Face Makeup for Performances - Step by Step

Dr. C.P. Unnikrishnan

Section 4

Important factors to be considered while preparing for Face Makeup – Factors that are also commonly applicable to Bharatanaatyam, Mohiniyattam & Kuchipudi styles

Nature and tone of the skin, ornaments worn on head, costumes, ornaments, the style of Naatya to be presented (Bharatanaatyam/Mohiniyaattam/Kuchipudi), even if the presentation is in a single facial makeup and attire, as a dancer/danseuse, would there be any indication of any character?, Expected lighting on the Stage, stage setting, Lighting in the Greenroom etc. are the most important factors to be considered. 

Even while preparing the face, from the beginning itself,it has to be realized that the face has to be seen along with the uncovered parts like the neck, arms & lower parts of the legs viz. ankle and feet etc. It is also important to know well in advance, the colour of and the patterns on the costumes, size and details of patterns of the ornaments, especially of those worn on the head. When a performer has completed his/her total Makeup, the Face Makeup, Costumes & Ornaments mutually compliment among themselves to express a Sculpture. This is a very important fact to be borne in mind by the performer and all the makeup artists.

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There are different types of skin that vary from individual to individual according to the body constitution. Basically, there are five types viz. Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination (some parts are oily and others dry) & Sensitive. They could be smooth or rough. Skin tone (complexion) may be fair, dark or of different tones (shades) between the former two. There may be pimples, scars left by the pimples, moles or other marks. Irrespective of gender differences, the facial skin bears hairs. In those children who have not become adults, the hairs are normally smooth and light. Females, even when they become adults normally the nature of hairs does not show conspicuous changes. But, the lines of growth, curls etc. are of different types. The distortions due to the above variations would become conspicuous only when foundation, powder, pancake, colours etc. are applied. These are applicable also to the uncovered parts mentioned above. Therefore, while doing the Face Makeup, to prevent distortions, one should know specifically how to apply the necessary applicants on each part of the skin. It is essential to know if a stage performer is allergic to any materials used for Makeup. Accordingly, if necessary, safer alternative materials or methods must be used.

Few important basic tips to keep the skin healthy

Stage performers must be careful to avoid all that are likely to cause any sort of aberrations to their normal bright skin. Over exposure to sun light, extreme temperatures, over consuming of oily, fatty fried and sweet food items are to be avoided. This would avoid the skin becoming too oily and also formation of pimples or similar eruptions. 

Drinking sufficient pure water (not too hot or cold) is necessary to avoid drying of skin and formation of undue wrinkles.

In the diet plan, one must ensure that it also contains the vitamins and minerals needed for skin-health.

If exposed to dust and other pollutants, body must be cleansed carefully. 

Human skin has glands that produce a kind of oil that keeps the skin healthy. Therefore, avoid rubbing soap or similar cleansing agents straight on skin. 

Regular use of artificial makeup materials must be avoided. 

Exercise the eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, lips, cheeks and neck daily. Do systematic face-massage before and after the exercise session.

If any skin aberration is noted, consult an expert and follow his / her advice.

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Costumes & Ornaments

A perfectly done face Makeup might turn out to be ineffective if the costumes and ornaments are not apt for the performer & performance. This is more important as far as the hair dressing and the ornaments worn on head are concerned. The completed ‘Figure’ as mentioned earlier is a Sculpture or a Character. In either case, the ‘Figure’ must have the attractiveness of a Sculpture. There are certain specific positions where each item has to be worn. There are certain proportions to be maintained between the ornaments and different parts of the face and the face as a whole. Setting the hair is an important component. The hairline margins and their shapes on the forehead and on either side of the face, parting of hair on either sides of the central line, positioning of the rings and their height & decorating with flowers must be carefully done. The sizes, designs and placing of Chutti, Tilakam (pottu / naamam), Sun & Moon must be seriously considered. Similarly, the sizes and designs of the ornaments worn on ears and nose are also important. They have certain symbolic significances. Errors in these aspects, briefly mentioned above, would subdue or alter the perfect proportion, despite the good work done on a face. Face is the most important part involved in the process of acting. If the proportions are wrong, they will adversely influence the process of acting.

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The colours, designs and wearing of costumes and ornaments prescribed for the entire body are no less important in preparing the necessary ‘Stage-Figure’. If the ‘Figure’ is not perfect, the dance movements and acting would be less effective or poor. The norms for the above are dealt in detail in the texts on Sculpture. If a ‘Stage-Figure’ is expected to indicate a specific character, due indications are to be included in the Face Makeup, Costumes and Ornaments. Eg: Satyabhaama, Gollabhaama, Jakkulapuranthari etc. as in Kuchipudi; when these characters are presented as in solo items.