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How Stage Makeup Works

Stage Makeup Tools
Applying makeup becomes easy with a large mirror, bright lighting and a little practice.
Applying makeup becomes easy with a large mirror, bright lighting and a little practice.

The well-equipped actor will have a variety of tools inside a makeup kit. To apply a foundation smoothly, actors use makeup sponges. You can find sponges made of latex or latex-free materials. The triangular sponge is popular among actors because the shape of the sponge makes it easier to apply makeup around features like the ears and nose.

A good makeup kit will also contain a variety of brushes. Use a soft, long-haired brush to apply rouge or other powder-based colors on top of your foundation. Use shorter-hair brushes to apply shadows and highlights if you wish to accentuate the lines of your face -- an essential part of creating an older appearance.

A powder puff is also a necessary tool. As you might expect given the name, you use a powder puff to apply setting powder on top of your makeup. Setting your makeup prevents it from streaking or smudging as you perform. Since actors can become warm under the hot lights of the stage or while moving around under bulky costumes, sweating is almost impossible to avoid. Setting your makeup with powder will help prevent you from sweating it off in the middle of the show.

If you plan to create special effects with your makeup, you'll want to purchase a stipple sponge. The basic stipple sponge doesn't look like a sponge at all. It looks more like a block made out of wire mesh. Actors use stipple sponges to create special textures with makeup. With the right application technique, you can use a stipple sponge to create effects like bloody scratches or severe burns.

Makeup kits should also include tools designed to help remove makeup. Washcloths, cotton balls, baby wipes and a towel are good items to have on hand. If you're using putty to alter the shape of your nose, you may also want to have some dental floss on hand. You can use the floss to peel away the putty.