With bright lights, heavy make-up, and the heat of a packed show, how do stage actresses manage to look so beautiful? To find out, we braved theatres from London to Paris, asking for their beauty secrets. Here’s what they said:
1. Blend the lines
Ermonela Jaho, who is singing the title role in Manon for The Royal Opera, lines her lid with black eye pencil, followed by a lighter liner around the edge. ‘Working with so many talented make-up artists over the years, I have picked up a few tricks,’ she says. ‘Eyes are a very effective communication tool for an artist.’
2. Use products like the professionals
Carol Furtado, the leading lady in Merchants of Bollywood at Sadler’s Wells, wears Kryolan Professional make-up for a performance. ‘It seems to be a popular choice for industry professionals,’ she says. ‘For the show we use The Falsies waterproof mascara. It’s pretty much industrial strength. And the Revlon black kajal pencil is something I’d never leave home without.’
3. Stop the spots before they start
Actress Kathleen Stavert, recent winner of MonologueSlam UK, takes agnus castus in drop form with water. ‘It balances my hormones and keeps the spots at bay,’ she says. Agnus castus is an aromatic tree often used in herbal remedies.
4. When you need makeup that stays, try MAC
Willemijn Verkaik, who plays Elphaba in the award-winning musical Wicked at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, notes her green face paint and the foundation are MAC. ‘It’s very high quality and lasts a long time. And it doesn’t damage the skin,’ she says.
5. Drink your green tea
Several actresses cited starting their day with a cup of green tea as leading to glowing skin and relaxed moods. Green tea is often linked to numerous health benefits, including bone health and weight loss.
6. Try apple cider vinegar in the shower
‘My hair has to maintain shine and health if it’s going to be gunked with products for a character. So after conditioner, I rinse with water and apple cider vinegar. It locks in shine,’ says Kathleen.
7. …And on the face
Kathleen applies a mixture of one part water and one part organic apple cider vinegar onto a cotton pad and dabs her face. ‘You can feel like a wax figure under stage lights. So this acts as a brightener, astringent, and cleanser all in one.’
8. Exfoliate – and if in Paris, go to a Hamam
Paris-based actress Tamara Astor does this once a week, visiting the Turkish Hamam attached to the Paris Mosquet. ‘It’s women-only on Sundays. Do the soap and salt rub exfoliation. It makes you feel like a snake shedding a layer of skin.’ Those closer to home can mirror the experience by dry brushing before soaking in a long bath.
9. Apply lip balm to the eyelids
Carol does this before applying make-up. ‘It stays on much longer this way, and also appears to brighten the overall appearance of my eyes.’
10. Moisturise the skin with Vitamin E oil
‘It does wonders for my skin, so I like to get Vitamin E facials, which are particularly appreciated during winters,’ notes Carol. She recommends using the oil after a bath.
11. Protect the skin
Underneath the green make-up, Willemijn uses Derma Shield, a protective foam by Benchmark. ‘It functions as a sort of film to prevent the make-up from going deep into the skin,’ she says, which can clog pores. Ermonela creates a barrier with hydrating creams and Argan oil.
12. Let your skin breathe
When not on stage, several of the actresses noted they don’t wear make-up. ‘I think it’s one of the reasons my skin still looks good,’ said Willemijn. Claire agreed. ‘Less make-up off stage is healthier for your skin and appearance in the long run.’
13. Don’t shy from the gym
All of the actresses cited regular workouts, ranging from yoga to heavy gym sessions, as helping them keep their glow. ‘Squats and weights might seem like a workout for boxers, but I have seen some amazing results for singers in terms of physical beauty, energy, and inner peace,’ said Ermonela.