Your Bag is Empty

Make It Up Monday - Theatrical Makeup for Stage and Creative Social Events Like Halloween


3 min read

Posted by Heather Coopersmith on October 22, 2017

With Halloween just around the corner, let's take a look at the concept of theatrical makeup. What is theatrical makeup, and how is it different from everyday makeup? Why is it necessary, what techniques are involved, and how has theatrical makeup influenced our beauty trends?

The Evolution of Theatrical Makeup

Theater has been around since Ancient Greece. And, ever since, stage or theatrical makeup has been utilized. This has always been an integral part of productions. Makeup for stage is used to convey expression, emotion and character. Think Elizabethan era meets Japanese Kabuki. These types of face paintings involve a heavy application to transport the audience into that world. With the advancement of lighting, makeup products and techniques have had to become more sophisticated. Instead of candles or lamps, theaters now had electric light - so this really changed the game! Makeup had to use highlighting and shadowing accurately to help the effectiveness of the lighting in the show and vice versa. The highlighting was for pronouncing features while shadowing created depth. This concept has transitioned into the modern day contour and highlight (think Kim Kardashian!). Actors on a stage need to be seen from farther away. Because of this factor, their makeup needs to be more dramatic or exaggerated, more in tune with how light effects color, and be clever with highlighting and contouring to the best of their ability - to bring forth emotion, expression and character. Since this is a very specific art, many people take classes in stage makeup which signifies that it's a craft held in high regard.
Theater-makeup-Lydia-Murphy Here's a stunning image that shows how well contouring and highlighting works in modern makeup - adding dimension, and a radiance and glow! Image by Lydia Murphy @mua.lydia
"Master of Makeup" Declan Welsh's intricate creations are simply mesmerizing. View more of Declan's work on Instagram @itsdeclanwelsh

Halloween Makeup

Everyday makeup lends itself sometimes to more of the theatrical. Halloween is a prime occasion where the line between the day-to-day and the theatrical comes together and is celebrated! Makeup is played with, and skeletons, witches and goblins appear. Many have their creative way with it and exaggerate their eye makeup or just opt for the undead look... If this isn't a nod to the good ole days of drama/comedy masks, I don't know what is.

Scary, Sexy, Political, Pretty or Arty?

This time of year is when you can really dust off your creative licence and go wild with your makeup collection and ideas! It's an opportunity to morph into character, whether it be a terrifying demon, vampire or skull face or something prettier and more sultry, like a mermaid, fairy or Wonder Woman. Pop Art is also really in this year! There is so much awesome Halloween makeup inspo all over the web, it's hard to choose who or what you want to be... The beauty in this occasion is that we all get to become theater superstars at Halloween!

Drag Queen Makeup

Drag Queens have elaborate makeup, and keeping with the theatrical elements is KEY when doing this type of makeup. Many are performers and go over the top with their characters so the audience can really be mesmerized by their onstage fierceness. It is no small feat to do drag makeup. Again, highlighting and contouring is of the utmost importance in order to transform the face.

Beauty Pageant Makeup

Beauty contestants are on stage all the time under harsh lighting, so these lovelies always have to be aware of that. Makeup for pageants is a bit like beauty on steroids.It really exists in that in between state of everyday to theatrical - without being too theatrical. The ideal of highlight/contour is extremely important when you want to look your best!

Bringing the Character to Life

All in all, theatrical makeup has paved the way for many modern genres of makeup. It's a fascinating realm. It's more of a science - in that you really have to be up on your lighting and color theory game to portray a character best. It's also very satisfying when you can achieve a makeup application that someone in the back row of a theater can appreciate in a production. It's not all about being pretty either, sometimes it's about looking horrific and that's the beauty of it all. Theatrical makeup can give life or death to any actor on a stage. I just wish I could cart around the Glamcor MONO Light Kit so I can always be prepared for my close up moment... Lol!! Do you love theatrical makeup as much as I do? Who or what are you going to be this Halloween? Let me know what inspires you! :)

Heather Coopersmith

Heather Coopersmith

With almost two decades as a professional makeup artist working on film projects, tv shows, photo shoots and weddings, LA based Heather Coopersmith brings some serious skills and knowledge to the Glad Lash Blog with her guest posts. Heather sees her art (and her hair!) as a creative outlet, and says "My world is a visual experience and I want to make you a part of it!" We're super excited to have Heather brightening up our world. You can reach out to Heather on Instagram @makeupthebride

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.