How to put stage makeup on boys

Written by alex smith
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How to put stage makeup on boys
Applying stage make-up before a production makes the actor's features pop. (boy in a blanket 5 image by Paul Moore from

Stage productions have to compensate for intense lighting and extreme audience distance. Both of these flatten and steal definition from the face. This problem is solved through the use of make-up. By over-exaggerating a person's features, he looks normal to an audience member. Applying stage make-up to a boy is very easy, though it does require a bit of practice to make it look natural.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Foundation
  • Shadow colour
  • Highlight colour
  • Loose powder
  • Powder puff
  • Dark brown eyeliner pencil
  • Blush
  • Brushes and sponges

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  1. 1

    Begin by applying a foundation that is a shade or two darker than the boy's skin tone. You will use a darker shade because the lights will brighten it up. Apply it with a brush or sponge, fading it into his hairline and down his neck. Don't cover his entire neck or the make-up will get on his costume.

  2. 2

    Contour his face lightly with a shadow colour. The shadow should be no more than three shades darker than the foundation. Do not use black unless he has very dark skin. The three main areas are under his cheekbones, under his jawline from ear to ear, and in the crease of his eyes leading down the sides of his nose. Blend the shadows smoothly into his skin. Be careful not to apply the contouring too heavily or it will look like the boy has lines on his face. Remember that you're simulating light-cast shadows.

  3. 3

    Add a highlight colour if needed to his cheekbones, chin and down the centre of his nose. The highlight should be a few shades lighter than the foundation, but not white. The highlight won't be seen on its own from the audience, but it helps to support the shapes you have created with the shadow.

  4. 4

    Powder his face with loose, colour-free powder and a powder puff. Cream theatrical make-up needs to have powder pressed into them to set. A light dusting with a powder brush won't be enough.

  5. 5

    Darken his eyebrows if needed with the eyebrow pencil. Use short strokes in the same direction the hairs are growing for a realistic effect.

  6. 6

    Add subtle eyeliner for larger theatres. Don't draw a solid line, rather use a series of dots to reinforce the edges of his eyes without making them look made up.

  7. 7

    Add a subtle blush to put some colour back into his face as the foundation often makes the face appear a bit pale.

Tips and warnings

  • Theatrical cream make-up us available from companies such as Ben Nye and Mehron.
  • If possible, view the make-up from the audience under the show's lighting conditions before the audience arrives so that you know if you need to tweak anything.

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