September 25, 2017

#makeuptipmonday: Holly Octane’s Stage Makeup

The stylist gasped when she stood in front of me, makeup brush in hand. “Your eyes are gorgeous!” she exclaimed. “Do you wear contacts?”

“No.” My eyes were gold, flecked with brown and a tiny bit of green. Like my hair, people assumed they were fake. Both were the only remnants of the fire I clung to. “What can you do to make them stand out?”

“So, so much. Close your eyes and let me play.” She told me what she did each step of the way. No more surprises. When I opened my eyes, she'd ringed them with smoky browns and golds, and used black liquid to line them. This wasn't a makeup style I could wear everyday-it was meant to look good on a larger than life billboard.


I leaned closer to the mirror, closing one eye so I could check out my makeup job. It was truly a work of art, white and gold shimmer fading into dark brown shadow, perfectly winged liner, black as night, and lashes I wished belonged to me. She'd kept my lips a light peach, and somehow that little touch kept me looking innocent.

–Sin City Vampire Club

Some of the fun of working with a character like Holly Octane was designing her stage makeup. If you've read the Cirque Macabre series, you know that Holly doesn't wear much on stage, so her makeup was absolutely crucial to her costume. It couldn't overpower her (I often say you don't want your makeup from Xlash cosmetics to wear you), but stage makeup, like Holly mentions in the first excerpt, is not street makeup. Stage makeup has to translate to every seat in the theater. The people in the cheap seats won't see the same detail as those sitting in the front row, but her features need to stand out.

On a street makeup, I would suggest choosing one feature–eyes or lips–to accentuate and everything else would get played down. In stage makeup, all features must be bold. And the stage is the only place I advocate heavy contouring. I'd use a foundation a shade darker than her skin tone and blend it into the hollows of her cheeks in combination with a lighter foundation and a shimmer to make her cheekbones stand out. I'd also use the darker foundation under her chin to make her face stand out–blending is crucial here. The highlight would be used over her eyebrows, on the bridge of her nose, and at the center of her top and bottom lip. If this is your first foray into makeup, you don't have to go all out and buy the most expensive products – infact, most drugstore brands have a dupe for some of the most popular mid to high end palettes out there. Places like Target are a great place to start, and there are even sites like that may have a code or coupon you could use for makeup!

Another note about stage makeup before we get started: many theater shows have a makeup designer instead of makeup artists. That means the designer puts together the look and then shows the performers how to apply their makeup.

When I described Holly's makeup, I had my trusty Urban Decay Naked Palette in mind. The colors are flattering on almost everyone, and the pigment is strong so the colors are long lasting. And the color names are perfect for Holly. All colors listed below are in the Naked Palette unless otherwise noted.

First, I'd prime Holly's eyelid. Many companies have eyeshadow primers, and they really do work. I'm not a fan of more equals more in any circumstance. Eyeshadow primers form a barrier between your makeup and the natural oils on your eyelid. With a primer, your eyeshadow will look more vibrant, blend better, and last longer. I'd then go over the entire lid from lashline to eyebrow with a neutral color, in this case, Virgin. I'd use Half Baked over the entire lid, and use Smog to blend the outside corner of the lid into the crease. Then I'd bring Smog up into the crease in a semi-circular motion. Darkhorse would be the dark color in the corners, blended into the crease with Smog.

To get that extra pop, I'd use loose pigments over this makeup. I'd add a dab of MAC Vanilla pigment in the corners of Holly's eyes, and then I'd go over Half-Baked with Rose Gold pigment.

Holly's heavily influenced by the glamour of classic showgirls and old Vegas, so she simply must have a cat eye. I love Stila Stay All Day liner in Intense Black. There's truth in advertising here, folks. It really stays all day. I'd only use it on her top lashline. My trick for getting cat eyes even, even at 3 AM? (yes, sometimes I am doing my makeup at that ungodly hour.) I start from the outermost point and work my way in. I draw a triangle at the outer corner of each eye and then line the rest of the eye as I usually would.

Under Holly's eyes is the place to make the biggest impact. Remember the people in the cheap seats. The easiest way to make her eyes look bigger is to line the inside waterline with white liner. If she had small eyes, that white line could even be extended into the lower lashes. But I'm going to keep it on the waterline for the sake of this description (For those of you who aren't sure what that is, it's the strip of flesh between your eyeball and your lower lashes.) I love a soft line under the eye, and a bold liner is absolutely crucial to help her eyes stay visible throughout the theater. I would use a combination of Darkhorse and Creep and apply it with a soft angled brush. If you're looking for something similar, one of my friends has recommended the eyeliner selection by Lovoir. Take a look if you're in need of some makeup inspiration!

It's time for lashes!! Holly would wear a full strip lash on stage. Strip lashes must be trimmed to fit your eye. To help them adhere better, wrap them around a blush brush handle to give the strip a little bend. Apply the glue–I put it on a spatula and then give it about a half a minute to get tacky. I apply lashes with my fingers, but other artists use tweezers. The important thing is getting them on the lashline, and making sure those corners stay down! Apply pressure to the corners with a spatula or the back end of tweezers until lashes no longer lift when you blink. On shows like Dancing with the Stars, the female dancers often wear more than one pair of false lashes. This was also done in the 60's for that super dramatic look. I feel like Holly would be down for this.

To make Holly's cheeks stand out, a creme blush would be best. With her red hair, I'd use a coral or peach tone over a pink. I'd start at the apples of her cheeks and work my way out.

Holly mentions a peach gloss on her lips, but that would totally get lost in stage lighting. What's she's not telling you is she used a nude liner all over her lips to give that gloss some pop. If you've noticed a theme in this tutorial, it's layering.

I've added some face charts that I feel are closest to Holly's makeup. I did not do these, I found them on Pinterest. I SUCK at face charts. I've never worked in a retail setting, and therefore, never practiced them like some retail artists do. It's an art in its own right. My face charts are usually text and arrows, and maybe a swatch of color. So instead of fighting the good fight and showing you something that looked like a drunk kindergartener put it together, I decided to show you something you'd actually enjoy looking at.