Hey, hey! It’s Destinee here and in this video/post we are talking about essential products to have on hand when doing makeup for Black actors. These items are my best-kept secrets, but I am ready to share my experiences with you to help you help others!

Moisturizer & Liquid or Cream Foundation

The key to radiant skin is moisture. When working with melanated skin, the moisture gives stage lights a better surface to reflect off. Remember that light doesn’t bounce well off matte surfaces. Moisture improves radiance!

Investing in a good moisturizer is essential. This is usually the first product to touch the face. Moisturizer also serves as a barrier between skin and the other products used during the makeup application. Filling the pores in skin with good products keeps the yucky stuff out … yucky as in that third ingredient you cannot even pronounce on the product you love! 

When choosing foundation for the stage, I love using a cream-based product like Ben Nye. Ben Nye and other theatrical makeup brands were designed with the actors in mind. With a wide range of colors and undertones for deeper skin tones, I am rarely let down by this brand. (I am not paid to endorse this product. It is really one of my favorites!)

Cream-based theatrical foundations have the coverage and durability to withstand a sweaty night of performing. This is the main difference between theatrical makeup and streetwear makeup. Liquid or cream streetwear foundations can be used for theatrical purposes, but you may sacrifice coverage and durability. Of course, use whatever products you have access to. The product will work if you know how to work it!

Matte Eyeshadows with Yellow & Red Undertones

Earn BROWNIE points and always have the essential matte eyeshadows on hand when applying theatrical makeup! (Unless specific modifications are required.) It is common to work with multiple actors who each have a different shade of skin, some cooler or warmer tones. Your range of matte-brown eyeshadows will help you pivot when you need to and will be a game changer. 

You likely already know this, but all nude pallets are not created equal! Brands I have used recently worth mentioning that have beautiful matte eyeshadows for deeper skin tones are Morphe and Juvia’s. (Again, I am not paid to endorse these.) 

I like to assemble my own nude pallet for a specific actor’s skin tone. I hand pick the eyeshadows to uses in my Z-palette. This magnetic palette is a genius invention to keep eyeshadows, blush, and lip colors all in one place. 

Tinted Setting Powders

It is common practice during a makeup application to set your liquids and cream with powder. Setting powders reduce shine and lock in your liquid and cream products to reduce them transferring to items like clothes. Too much of anything is a bad thing and the same is true for setting powders. Too much powder can give the actor a ghost-like appearance especially if the powder is not tinted. Ben Nye has a beautiful range of setting powders that can be mixed to give you the perfect shade. You can also use this setting powder to even out highlight or contour that may have gotten a little intense during the makeup application. 

BUT WAIT! If powder reduces shine and gives matte effect, doesn’t that conflict with the reflective quality of the moisture we just talked about? I’m so glad you asked. There must be balance. Setting powder is very thin but is a product that can be built up for more coverage. Think about powder foundations that people use just to buff out uneven colors in their face. This is the same concept. Using thin layers of tinted setting powder takes away excess shine without removing skin radiance. We need that radiance and reflective quality to accentuate features under stage lights which brings us back to the importance of MOISTURE!

I’d love to stay and share more gems with you so I guess that means we will have to meet here again next time. If you find these tips helpful, here is a link to more Tips, Tricks, and Takeaways with Destinee. And watch for additional posts coming soon! 

Destinee Steele has an MFA in wig and makeup design. She is the CEO of The Beauty Menagerie, LLC. She is also a Founding Board Member of Black Hair and Makeup United. Destinee is a regular content contributor to Dramatics.org. To learn more visit her at destineesteele.com.

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