. These are all actor approved!

Base- Kryolan Supracolor Foundation; Kryolan Ultrafoundation; Ben Nye Cream Foundation; Makeup For Ever Mat Velvet; Cinema Secrets Concealer Palette and Cream Foundation; RCMA; Kryolan Dermacolor

Eyeshadows: Make Up For Ever; MAC; NYX

Eyeliners: Revlon Colorstay Automatic Pen Eyeliner

Primers: Kryolan Eyeshadow Base; Kryolan Invisible Matt

Powders: Kryolan Setting Powder; Ben Nye Translucent Powder

Fixers: Cinema Secrets Eyeliner Sealant; Kryolan Fixer Spray

Lipsticks: MAC; NYX; Make Up For Ever

I hope this entry has helped you, Jaslene. Break a leg! And I hope you all have learned something new today through this post! Have a great weekend!

**Got a burning question about makeups, skin care products, beauty, dieting, and health tips, relationships, and whatever? Just send them to or shoot 'em up at The Beauty Junkee's FB Fan Page via the MESSAGE button and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. (Please, do not send me Math- related queries. :D)

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9 Lovely Thoughts

  1. Ms. Martha, Arturo Ui makeup tutorial please.

  2. Snide Remarks: Hi and welcome to TBJ! Oh wow! Glad to know you saw the play! (did you? hehe) Sure, will keep that in mind. :)

  3. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question Ms. Martha! The step-by-step guides are easy to follow and you clearly illustrated the look that should be achieved. I really learned a lot! The techniques make sense and I realized mistakes that we've done before (e.g., using frosted eye shadows instead of matte, neglecting the brows, and not contouring, etc.). Will try my best to apply this in the play. Thanks again! :)

  4. wow this is very informative :) ganun pala kakapal ang makeup pero mukha pareng normal kasi dahil sa ilaw at malayo naman! :)
    kacurious lang yung top mo did you bought it na may design or did you diy? :)

  5. I love it! super talented ka pala, Ms. Martha :))

  6. This tutorial is very informative Martha. Kudos!
    Jaja of Beauty Colada
    ♥Join my Christmas Giveaway HERE

  7. Hi Ms. Martha! The lip color is really pretty. Ano pong gamit mong product jan? Please do tell :)

  8. i never thought na ganun pala ka kapal ang makeup ng mga stage performers. great job Ms.Martha for this post.may new learning's nanaman ako :)


Thank you for your comments!