Cream-Based vs Cake Makeup in Theater

Whether you’re a theater makeup artist or an enthusiastic amateur, you’ve probably wondered what the difference is between cream-based vs cake makeup. Which one is better for theater? Which lasts longer? In this post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of cream-based and cake makeup for theater so that you can make the best decision for your next production.

How is theater makeup different from traditional cosmetics?

Makeup for theater, also known as stage makeup, has a different job than traditional cosmetics. Stage makeup highlights a performer’s facial features under bright stage lights. To do this, it has to be much thicker and more pigmented than traditional makeup to combat the brightness of the stage lights. 

Stage makeup is also designed to last a long time. Performers often sweat a lot while they are working under stage lights, and they sometimes have fast costume changes that the stage makeup has to endure. 

Because stage makeup is viewed from a long distance rather than close up, performers often have very dramatic and unnatural-looking makeup from up close. However, once the look is viewed under the stage lighting and from the audience’s distance, it looks much more natural. 

Three popular stage makeup brands are Ben Nye, Mehron, and Wolf. Each brand offers cream-based and cake makeup to choose from. They are high-quality products that come in many different skin tones. What’s the difference between cream-based and cake makeup for theater?

What is cream-based makeup?

Cream-based makeup is oil-based. It is applied with a dry sponge or brush, then sealed with translucent powder over the top. Cream makeup can also be blended and manipulated with your fingers. It has thick coverage that lasts a very long time and easily covers latex appliances and tattoos. The colors are highly pigmented and can be mixed easily. 

Although cream-based makeup offers full coverage, it may not be the best choice for very oily skin because the makeup is also oil-based. For better makeup application, you should be sure to use a makeup primer designed for oily skin underneath the cream-based makeup.

What is cake makeup?

Cake makeup is a compressed powder. It starts dry, then is activated by wetting a sponge or brush for application. Because the makeup is water-based, it is light and works great for people with sensitive skin. It dries quickly and is also very easy to remove. 

One of the biggest disadvantages of cake makeup is that it is challenging to achieve a consistent look. You need to dampen your sponge or brush with the same amount of water each time to achieve a similar look. However, if you do make a mistake, cake makeup is easy to wipe off and re-apply. 

Which makeup is better for theater?

Cream-based vs cake makeup: Which is better for theater? Both cream-based and cake makeup have their place in the world of theatrical makeup. Choosing which kind of makeup to use depends on what kind of coverage you are trying to achieve. 

If you are working on someone with more sensitive skin and need lighter coverage, cake makeup is the best choice. However, cake makeup can be more challenging to apply evenly, and it is much easier to remove. That means it is less likely to hold up against sweat and quick changes. 

Cream-based makeup has a much thicker and more pigmented application than cake makeup. It holds up exceptionally well against sweat, stage lighting, and quick changes, and it is easy to apply and manipulate. If you are looking for something that is long-lasting and offers exceptional coverage with easy application, cream-based stage makeup may be the best choice. 

How can LMI help?

Teaching the art and science of makeup artistry to the next generation of makeup and special effects artists since 2010, the L Makeup Institute offers classes covering all styles of makeup artistry in Las Vegas and Dallas. There are thousands of cosmetology schools, but only a handful of schools like L Makeup Institute, focus exclusively on preparing you to work as a professional makeup artist immediately upon graduating. Discover why LMI is well known in the MUA community as producing talented, well-rounded, and sought-after graduates.

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