Making Up Edna

Published on August 20, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

I’ve been having so much fun creating my take on the character of Edna Turnblad for the Empire Theatre Company production of Hairspray, and a big part of that creation has been the makeup.  If you have seen the show, you know that Edna goes through quite the transformation during “Welcome to the 60s” and she only has about a minute and a half to do it in!  There’s a new dress, some fabulous new hair, cute new heels…but what to do with that face?  There isn’t time for a drastic fantastic change, so when I created her look I wanted to create an eye look with nude and neutral shades that would sort of blend into the background while Edna was a frustrated hausfrau (with that gawdawful roadkill hair!) but would look sleek and sophisticated once paired with a sharp new ‘do and a quick change of lipstick!

The makeup has changed a bit through the run of the show, and I’ve taken this opportunity to try out some new products, so I thought it might be fun to give you a rundown of the products I’ve been using to created Edna’s look!  And to start off, here’s a small gallery of Edna’s 6 costume looks from the show:

You can see the first two start off very mousy – the hair is a mess, and the outfits, though cute in their own way, are shapeless and kind of dull.  She doesn’t have any confidence – though if you check out the intense chest cleavage I did that night, she definitely has some assets to work with!  Hello there, Busty McChesterton!  The third outfit shows off her makeover in a dress that matches her daughter’s look.  With the roses dress, we get to see Edna looking unique on her own – it’s not just her daughter pushing her forward but her own blossoming confidence!  The fifth outfit is for the duet, “You’re Timeless to Me.”  She’s at home with her husband and it’s still a little campy, but more informal.  Her hair is softer and less constructed, she’s back in her comfy slippers, and she’s still trying to find a way to become the woman she wants to me.  In the final outfit, we finally see her emerge into a confident woman who not only loves and supports her family, but is pursuing her own dreams and passions.  It’s a wonderful arc to get to play, and the makeup and costuming were fun to do.

So let’s talk about some of the products I used to help me “make up” my character:


For part of the run, I was using my go-to primer: Too Faced Hangover Rx.  I love the light coconut scent (one of the only scented coconut things that doesn’t make me think of tanning lotion!).  It’s light and applies smoothly, and gives me a great base for laying on my foundation.  For 3 or 4 shows, I also thought it would be fun to give my new Kat Von D Lock It Featherweight Primer a go.  I’m working on a larger Kat Von D post, and I thought, what better way to experiment with it than to use it for an actual show.  I’ll write in more depth about it in the Kat Von D post, but I generally like it.  It had a weird feeling during application – it was thinner than the Too Faced Primer but felt strangely tacky when I applied it – but the final result was fantastic.  I also went a little buckwild at CVS and decided to try out the NYX Soft Focus Primer Balm (I was torn between that and a primer spray – what?!).  It was a little hard to work with at first, as it was hard to tell how much was on the included sponge, where exactly you had applied it, etc. but the final result for that one was flawless – and at about 1/3 the price of the other two primers!


I’ve been wanting to try out some of the “full coverage” foundations available at Sephora for a while to see if they would work for stage coverage, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for that little experiment as well.  I have two shades of the Too Faced Born This Way foundation, Nude and Vanilla, that I’ve used for a base at some vendor shows where I’ve shown off Tyra Beauty products and in some Facebook live broadcasts, so I decided to give them a go for the first week of the run.  I painted them on thick, and they gave me the coverage I needed.  I started to run low on the Nude shade (that one is my main shade, closest to my skintone – Vanilla is for lightening and brightening!) and since the color match isn’t perfect, I decided to give the new Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation a try in shade 3.5 (for pink undertones – on me that translates to red and blotchy!).  It gave great coverage and matched my skin better than the other shades.  I’ve also done a little blending with all three shades, and they play very well together.  Of course, I couldn’t entirely stray away from the theatrical world: I did use Ben Nye Cream Foundation in Creamy Peach to do my neck/chest and to help cover my two visible tattoos.


So if I didn’t already love the Tyra Beauty Sculpt in a Stick before this show…honey, I am a believer!  The creamy formula worked perfectly with both brands of foundation and help me cut some sickening contour lines.  I mostly use the Deep, though occasionally I will throw on a little Deeper Than Deep for the areas I really want to darken, and some Light if I want a more subtle approach (wait, did I really just use the word subtle?  Moi?!).  Once I lay down a creamy layer, I powder with my tried and true Coty Airspun Powder in Translucent – Extra Coverage and then build in some powder contour as well.  For this, I played around with the Kat Von D Shade and Light contour palette.  I loved the powder, it was super pigmented – perhaps a little too pigmented?  It was perfect for me for drag, but I’m wondering if it might be a little intense for everyday wear?  I suppose, you can always buff it out and blend it to the gawds!  I used Shadowplay and Subconscious the most, though I did get some occasional use of the lightest contour shade, Sombre, when I wanted a little extra blended transitiony goodness.  I wasn’t as impressed with the highlight shades – they tended to melt into the foundation more and I didn’t see them on my face as much as the deeper shades.  So it’s great in the shadows, but it still needs some work to do in terms of the light.  Overall, though, I was pretty impressed with the palette.

