When the lights go up, and the curtain lifts, Abigail Boyle takes centre stage with full makeup, slicked hair and tutu as a dancer in the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Yet despite the stress of constantly applying and removing makeup — not to mention the dancing in between — her skin positively glows.
The dancer, who’s been with the company for nine years now, has off-duty chic down pat.
“Day to day when we’re in the studio [rehearsing], I don’t really wear a lot of makeup because I’d sweat it all off, but that’s a completely different story to when we’re in the theatre and you cake it on,” she says. “It gets a bit hard when there’s two shows a day — you put it all on, then take it all off, then put it all on again, take it all off.”
Abigail finds makeup wipes — whatever’s on special at the supermarket — the easiest way to remove it all after her hours spent on stage.
“I would love to get facials and things like that, but I don’t have the money or the time. If I do have extra money, I usually get my corns done! I go to a podiatrist more than I go to a [beauty therapist],” she laughs.
She realises she’s lucky to have imperfection-free skin, attributing it to using quality moisturisers, like Lancôme and Estée Lauder, which her mum has introduced her to, along with L’Oréal Youth Code BB Cream, her go-to for daily coverage.
“It’s slightly heavier than a tinted moisturiser. That’s all I wear — I don’t usually put foundation on unless I’m on stage.”
She adds Lancôme Teint Miracle to disguise under-eye circles, plus MAC Iridescent Powder in Silver Dusk to highlight cheekbones, brow bones and the cupid’s bow. Pinks, purples and oranges are her favourite colours — including Revlon Photoready Brightener and Eyeliner in Purple Reign — along with a sweep of Napoleon Cheek to Chic Duo blush.
Abigail pulls out a collection of well-loved Estée Lauder and Lancôme eyeshadows, in a myriad of dark, berry, sparkling and natural shades, which she switches between, on stage and off.
And despite her relaxed attitude towards beauty, she’s something of a pro when it comes to stage makeup.
“We do it ourselves,” she reveals. “You tend to learn in [ballet] school how to do makeup for stage, then you learn and you grow and you find different things. It’s all about creating more features and making your eyes bigger.
“You put white on the lid and then contour with the dark [shade] on the inside. Then you lengthen the eyeliner a little bit longer, and on the bottom [lid], so it gives your eyes a definite edge. Always wear lipstick, red lipstick — you can’t go on stage without it.”
Revlon is her favourite foundation for stage — it “stays on, despite sweat” — teamed with “tonnes” of hairspray, and a spritz of Lancôme perfume, either Miracle or Hypnôse.
Hair is the real challenge for this ballerina. Abigail recalls one season when female dancers were required to wear fishtail braids, which she had “no hope” of mastering. Luckily, a couple of girls in the company were able to run around the dressing room styling every dancer’s hair.
The real makeup fun, Abigail says, is in creating an older character — which calls for creative kohl wrinkles — or a role like a fairy, which calls for a generous sprinkle of glitter.
“I did the ugly step-sister in Cinderella, and that was a free-for-all — we could be as ugly as we wanted. Just dramatic: what you would picture a five-year-old doing, makeup wise!”
*Abigail Boyle performs in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro, at the St James Theatre, 15–17 August.