Personal Recommendations - Rocky Horror Makeup
Last updated: 11/13/2013
I'm not usually a very brand-conscious person, but over the years I have found a couple of brands of makeup that I like. I mostly use stage makeup now, except for rouge/countour powder, eyeshadow and foundation. Your preferences may well be different from mine. I mostly play Magenta, so people playing other characters may find this less useful.
- Mehron Pro-Pencil (stage makeup).
- Just glides on. Really too soft to use for eyebrows (doesn't hold a good point very long). It will smudge. If you're applying this someplace where easy application is required and smudgability is a plus, it's fantastic. Do not apply under your eyes, or it will make you look like a raccoon by the end of the show.
- I love Slim Absolutely Black--a luscious, dark black that's as dark as liquid liner but easier to apply.
- I use a Pro-Pencil Jumbo in Really Bright Red as the base for my lipstick and am pretty happy with it; I've just bought a Slim in white for gliding around Magenta's eyeshadow, and it works beautifully, though it tends to look like reflective tape with some lighting setups; check yours before falling in love with it.
- I recently started using a MAC eyebrow pencil in "Spiked." It's nice, but I'm not sure a $16 eyebrow pencil is 8 times nicer than a regular eyebrow pencil.
- Ben Nye MagiColor Creme Liner Pencil. Nice color, glides on easily, holds a point, and doesn't smudge too easily. Nice for outlining areas of eyeshadow to fill in or pencil in eyebrows. Very slightly blacker black and holds a better tip than Black Radiance and Beautique.
- Beautique (from Sally's Beauty Supply) and Black Radiance eyebrow pencils. These are a good dark black that hold a pretty good tip.
- Winks and Apple lipliner and eyemakeup pencils. Haven't tried their black. Winks also does a nice eyebrow pencil; holds a good point. I discovered Winks at a makeup shop, but the local costume shop carries it too, which is a good endorsement.
- During most of the time I've been buying liquid eyeliner, there was only one street makeup brand available (Maybelline Lineworks). Liquid eyeliner has come back into fashion again, so there are more choices now. I am very impressed with Ben Nye Liquid Eye Liner, which should be available regardless of the fashions of the day. I tested some on my hand at the store, didn't buy it since I had two tubes of Maybelline at home, and was amazed that the line was still there three handwashings later. I tried that with the Maybelline--it faded much more quickly, and any remnants got smudgy much more quickly when wet. The brush is also much easier to use than Maybelline's. However even large costume stores don't seem to keep it in stock; your best bet is to find a small local costume shop that will order it for you. (You can order on-line, but unless you're ordering a lot, you'll lose your shirt on shipping.) Do note that it dries out a lot faster than the Maybelline.
- I've recently started using Maybelline Gel Eye Liner, and so far I like it better than plain liquid liner. The brush started crapping out on me after the second use; a friend recommends buying a fine paint brush at a craft store. Now it's starting to dry out so it's harder to apply, but it's still more resistant to smudging or tears than Maybelline Lineworks.
- I've also tried some of the felt tip type liners but haven't had good luck; they're surprisingly difficult to use and they just aren't dark enough.
- As a Magenta, finding good purple eyeshadows has been a quest for years. I finally got tired of waiting for it to come back into fashion and started looking for a good stage makeup shade. Several people (in both Rocky Horror and punk makeup circles) recommended MAC eyeshadow. They don't change their colors very often, and their makeup includes a lot of pigment. MAC can be found at nicer department stores; there's a link on the links page. Their "Stomp" is a lovely shade for Magenta...and they stopped making it. I bought two, and I've peeked in a couple of times from 2011 to 2013, and they usually have at least one or two shades that looked like they would do nicely, but TRY THEM IN PERSON. Their website colors appear to be truer than they were, and the "Color Play" feature can at least help you narrow down what you're looking for, but beware. "Fig" is the color I'd pick out of their lineup in person, and on their old website it looked great...but I bought some and on me it's way too dark ($15 wasted; damn). Try before you buy.
- After spending years annoyed by my mascara, I've finally found a brand I'm pretty happy with: I use L'Oreal Voluminous. Thanks to the rhpscostumes folks at LiveJournal for suggesting it (and a bunch of other options, too). To my surprise it's sometimes cheaper than Cover Girl or Maybelline; it's good and dark and doesn't dry out quickly. Cover Girl's is very nice but seems to dry out very quickly and I never liked Maybelline (in the standard pink tube). I always buy waterproof; my eyes tend to water and water-based mascara makes me look like a raccoon.
- I've been trying to match the right color for years, bouncing between a darker red like Magenta wears during Time Warp and the red used in the Poster Magazine.
- L'Oreal's "British Red" is fairly close to the Poster Magazine red. It's a classic non-blue-based red.
- To match Time Warp, I'm currently using Mary Kay's "Sizzling Red" or MAC's "Dare You." They're more a purplish red than the classic red. Both are about the same price (about three times what a L'Oreal lipstick costs) and they have a slight tendency to go pinkish with wear. I'm still working on that; I may layer a red underneath.
