Every actor involved with theater needs some kind of stage makeup kit, especially those still in school. Over the years I have developed a staple stage makeup kit that I will use during every production. There are definitely items that you will need for every shot, whether it’s for your own makeup or that kid that never brings their own.
My kit is a mix of stage and street makeup. A lot of directors will tell you to only use stage makeup, but there’s really no point if you’re broke, in school, or not a professional actor. It’s important to have a few items of real stage makeup, but for the most part, simple street makeup is fine.
So, my stage makeup kit essentials are as follows:
Ben Nye Creme Foundation- This is one of the things you need to get as professional stage makeup, nothing else will work as well. It’s best to use a shade a bit darker than your natural color for a more natural finish under stage lights. I use the color Ultra Beige.
Ben Nye Transluscent Powder- A super thick powder that keeps your face nice and matte under the stage lights and keeps your makeup in place even if you sweat. Be careful not to get this on your clothes- especially your costume! It does have a really pale finish, but it balances out a darker foundation.
Concealer- Use your normal concealer under your foundation. Your skin will thank you so much if you use the same concealer directly on your skin as stage foundation can really do horrible things to your skin.
Bronzer- Give your face some shape! You’ll look a bit dead and one dimensional on stage, but just a drugstore bronzer can really help.
Pink Blush- Good for a girlie, sweet character. A younger, more stereotypical feminine look. Using a cheap drugstore blush can actually be better, really. Having a thick, really pigmented blush that you wouldn’t want to wear on a daily basis is actually perfect for the stage.
Dark Blush- Good for a nice neutral look for an average character, slightly more masculine or evil. Also looks like more of a nude finish when you are wearing a foundation darker than your skin tone.
Mascara- Just use your daily mascara, something black and thick and really makes your lashes stand out.
Clear mascara- Or brow gel, something that can really be used to shape the hairs.
Black liquid liner- Using a drugstore liquid liner works perfectly for theater. Something jet black, super thick, and not going to budge- no matter how much dancing you’re going.
Brown pencil liner- I specify a brown pencil because it is a lot softer and that kind of look suits a very different character than a black pencil.
Black pencil liner- This is just a staple for any makeup kit, theater or not. Something that is easy to layer and lasts really well. If you’re looking for something cheap, use a Wet and Wild pencil liner. For something super long lasting and high quality, go for an Urban Decay one.
Brow pencil- Everyone needs their brows filled in, and using a pencil will give you a very heavy and drawn on look that you need on stage to look normal.
Nude eye shadow palette- For most normal shows your eye look will just need to be neutral. You can never go wrong with a nice palette of browns and pinks. For something cheap, try the Maybeline Nudes palette or the Revlon one. For a high quality, super pigmented one, go for a professional Bobbi Brown one.
Sparkly eye shadow- It’s theater! Everyone needs some glitter in theater! It can be for anything, you never know when someone will need it. But don’t spend too much money on it, if you’re using glitter, it will be gone after one run of shows.
Black eye shadow- This can be used for anything, from black eyes, to dark circles, to dramatic Egyptian styles.
Colorful eye shadow- If you can find a lot of brightly colored eye shadows, you’ll never know when someone will need it. It’s theater, and when else can you use such amazing, bright colors.
Nude lip liner- Just get a cheap, simple, nude lip liner for most characters. It helps keep your lipstick from smudging all over your face while you are working hard.
Nude lipstick- Just use a lipstick from your own collection, this is a nice finish for a neutral look for any character.
Pink lipstick- Be careful to use a pink that is a darker shade, too light and it will make it look like you have no lips under the stage lights.
Red lipstick- Red lips on stage look so amazing. Definitely get a highly pigmented, drugstore lipstick as it will get used up quickly. Try just dabbing a tiny bit of a red lipstick on your lips for a bright pink, or on your cheeks if you’re in a pinch.
Chapstick- Your face will hate you by the second show, keep your lips from cracking my using chapstick before you apply lipstick.
Fake tears- Useful not only when you need to cry, but also for making your eyes super bright. These are great for the days you take all the still shots of the show for publicity. You can find these at the drugstore, look for something like ‘Thera Tears’.
Blood capsules- The kind that you bite down on to get the blood to burst in your mouth. Such an amazing look, but it tastes absolutely disgusting. You can either make these, order professional ones, or get them from costume/party stores.
Fake blood- Great for making wounds, bloody noses, and cracked lips. Again, you can make it, order the good stuff from Ben Nye, or buy it at a costume/party store.
Gum- Keep your breath fresh and your teeth clean after a long day!
Ben Nye Creme Contour Palette- This thing is a lifesaver. If you buy one thing for a makeup kit, go for this. It comes with four colors which are meant for blush, lipstick, highlight, and contour or eye shadow. However, they can be used to make an entire makeup look. I’ve done everything with this from natural, to old makeup.
Powder brush- Use for blush or setting powder, you definitely need something to keep your hands makeup free to it doesn’t get on your costume.
Lip brush- Bright lipstick can be hard to apply, but any mistakes can be seen by the audience.
Makeup sponges- You’ll go through a thousand of these in your theater career. Stage foundation can be messy and gross, so a sponge is definitely going to be your best friend.
Hair ties- Yours will snap ten minutes before you need to go on stage, trust me, it’s going to happen, and you’re going to be stuck scouring the floor for another one. Just bring your own, it saves a lot of trouble.
Bobby pins- Everyone will steal them, make sure you have enough to go around.
There you go, that’s an overview of my essential stage makeup kit. I hope this helps if you’re looking to make your own, or gave you some ideas for things to add to yours.