How to do Traditional Clown Makeup

Looking for a tutorial on how to do traditional clown makeup? You've come to the right place! Learn how to do traditional clown makeup: Whiteface clown, Auguste clown, and Tramp/Hobo clown. 

A clown's makeup is his or her trademark. A clown may experiment a long time to develop one’s own character but never copies another clown's face. There are many different types of clown characters and clown makeup looks. You can decide to be a happy clown, a scary clown, a neutral clown, a sad clown, and the list goes on and on. 

But whichever type of clown you decide to be, it all comes down to one thing: what type of clown are YOU? The clown makeup you decide on will ultimately define you as a clown. So when deciding on this, think about the things you like:

  1. Colors: If you love bright, stand-out colors, incorporate that into your clown makeup. Are you a fan of pink, for example? Show that off by adding lots of different shades of pink makeup to your look.
  2. Faces: There are many different types of clown faces you can recreate. You can be a silly clown, a happy clown, a frowny clown, and so on. The type of face you have on will also define the type of clown you will be.
  3. Accessories: Accessorize your persona with different clown accessories. Will your clown wear a hat, gloves, a giant tie, or glasses? And also, what type of wig will your clown wear? All of these things can be added to make your clown stand out even more!

Ultimately, it comes down to what type of clown makes you smile! When you look in the mirror, be sure that you are satisfied with what you are seeing. 

The Three Main Types of Clown Faces

There are three main types of clown faces:

#1. Whiteface Clown


Whiteface - The traditional neat Whiteface clown has features designed in red, blue or black. The neat Whiteface will have a normal size mouth, painted nose and eyebrows. If the Whiteface is designed with large eyebrows, mouth and a false nose, they are known as a grotesque Whiteface. A Whiteface clown may use glitter and/or dry rouge to accent facial features.
  1. To copy the Whiteface clown look, you'll need plenty of white face paint to cover the entire face. Paint your entire face and neck, including eyebrows using white face paint.
  2. Next, you'll need a big shiny nose.
  3. Use red face paint to create the exaggerated mouth and dab onto the cheeks for a flushed look.
  4. Lastly, use a black eyeliner to create high eyebrows.

#2. Auguste The Clown

Auguste - The Auguste clown has friendly, exaggerated features on a pink, ruddy or flesh-tone base. White makeup is applied around the eyes and mouth in the muzzle area, surrounding a red or black mouth and the Auguste clown sports a bigger-than-life false nose. 
  1. To copy the Auguste the clown look, you'll first need to cover the entire face and neck with a light red or pink face paint
  2. Next, apply white face paint around the eyes and mouth, as per the picture above. 
  3. Apply a red face paint to the cheeks.
  4. Use a black eyeliner to draw on the high and exaggerated eyebrows.
  5. Draw a mouth into the white area using a color of your choice.
  6. Lastly, top off the look with a big, red, shiny nose!

#3. The Tramp Clown

Tramp - The Tramp has white eyes and white mouth surrounded by a black or gray "beard" with a flesh-tone base. The Tramp clown’s false nose is either red or flesh-tone. The features may be sad or portray a happy-go-lucky good-natured character look.
  1. For a more natural-looking clown face, copy this Tramp clown look!
  2. Start off by painting the eye and mouth are using white face paint
  3. Next, paint around the mouth using a brown face paint. This will give the illusion of a beard or facial hair. 
  4. Use a red face paint to paint the nose and the cheeks. This is not a super exaggerated clown look, so only add a little at a time. 
  5. Finally, use a black eyeliner to draw the arched eyebrows and your look is finished!

Brand Names vs. Generic

We don't recommend using "generic" or water-based makeup, the sort usually sold around Halloween, as it is not meant for your face for long periods of time. Make sure it is a quality, professional brand, such as:

Although higher quality, professional clown makeup may be more expensive than generic ones, it is worth it in the end. This is because lesser quality paints won't last as long on the face and in the pan. The better the quality, the brighter the colors, the longer the staying power, and the cleaner the look. Not to mention that a lot of generic paints are loaded with harsh ingredients that can actually irritated the skin.

Foundation and Liners

Base or Foundation - Various colors found in tubs or sticks, usually white, clown flesh (varying from pink to orange or ruddy tones), black, and red. Can be applied using fingers, sponge or compressed puff.
Most clowns will first use a base, or a primer, before applying any other makeup at all. Think of your skin as a wall: before you go and paint that wall, you will apply a primer. This will ensure that the skin is smooth and ready for makeup application. 
After the primer, you can use a skin tone foundation, or apply the face paints directly. This is completely up to you and it all depends on the type of clown makeup you are going for. For Tramp, for example, we recommend using a foundation, as it's a more neutral clown makeup. For Auguste and Whiteface though, foundation is not necessary. 
The best way to find out what works for you, is just to try the different methods. You may want to use a foundation, or you may not. For those with oily skin, we recommend a primer first, to help the makeup stay on longer and glide on smoother.
Although you CAN use your fingers to apply the makeup, we recommend using a good quality high density sponge. This will make for a more even application, ensuring that each nook and cranny is filled in. 
So now that you know the basics about clown makeup, it's time to stock up on some clown supplies and clown around!

How to Remove Clown Makeup:

It's important to remove your clown makeup after every gig. It's not a good idea to go to sleep with makeup still on because it could irritate or stain the skin or rub off on pillows and sheets. Good grease makeup removal can help keep skin healthy and clear.

Different clowns recommend different methods of removing makeup, but the basic method is the same. The first thing you need is some kind of agent that will help you to simply wipe away the face paint. You might not need to buy anything special for this; it's likely that you can find what you need in your own cabinets. In fact, it might be in your cooking cabinets!

Some choices to remove grease clown makeup include:

Baby oil - Because it is oil, it attaches to the face paint, and because it is designed for babies, it is not harsh for the skin.

Makeup remover - The removers that women use on their everyday makeup are usually successful with face paint, too. Plus, they're formulated for facial skin so usually won't irritate that skin, even on children.

Cold cream - This is designed to be gentle on skin while removing makeup including face paint.

Olive oil - Use only for hard-to-remove colors, such as red. Just warm a little bit in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, rub in and let soak a few moments before wiping off.

The second step toward removing a clown makeup is to wash your face. Use a product that is gentle on the skin but clears away the remaining oil and grease makeup so that it doesn't clog your pores. Remember the inside of your ears and back of your neck!

Some cleanser suggestions:

Face soap - Whatever daily face cleanser you use.

Body soap - This will usually get the face quite clean, but be aware that it can also dry out the skin. It's a good idea to follow it up with a moisturizer for sensitive skin.

Baby shampoo - Since most babies don't have a lot of hair, baby shampoo is designed to be gentle on skin, while still getting the baby clean. It can do the same for kids' faces.

Baby wipes - Instead of soap and water, just take a few of these and wipe the child's face off. These use both soap and moisturizer, and will cleanse and remove all traces of makeup and oil while still being gentle on a child's skin. These are especially convenient if you're not taking the child right home, but perhaps going out to dinner or a movie.
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1 comment

Thanks I’ve needed this helpful tips for me clowning many years struggling with how I could add makeup! Thanks bunches aka Catfish the Clown!

debra jackson

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