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Is Stage Makeup Better Than Regular Makeup?

Posted Mar 15 2012 1:05am

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Bluecatbabby asks…I’m always on the lookout for a cosmetic product that is both better and cheaper than what I’m already using. Looking around on the internet, I read about color cosmetics and skin care lotions, made for stage and film, from brands like Graftobian, Ben Nye, Kryolan, Cinema Secrets, and Mehron. I’m tempted to try them. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of product? Also, are stage cosmetics made any differently from other makeup? Is there any reason why someone shouldn’t wear them as everyday makeup?

The Right Brain responds:
Based on the ingredients used in stage makeup it looks like the answer is “sometimes not different at all,” “sometimes a little different,” and “sometimes a lot different.” Hows that for a definitive response? Well at the risk of over-elaborating, lets review a few examples from Mehron makeup one of the self-proclaimed leaders in theatrical cosmetics.

Not different

Lets look at the primer used to provide a smooth base for makeup application.

Velvet Finish Primer
Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract.

This product uses ingredients that are identical to those in Smashbox and other makeup primers. You know what else? Monistat bikini chafing gel makes a good makeup primer because it uses the same ingredients! So, there’s no benefit in buying special stage makeup primer.

A little different
What about more traditional makeup like eyeshadow and lipstick? Here are two more Mehron examples:

Talc, Zinc Stearate, Magnesium Carbonate, Nylon-12, Octyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Capric/Caprylic Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Iron Oxides (CI 77489), D&C Black #2 (CI 77266), FD&C Blue #1 Lake (CI 42090), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), FD&C Yellow #5 Lake (CI 19140), Mica.

Castor Oil, Pentaerythrityl Tetracaprylate/Tetracaprate, Hydrogenated Castor Oil / Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Candellila , C10-30 Cholesterol / Lanosterol Ester, Microcrystalline Wax, Ceresin , Carnauba , Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Methylparaben, Propylparaben. May Contain: D&C Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), D&C Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Mica.

If you’re a fan of reading ingredient lists (don’t laugh, Left Brain reads the Encyclopedia of  Cosmetic Ingredients every night before bed) these chemicals should be familiar. That’s because they’re the same basic ingredients used in every lipstick and eyeshadow. In the case of stage makeup, though, some ingredient levels are increased to improve longevity. While it’s worth it for performers to ensure that eyeshadow doesn’t crease, you may not like the way the product feels (or looks like up close.) Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself.

A lot different
Greasepaint is a good example of a stage makeup that’s extremely different  than drug store products.

Mineral Oil, Ozokerite, Petrolatum, Lanolin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Fragrance. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), D&C Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), D&C Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Ultramarines (CI 77007), D&C Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Chromium Oxide Green (CI 77288), Iron Oxides (CI 77489), Aluminum Powder (CI 77000), Mica (CI 77019), Talc.

While these are pretty standard ingredients the oil phase is heavier than a traditional foundation. It’s designed to deliver a heavy coating of pigment so that other colors can be applied on top of it (think “clown face.”) It’s also specially formulated not to crack or crease. You’d never wear anything this heavy or pigmented like that in your private life.

Stage makeup is formulated with the same pallet of ingredients as regular cosmetics. In some cases the formulas are exactly the same as drug store products. In other cases they are amped up to more crease resistant and sweat proof to stand up to the rigors of performing. If you experiment you might find some stage makeup that you like better than your regular brands. But stay away from greasepaint unless you want to end up looking like a clown.

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