Ageing make up for theatre

There are a number of reasons you might need to do ageing make up for theatre. You might want to age an actor to show the passing of time. In some plays, particularly farces, the script might call for younger actors to be cast and aged comically for effect. Or the perfect person for the part just might have the wrong playing age.

Whatever the reason, ageing make up for theatre is one of the most fun stage makeup techniques to do and gives you a sneak (often terrifying) peek at your future self which means it is often much more fun to do on other people.
The key to ageing make up for theatre is a current trend: contour and highlight, except you are going for the opposite effect.

So this is me normally.

Ageing Make Up for Theatre

And here is a step by step guide to ageing quickly.

1. The first thing you need to do is clean your face of any makeup and move any hair out of the way.

2. Apply foundation all over your face including your lips. Your lips tend to become paler as you age and the foundation will help to create this illusion. A good foundation will also act as a base for your make up so that it goes on smoother and holds up better under stage lights.

Ageing make up for theatre

Tip: I don’t have particularly full natural eyebrows but if you do you can use your foundation to make them appear thinner as they are likely to thin out as you age.

3. Set everything with a good powder.

4. Your nose tends to appear bigger when you are older so using your contouring palette apply a highlight down the centre of your nose and shadows down each side to mimic this effect.

Ageing make up for theatre

Tip: I use a powder contour palette for this look as powder tends to be more ageing than cream.

5. Next it time to bring out your wrinkles! Wrinkles should not be uniform straight lines across your face. Instead, you should try to get them where they’re going to naturally form for you. You can find them by raising your eyebrows, winking, frowning and smiling.

Ageing make up for theatreAgeing make up for theatreAgeing make up for theatre

6. Apply brown pencil to the natural lines on your face and to the lines between your nose and mouth and between your chin and lower lips. Also, apply to your dimples if you have them.

Ageing make up for theatre

7. Then use a small flat brush and the shadow colour from your contour palette to blend your wrinkles in.

Ageing make up for theatre

8. To create eye bags use your brown pencil to draw a U-shape beneath each eye.

9. Using a flat brush fill each U with your highlight colour and simultaneously blend the line in.

10. Apply your shadow colour immediately beneath your lower lash line.

Ageing make up for theatre

11. Use a grey or white eyeshadow or powder to fill your eyebrows.

12. Use a large powder brush to give everything one last blending in and set with translucent powder.

Tip: Remember that while your stage makeup may look a little silly close up, your audience won’t be close enough to see the detail. It’s always an idea to have a practice of your make up well before your show and ask someone such as your director or stage manager to look at the effect in both the front and back rows of your audience. This way you can make any tweaks needed before opening night.
Donna Day

D M Day is a writer and actor who lives in Liverpool, England. She writes flash, science and fantasy fiction, and poetry. She is currently working on a war poetry collection and a parallel universe trilogy. She runs acting and writing workshops and performed in the first Liverpool Fringe Festival in June 2017.