Clown Makeup 101

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze! will be here before we know it bringing with it incredible performers, beautiful animals and of course, hilarious clowns!

The talented clowns you see at The Greatest Show On Earth® are mirth-makers who specialize in the fine arts of mime and pantomime, slaps and falls, comedy acrobatics, juggling and equilibristic specialties, stilt walking, character development, clown makeup design, clown gags, buffoonery bits and arena choreography. Each clown has a unique and personal character, costume and makeup design.

Designing the perfect clown face is an art but you don’t have to attend clown school to learn how to create your own personal clown face! Check out our step-by-step instructions for flawless clown makeup.

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

You will need:

  • Clown white, black and red grease paint (stick, tube or jar).
  • Eyeliner pencil.
  • Small paintbrush for each color.
  • Powder.
  • Ordinary powder puff or a white sock filled with white baby powder and tied in a knot.
  • Dusting brush, cosmetic makeup brush, shaving brush or any other soft brush.
  • Important! For your clown face, never, NEVER use house paints, enamels, lacquers, dye colors, shoe polish or artists’ oil and watercolor paints. All are harmful to the skin. Use ONLY theatrical grease paints.

Step 2: Choose your face.

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
All circus clown faces come from three basic types:

  • Whiteface-The classic Pierrot harlequin clown face.
  • Auguste-The most comic clown face.
  • Character- A comic slant on the ordinary human face.

Step 3: Pull your hair back.

To keep grease paint out of your hair, tie on a forehead band or wear a cap, beanie, crown of an old felt hat or shower cap.

Step 4: Finger paint on clown white.

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Using your fingers, spread clown white all over your face and neck, both front and back. Don’t be afraid to lay it on, but don’t get it too thick. Keep your eyes closed as you paint around them. Smooth out the paint by patting it with your fingers.

Step 5: Bring on the powder.

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
Now, with dry fingers or cleansing tissue, wipe paint off of places that you want to be red or black. Then, carefully powder your face. Be sure to close your eyes while powdering. Brush off excess powder.

Step 6: Paint in the details.

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
You are now ready for red and black (nose, mouth and eyebrows). Use either your finger, small paintbrush or eyebrow pencil. For brushing, you may have to soften the stick paint with a bit of vegetable oil. Powder again after each color is on.

Step 7: Find your wig.

Clown Makeup 101 - Photo from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
When your face is done, put on a wig, which you can make from bright-colored knitting yarn or a cotton string floor mop, dyed red.

When you’re finished clowning around, remove makeup with baby shampoo, cold cream or makeup remover wipes.

Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.

1 Comment

  1. A Day in the Life of a Ringling Clown · August 11, 2014

    […] I always like to leave some extra time in case I make a mistake or forget to put on part of my makeup and have to go back and redo […]

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