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Top 10 Performance Makeup Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Time and time again, as a former professional dancer from New York City, I witnessed attractive young girls put on poor makeup before performances. In my 10 years of dancing, I’ve seen how ugly and bad backstage makeup skills can be. Makeup can help create the best possible version of ourselves. As a makeup artist I learned to bring out our best aspects with makeup.

This is my list of the top 10 performance makeup mistakes in no particular order.

1) ERROR: Missing Eyebrows! WHY? When there are no eyebrows we lose the emotional expression of the face.

SET IT: To create a more natural look than a brow pencil, use a pressed mineral eyeshadow powder. Use a color that matches or is slightly darker than your hair color. To accentuate and frame the eyes, use an angled eyeliner makeup brush to fill in the natural shape of the brows.

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, television, and in person, but not for stage performances. During a performance on stage, it makes the eyes look smaller.

FIX: A WHITE Highlighter Pencil in the outer corner of the eyes and on the inner lower lash line will make the eyes appear larger and brighter.

3) MISTAKE: Apply black eyeliner under the eye and on 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 dancer the appearance of being “cross-eyed”.

SET IT: To achieve the most desirable shape, use a darker brown eyeshadow with an eyeliner brush as an undereye liner. Start below the pupil and apply following the natural curve of the eye.
DO NOT conjoin the top lash liner and bottom lash liner together. Not connecting these lines will give you the illusion that the whites of the eyes are very large.

4) MISTAKE: The darkest eyeshadow contour color that is too close to the nose and too high in the crease of the eye (up to the eyebrows). WHY? It takes all the emotion out of the eyes. It gives the appearance of large black holes. For the same reason, the “smoky eye look” does NOT work in stage performances.

FIX: Make sure the dark outline color stops before it gets close to the brows. Apply the shadow with a small, angled eyeshadow brush. When adding a darker contour color to the crease area of ​​the eye, focus on the outer half of the eye and don’t bring the dark color too far up the nose.

5) ERROR: No basis applies for theatrical performances. WHY? Wearing makeup without a foundation won’t lift when you’re sweating. It will look smudged and won’t touch up well.

SET IT: Creating a clean, matte surface for makeup requires a primer. When choosing a foundation, use a lightweight, mineral oil-free/non-comedogenic, waterproof foundation. This will keep your makeup smooth and clean throughout the day!

6) MISTAKE: Using false eyelashes that are too big or too thick. WHY? Since the stage lighting descends from the top, the large eyelashes cast a shadow under the eyes. This can make your eyes look closed, sleepy, or heavy.

SOLUTION: If the lashes are half or half lashes, it will not be necessary to trim them to fit the eye; if not, cut them to fit. Always trim from the outside edge. False eyelashes that are longest at the outer edge and shorten as they go in towards the eye are the best option. Avoid overly large lashes and choose ones that are concentrated on the outer third of the eye.

7) BUG: Wrong makeup color choices used for stage makeup. WHY? Just because we see a makeup color on TV doesn’t mean it will work for a stage performance. On TV, when the makeup is done, the colors can match outfits, be more understated, and have a more “fashionable” look. Our main goal on stage is to make sure that facial expression and features can be seen and that the dancer looks stunning under the harsh lighting of the stage.

FIX IT: Use neutral tones to highlight the innate beauty of the dancer’s face. There are also lipsticks in neutral pink shades that look gorgeous. Bright red is not better! If the bright red lipstick distracts the audience from the performance, then it’s not serving its purpose.

8) MISTAKE: A line marked by blush or too much blush. WHY? Too much blush or a strong line can make artists look tough or old.

FIX IT: Colors in neutral shades of pink or pink/peach. The other benefit is that these colors will work on all skin tones, from the lightest to the darkest. To create a soft line, place your brush at the hairline and brush forward, blending upwards around the apples of the cheeks. It is important not to allow the blush to sink below the lip line.

9) MISTAKE: Using too much glitter. WHY? When she uses glitter on every part of her face, body, and costume, it is very distracting for the audience and the judges.

FIX: Choose a part where you will use glitter. Wear glitter in your hair, or use shimmery white to highlight your cheekbones, or try a bright red lip. The important part is choosing ONE body part, not all parts for your glitter-fitti.

10) MISTAKE: Need more makeup. WHY? Due to the strength of the stage lights and the distance between the performer and the audience, facial features tend to lose their dimension. Facial features “flatten” when you don’t have enough makeup.

SET IT: Apply makeup so it’s dark enough to see your features without strain from the 8th to 10th row. Stage lighting makes it necessary to wear makeup if you look natural on stage. Again, just because you saw a dancer’s look on TV doesn’t mean it will work on stage.

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