For blush, when I was doing the cream layer of contour, I also worked in some Tyra Beauty Cheek in a Stick into that layer to start building in some blushing shades.  Mostly I used the berry shade, Sexy Hot Flash, but a couple of times I mixed in the peachy-coral shade, Peaches for Eaches.  Sexy Hot Flash just made more sense with the look I was doing, but Peaches for Eaches is my favorite of the too and I love the beautiful lightness it brings to the face.  Once I was on to the powder layer, I decided to try out two of the new NYX Ombre Blushes, Strictly Chic (a peachy coral combo) and Sweet Spring (a baby pink that deepens into a rosier pink).  They have great pigmentation and I love both shades – but gurl, the fallout is REAL!  They start kicking up powder the minute you touch them with a brush and don’t stop until about ten minutes after!  They apply gorgeously though, and at $10 a pop, I can sort of forgive them for all of the wasted product.

Finally for the highlight, you know I had to bust out some Jeffree Star.  Most of the run I used Peach Goddess, but for the ending part of the run, I decided to just go balls out and use Ice Cold – icy white gold realness!


The eyes were the toughest part because I NEVER do nude/neutral eye looks.  I have 3 of the Naked palettes by Urban Decay sitting in my kit, just hanging out because as beautiful as they are, I never reach for them.  Sometimes I think I hear them crying in the night…

Well, for this show I decided to give Naked 3 a chance, an it really helped me create a great look.  I started with the lightest shade, Strange, and it was the perfect base shade, from lids to brows.  I packed that shit!  The problem is that it seems like the matte shades (or at least this matte shade) don’t have the same pigmentation as some of the other UD shadows I’ve used, and I hit pan on that bitch before the first week of the run was over.  I added in my UD Primer Potion in Original to help, but it still wasn’t having it.  I dig deep into my storehouse of palettes and pulled out a Sephora and Pantone Universe collab and used the shade Jet Stream – perfection!  I need to give those Sephora shadows another chance.  For the crease and the outer corner, I started at the inside with Limit and then darkened from the middle section to the outside with Nooner.  On the very outer corner, I used Darkside, the darkest matte in the palette, to lightly suggest a cat’s eye sort of look.  I also added medium lashes on the top and fairly thin lashes on the bottom – with a coat or two of mascara first, of course!  Too Faced Better Than Sex, Tyra Beauty Smack My Fat Lash, and Tyra’s BIG Lash System all made appearances throughout the run.  I wanted something that would be beautiful but subtle, so that when I was wearing the plain house dresses, it would just sort of be there – people would be too caught up by the dead rat wig on my head to notice!  That way when I come out after the makeover, I just look stunning and like my eyes have become these sculpted beauties as if by magic.

For the finale, I make the eye look even more drag-y and gorgeous.  Using a stiff angled brush, I use a black shadow (I’ve been using the black shade from the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette, Blackout) to trace the curve I created in the crease and wing it out into a very 60s curled wing.  Then I used that same brush to blend some of the black into the outer corner area and move inward, fading as I go.  To give it some color, and to coordinate with my light purple and cream gown (and btw, America, I really did make it myself!) I add in a couple of shades of purple shadow – a deeper one blended in with the black, and then a lighter shade over the lid.  My go to were my Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow shades I922 Electric Purple and I916 Frosted Mauve, though one night I decided to go a little nutty and used my SugarPill Heartbreaker palette shades 2AM and Mochi, which faded the purple into a nice mint blue-green situation.  What can I say, I was feeling wild that night!

Finally I lined my eyes and drew on my eyebrows with Urban Decay’s 24/7 pencil liner in Currupt.  Always.  Sorry, MAC’s liner in Chestnut, I’ve found a new love.  It’s not me…it’s you.


That quick change, y’all – the stress is real!  I have limited time to change dresses, switch out wigs, and step into some heels, and after all that I have about 15 second to completely transform my makeup look using ONE product – lipstick.  I knew that I wanted a liquid lipstick, one of the formulas that goes on smoothly and dries quickly so that I will end up with minimal lipstick on my teeth and won’t smear everywhere as I rush back onstage and start singing.  Challenge accepted!

The first lip look is very simple. I used the Tyra Beauty What Lipstick in Younger Man to give myself a simple, soft pink glow so that my lips would be visible, but wouldn’t necessarily look like I was wearing anything.  Natural, you dig?  It just looks like a lovely natural lip color, and to help dull the soft satin finish I patted on a little of my Coty Airspun powder – instant matte!

For the makeover lips, I went right to Jeffree Star’s Masochist.  That berry red is the perfect shade to coordinate with all of my costumes through the rest of the show – it gave a pinky contrast to the makeover dress and the red roses dress, and then helped brighten up the purple tones for the duet dress and the finale gown.  The formula for that shade is a little thicker which was perfect, and in the limited light I had inside the Mr. Pinky’s Heft Hideaway set piece, I was able to see exactly where I was applying it.  There was one night of the run I went a little crazy and decided to sub in the new Watermelon Soda…and it was a disaster! t hat formula is thinner and I ended up smearing it a bit as I was applying it.  It also was just too light for the look I wanted, and I ended up layering Masochist over it before the finale.  I had a winner – why couldn’t I just stick with it?!

It has been such a wonderful experience working with so many amazing people, and to bring this character to life in my own way.  If you saw the show, I hope you had a great time, and I hope you all enjoyed this little cosmetic journey on how I created Edna Turnblad’s fierce face!

Now Go Forth And Get Painted!

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