- Nail polish:
- Sally Hansen Hard as Nails. Reasonably priced, good color coverage with just one coat, nice finish, and usually doesn't chip for at least a day or so. I always take the polish off the next day, so this is all I'm looking for.
- To avoid: Wet 'n' Wild. I think maybe they've reformulated; the red nailpolish can look a very different shade if there is even the slightest difference in the thickness of the coating.
A word to other foundation-using newbies--don't panic; the foundation goes on a lot lighter than it looks in the container.
- Street Makeup
- Pressed Powder
- When I decided to take the plunge to foundation instead of clown white, I started with Maybelline pressed powder in True Ivory. It works pretty well, and I still use it. I've noticed if my skin has any dry spots, this emphasizes them.
- Liquid (Mousse) Foundation
- As I've gotten older, I've started wearing liquid foundation formulated for more mature skin; it goes on pretty easily and looks a little more natural. I used Maybelline's Dream Liquid Mousse for a while, but the lightest shade isn't quite light enough for Magenta given our current lighting setup.
- Several people recommended Max Factor, but I waited too long; it's no longer made in the US.
- Recently a friend recommended Estee Lauder; it's possible to get it in lighter shades than the Maybelline (it also costs about three times as much). It looks great from a distance, but I was horrified at what I looked like close up after a show, so I may go back to my stage makeup creme foundation. Right now I'm using a fancy natural brand, but it's crazy expensive, so I'm trying Kryolan liquid next, after having it applied in-store and liking it. It's only twice as expensive as street makeup, and it's formulated for theater.
- Stage Makeup
- Creme Foundation
When I'm not using the pressed powder, I use Ben Nye Creme Foundation. I've been bouncing back and forth between P-4 (Ultra Fair) and P-41 (Fairest) for a couple of years, depending on lighting. My husband uses one or the other for Frank.
- Several people recommended their Geisha shade. It's too pink on me; it might look terrific on you.
- I used Ben Nye's Special White for a couple of years; it looks about the same as clown white covered with the Maybelline. I switched theaters and had to switch to Alabaster as Special White made me look like a ghost.
- Cake Makeup
- I also tried Ben Nye's cake makeup, which emphasized every flaw on my face, including some I'd been previously unaware of. (Some people love it. Maybe my skin is too old.)
I've become a big fan of the Ben Nye Neutralizer Creme Crayon - I use it to cover pimples, slight skin discolorations, etc. I play Magenta so I use NP-0, "Ultra Lite." Goes on easy and blends easily, though you have to be careful not to wipe it off while blending until it's set with powder.
- I use Ben Nye's Lumiere Luxe powder in Ice. It can be difficult to blend; use a light touch with a brush (tap off any excess before applying). If you prefer a cream, I've been happy with Graftobian's Luster Creme in White Opal. (I'm not sure what to apply it with; I use a Q-tip.) I apply this for the final "give me cheekbones" shimmer.
- Clown white:
- Kryolan. I tried Ben Nye and found it too goopy. This goes on well without streaking.
- To avoid: water-based Halloween white-in-a-tube.
- Translucent powder:
- I like Ben Nye Neutral Set. I use the tinted powder sometimes for Trixie, but I find the translucent is better for Magenta.
- Brushes and other tools:
- It took me a long time to learn to use brushes instead of foam applicators for eyeshadow. However they do appear to be easier on my eyelids (they drag less), and they don't disintegrate the way the cheap foam applicators do. I'm amazed at the way the eyeshadow brush I bought holds its shape. Try picking up an eyeshadow brush and see if you like it.
Brushes appear to give a little more control over how much stuff you apply, and while they do seem to take a little longer, it's better to apply a little rouge with a brush and build up more than to apply it with a sponge and then go "oh crap, that's too much."
Here are the tools I reach for the most. There are many other useful types of brushes, such as the angled brush, but I'm not as good with them so I don't consider them essential.
- Powder puff - I shake my powder onto this, fold it a couple of times to push the powder into it a bit (see Miscellaneous Tips above), then apply all over my face. I bought some small ones once so they'd transport more easily, but really, you want one that's a couple inches across.
- "Kabuki" brush (powder dome brush) - After the powder sits for a minute or two, I use this to brush all the loose powder off. I like the retractable kind so it minimizes mess in my makeup bag.
- Powder brush - flatter than the dome-shaped kabuki brush. I use this to brush extra powder from around my lips after I've powdered them. Offers more control than the kabuki brush but is smaller. I used this for years for all my powdering needs before buying a kabuki brush.
- Lip brush. Retractable, again - this makes a big mess otherwise. I don't use this often but if you're stuck with a lipstick that's mostly used up, this is the tool to use.
- Eyeshadow brush - a dense brush, sort of flattish with a curved profile. Like the shape of those cheap foam applicators, but less pointy.