No sweat, huh? : Making Belly Dance Stage Makeup Last

June 3, 2011 6 Comments

If you read online discussions with bellydancers talking about makeup, you will find an awful lot of them commenting on how much they sweat when they perform… most seem to think their problem is unusual. For those that give their show their all, I don’t think they sweat any more than any other athlete that puts in the same effort, but nobody expects a runner or soccer player to still look fresh and glamorous at the finish line or final buzzer. It’s no surprise that so many dancers are looking for that secret technique for sweatproof stage makeup. This exact request was sent to me from long-time Daily Bellydance Quickies subscriber, Sasha, so I thought I’d dig up some info on this hot topic as we head into the extra-sweaty season, especially here in the solar oven we call Phoenix.

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I am not a makeup artist by any stretch of the imagination. Anything I’ve learned has been through lots of trial and perhaps even more error in doing my own stage face. This post is also not a recommendation of any products. Think of it as a summary of what dancers are using and recommending to each other online. I haven’t tried many of these personally since I’ve already found what works for me – but it may not work for you.  So, if you haven’t found your solution, maybe some of this information will help you experiment intelligently.

My personal choice is MAC Studio Fix base. I like it because it’s full coverage and stays put (on me). I tend to get red-cheeked when I dance hard and this keeps that under cover. I go light on the moisturizer and make sure my face is completely dry before I buff it in with a short, flat-topped brush. After a show I carefully and lightly blot my face with a towel and before the next show might touch it up with a light dusting of Studio Fix pressed powder if needed.  No, not sophisticated but like I said, I’m not a makeup artist and it works for me.

The suggestions I gathered from online conversations seem to fall into two categories – primers and sealers. Relatively few talk about actual “sweatproof” foundation formulas.  There were a few sketchy suggestions too, so before we go on let me just say that applying roll-on antiperspirant to my entire face or misting my finished face with hairspray do not sound like anything I’ll be trying!

Primers are liquids or gels applied before foundation. They are formulated to create a smooth surface for the foundation to stick to and (supposedly) improve the staying power of your makeup. A quick search shows that just about every makeup manufacturer from drugstore Revlon to high-end Clarins and NARS makes a primer. The ones with the most positive reviews seem to be MAC Prep and Prime and Smashbox Photo Finish. The theatrical makeup line Kryolan reportedly makes a price-friendly one.  The thing I’ve found most odd is that the official product descriptions from the makers do not claim their products will improve the durability of foundation. It’s the users that are circulating that information.

Sealers are applied over finished makeup; some are sprayed and some are brushed on. MAC Fix Plus gets a lot of good chatter in stage makeup discussions, but again, the official product description doesn’t make any claims to keep makeup in its place. Another product called Model In A Bottle, claims to do exactly that however. SheLaq by Benefit is one of the “brush on” sealers and some users have said it feels heavy, but reviews are generally good. There were a few good mentions for Make Up For Ever’s Mist & Fix too.  Ben Nye Final Seal is made for the stage and makes a bold claim, “Apply over any completed makeup for smudge and water resistance. Final Seal keeps makeup in place on performers who heavily perspire.”  I’m curious to see what happens to my makeup in the steam room with this one….hmmm. Check back with me on that.

Do you use any special products to keep your stage face from melting? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Tell us in the comments below.

Mahin (121 Posts)

Professional instructor and performer of Middle Eastern belly dance, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and author or the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”. Belly Dance Artrepreneur, Workshop instructor, performer, event producer, and bellydance writer.

  1. retrokali
    June 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Its all about the primers, face,lip and most importantly…EYE! Can’t live without my eye primer. 🙂

  2. Abigail McBride
    June 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I tend to be really careful (read obsessive), about making sure that what I put in and on my body is as pure and harmless as possible. Recently, I found a website
    called Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which lists thousands of products, tells you exactly what’s in them, and the dangers those ingredients might cause. Here’s the link to their info on foundations, in case you’re interested (or obsessed), too.

    Dance your prayers into being….


  3. Lilithnoor
    June 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Eyelid primer is a must for me, as I find eyeshadow tends to make a break for the cheekbones at the first hint of a sweat. I also use a lip stain from Estée Lauder that could survive a nuclear assault, so when I’ve chewed or soaked off the normal lipstick on top I don’t have coke bottle lips.

    I’m not usually too worried about sweating off the rest of my face, as I don;t go in for exotic contouring or bronzer. One thing I have realised is that a mere sniff of excitement or exertion has me red cheeked, so I’ve given up blusher. ‘Scarlet fever victim’ is not a good look on me.

    1. mahinbellydance
      June 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Lip stain – great idea! I don’t do much blush either for the same reason. I do like to add a little pale pink shimmer to the tops of my cheekbones though.

  4. Foxy
    June 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

    My top picks are: Eye Primer (Benefit Stay Dont Stray), MAC false eyelashes, Michellori eyeliner, MAC bronzing powder in Golden, Lancome Hypnose mascara

  5. Fotia
    June 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    MAC is my recommendation for foundation, blush, eye shadow and lipstick because they have strong staying power. Liquid eyeliners are a must because they do not melt. Great article!


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