Your leotard is out, your pointe shoes are prepared—it’s time for your first ballet concert, show, competition or recital!
We know it’s an exciting time, but it can be a little scary too. Nerves before a big performance are totally natural, but being as prepared as possible before the big day is the best way to ensure things go smoothly and you perform at your best.
One thing to take into consideration is ballet stage makeup. If you need some advice on how to create a classic ballet makeup look, you’re in just the right place!
Why do dancers wear makeup on stage?
The effects of stage lighting can mean facial features are lost during a performance. When you are trying to emote as part of a dance, this can be a major problem. Stage makeup helps solve this problem, allowing the audience or judges to see your beautiful face, and emotions, clearly. Not only that, a perfect face of makeup also helps you feel confident and performance ready. It’s a win-win!
Ballet stage makeup tutorial: a step-by-step guide
Whether it is your first-time doing ballet stage makeup or you want to brush up on your existing skills, our guide tells you everything you need to know to perfect your classical ballet stage makeup.
Sometimes your teacher, coach or production leader will give you a specific makeup look you need to follow. However, if you’re just looking for a general, classic ballet stage makeup look, we have just the tutorial you need.
What do you need for a classical ballet stage makeup
- Base – a pressed or cream foundation or tinted moisturizer, depending on the amount of coverage you need and the longevity you want
- Powder – pressed for setting, loose for blending
- Eyeshadow palette with nude shades, brown, and a highlight/white shade
- White eyeliner pencil (optional)
- Black eyeliner pencil
- Eyebrow pencil
- Black or brown mascara
- Eyelash curler
- False eyelashes (optional)
- Lipstick (pink, nude or red, depending on the requirements for your performance)
- Lip liner in the same shade as your lipstick
- Sponge/beauty blender for application, an eyeshadow brush, blush brush, lipstick brush (optional) and eyebrow brush
Before you start: prepare your skin
The first step to getting perfect ballet stage makeup is preparing your skin. Make sure your skin is cleansed and moisturized; this won’t just help your makeup go on smoothly but will also help protect your skin and stop it from drying out under heavier makeup and stage lighting.
Step 1: Apply your base and concealer
First things first—your base. You can choose to begin with a makeup primer, although many people find moisturizer is enough of a base.
When you’re ready to start applying your ballet stage makeup, go in with your foundation. For ballet stage makeup, we’d usually recommend using a pressed or cream foundation for the stage rather than cream, as it will last longer under the hot lighting. However, if you’re applying makeup on a younger child, you may opt to use a tinted moisturizer or a lighter option instead—younger skin rarely needs much coverage!
If you do need additional coverage, choose a concealer in a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone. Concealer should be applied underneath the eyes, to brighten them, as well as on any blemishes or areas that need brightening.
Step 2: Set with powder, and apply blush
Once you’ve finished your base, you can apply a powder to set it. Translucent powder is best as it won’t add additional color; instead, it simply sets and mattifies your foundation. You can use pressed or loose powder for this. Loose powder tends to be better for blending, while pressed powder is better for setting a base.
Next, go in with your blush. As you’re applying ballet makeup for the stage, you can add a little more blush than you normally would—but don’t be too heavy-handed! You want makeup that will show up under stage lights but will still look natural to the audience.
Step 3: Shape the brows
Brows are great at showing expressions while dancing, so make sure yours are visible. If you have fairer brows, you can fill them in with a brow pencil in a brown or black shade. You should be aiming to highlight the natural arch of the brow, but again, don’t use too much product—small strokes are best to create a natural brow look. Once you’ve filled in the brows with pencil, you can use a brow brush to blend and comb them through to create an even, realistic finish.
If you have naturally thick and defined brows, a slick of clear eyebrow gel can help create a perfect finish ready for the stage.
Step 4: Apply an eyeshadow
The next stage of your classical ballet stage makeup look is the eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and that’s as true as ever when you’re performing! Make sure your eyes are accentuated by first applying a lighter eyeshadow all over the eyelid, as a base. Next, apply a darker brown shade to the crease of the eyelid, and blend well to soften the line. This will help define the eyes, while opening them up and making them appear wider.
Finally, you’ll want to use a lighter, shimmery highlight in the corner of the eyes and on the brow bones to make your eyes really pop. You can use a highlighter or champagne shade of eyeshadow for a more subtle finish, or a white eyeliner for a more dramatic look.
Step 5: Define the eyes
Heavy stage lighting can wash out the face which means your features can appear undefined during your ballet performance—eyeliner is necessary to counteract this. Choose a dark brown or black eyeliner. A long-lasting liquid eyeliner is ideal, as it is less likely to cause smudging or running under the hot lighting, or if you sweat.
Apply the eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible, extending the line just beyond the lashes into a slight flick. You can define the lower lash line with a darker brown eyeshadow, applied with a thin brush.
Step 6: Add mascara or (optional) false lashes
Defined eyelashes open up the eyes and help make facial expressions clear, which is ideal for ballet. Before applying mascara, always use an eyelash curler. We’d then recommend applying a couple of coats of waterproof mascara to reduce the chance of smudging.
Starting around the age of ten, dance companies may request false eyelashes on dancers. If you’re applying false lashes, always remember to trim them down to fit the eyes so that you achieve a natural finish. Once they’re applied, you can use a coat of mascara to blend the false and natural lashes.
If you’re adding false lashes as part of your ballet stage makeup look, you may want to go back and touch up your eyeliner once they’re applied, as this will help hide the false lash band.
Step 7: Finish with lipstick
And finally, the finishing touch to your classical ballerina makeup look—lipstick! You should check what color lipstick is required for your performance, although red is often the most common option.
Before applying lipstick, outline and color in the lips with a lip liner. This helps define the lips while also creating a solid base, helping the lipstick stay put for longer. When applying your lip product, you can apply to your lips directly from the lipstick. If you’re looking for a more precise finish, you can apply it with a lip brush.
Step 8: Hit the stage!
And voila! There you have a stunning, classical ballet makeup look that will ensure you look (and feel!) your best on stage. All that’s left to do is get out there and nail your performance.
Looking for some more advice? To ensure your hair looks perfect, explore our guide on How to Do a Ballet Bun, or for more general tips to get performance-ready, check out our post on 3 Ways to Prepare Yourself for Performance Day.