Friday, July 4, 2014


Impersonating a mermaid at White Sands National Park, New Mexico, using the make up  concepts mentioned below

Stage makeup for dance needs to be powerful, bright and heavy, so the audience can see your features clearly.  But now that summer is here, many of us are performing outdoors, and that’s a whole different animal!

 I’ve gotten many requests lately asking for a guideline to daytime gigs where you will be performing up close or in the sunlight, like at an afternoon party, a fair or a street festival…so here are my tips for looking your best before dark.

 During the day, you’ll need less make up than for a large stage or a dark nightclub, but   you still need to apply more – and different- makeup than you’d wear on the street. This could, of course, mean using more liner or applying powder shadow a little darker and a vivid shade of shade of lipstick… but there’s also more to consider.

Begin your make up application with sunblock.

 You’ll definitely need it, and should be using it every day, anyway. There are many non-greasy formulas on the market today made just for use on the face, so invest in one of them. I like to use sun products formulated for babies, because they are the least irritating, but I also like Neutrogena’s sunblock, too.  And a word to the wise: make sure to cover – at the very least- your arms, neck, chest and torso with sunblock, too, cause sunburn and tan-lines in the pattern of your costume are not attractive!

After your sunblock has dried, you need to apply foundation-even if you don’t wear it in real life- because it will make your complexion appear poreless and perfect.  Since you won’t be on a theatrical stage, you could use a sheer formula or a tinted beauty balm or BB cream, but in either case, you’ll need to powder over it, to set it, cause you’ll be sweating a lot at an outdoor gig! For work onstage, many performers like to use a foundation that is a shade or two darker than their natural skin tone, because it makes their face appear brighter, more robust and healthy under the harsh stage lights.  I would definitely suggest this for an outdoor gig as well, because the sun can wash out your features just as much as stage lighting does!

 Go over the perimeters of your face- forehead, cheekbones, and jawline- with a matte bronzing powder, both to contour and to make your face look healthy and glowing. Iridescent, sparkly or glittery bronzers are best saved for evening.

Color in the apples of your cheeks  (only) with a vivid color: rose or berry tones for fair skin, coral or reds with an orange undertone for olive or darker skinned performers.

As for your eyes, you’ll need them to be really deeply colored and noticeable, but you’ll also want to stay away from flat black or muddy browns that will make you look haggard under direct sunlight.  Nice russet tones and rich, chocolate browns look pretty on everybody. Again, steer away from pearly or irridescent  hues,  go for matte shades. A great option is to line your eyes with navy blue. It looks good on everything and makes the whites of the eyes appear brighter.  Then do your lids in the brown shades, and don’t forget a thin pearly white highlight just under your brows.

For daytime gigs, I stick with powders and gel liners only.  I never use cream blush or eye shadow, and I skip any sort of pencil, because all of these formulas tend to melt, smear and crease in summer sunlight.  I don’t even use eyebrow pencils- too waxy. I fill in my brows with powder, using a small slanted brush.  And as for brows: since I am dark haired, I use black onstage, but for day time gigs I use a much lighter brown, because in direct sunlight, black brows say “Groucho Marx”, not beautiful dancer!

  If you don’t like wearing false eyelashes, then  you must use waterproof mascara…or you’ll wind up looking like Alice Cooper!   Pile on a few coats of it, leaving ample time for each layer to dry. But false eyelashes are way more foolproof for outdoors gigs. I use what I call my “daytime audition lashes”. They’re short but thick, and define the eyes really well, making harsh, heavy liner way less necessary.

As for lips, matte formula lipsticks are much better for day work than shiny ones like slick glosses or softer, more easy-to-melt products. Select a lip color in a bright “natural” shade, like a blue red (makes the teeth appear whiter) a youthful rose pink or a nice peachy-coral tone. Even if you’re dark skinned, stay away from anything too dark, like burgundy, brown or taupe. Apply the lipstick, blot your lips on a tissue, powder over your lips with a translucent powder, re-apply the color and blot again for maximum staying power. If you want to give the illusion of lustrous lip gloss, dip the pad of your finger into the same pearly white eye shadow you used as a brow highlighter, and apply a dot of it to the center of your lower lip, which will mimic the pretty sheen of lip gloss, but will stay in place, and won’t be greasy.

Since you’ll be outside,  fun accessories like big   blingy earrings, glittery bindis and rhinestones around the eyes all look completely fabulous sparkling in the sun.  But it's not like I have to tell any of you readers to wear more bling, right?

One last  thought-  Remember to keep  your costumes  for daytime and  outdoor gigs family friendly.

Remember to bring  some dancing shoes… because pavement, stages , sand and even  the grass and especially Astro Turf  get very hot when  direct sun has been shining on them for hours, and you could literally get burned.  Shoes are mandatory.

 Have fun  Day Dancing in the great outdoors!


  For more tips on make up, costuming, gigging and dance in general, get an autographed copy of the Belly Dance Handbook here:

Photo & Design by Maharet Hughes, GraphicVibeLA


  1. You really could just do another whole book just on makeup advice for performing. I got provoked into starting a makeup blog by the other ladies in our student troupe and I really should just send them here. I'm trying to drag the whole lot of them to your makeup workshop but we will see how successful I am in September, heh.

  2. I've heard of people setting their stage makeup with hair spray, but have never tried it for a performance for fear of having it run and irritate my eyes. Have you ever tried it before? I'd be interested to know if it actually gives a good extra layer between sweat and makeup or if it just becomes a runny mess.

  3. Thank you for listening to our requests and doing this tutorial!
    I live in SW Florida and find myself faced with gigs at 10:30 am in the outdoors and I panic as my make up style is indoor nightclub at midnight which will NOT work for natural daylight .