Ultimate Guide for makeup in kathak

Kathak Makeup

In the world of classical Indian dance, Kathak stands out for its grace, expressiveness, and intricate footwork. Beyond the captivating movements, makeup in Katahk plays a significant role in enhancing the performer’s expressions and ensuring visibility under stage lights. In this blog, we will discuss the art of makeup in Kathak, exploring its techniques, significance, and traditional elements that contribute to the mesmerizing allure of this timeless dance form.

The Importance of Makeup in Kathak

Makeup holds a crucial place in Kathak performances, serving both practical and aesthetic purposes. Under the bright stage lights, facial expressions are essential for conveying emotions and storytelling. Makeup helps accentuate these expressions, ensuring they are visible to the audience even from a distance. Additionally, it adds a touch of tradition and elegance, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the performance.

Basic Makeup Techniques for Kathak


how to apply foundation in kathak

Selecting the right foundation for Kathak makeup is essential to establish a flawless base that endures the entire performance. Here are various approaches to choose and apply foundation effectively:

  1. Choose Your Shade Carefully: Ensure to pick a foundation shade that harmonizes with your natural skin tone. Testing on your jawline or neck aids in determining a seamless blend.
  2. Mind the Formula: Opt for a matte foundation, renowned for its long-wearing properties that withstand the rigors of dance performances. Matte formulas excel in controlling shine and providing a smooth complexion.
  3. Prepare the Canvas: Begin with a clean canvas by cleansing your face. Apply a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to hydrate your skin without adding extra shine. Let the moisturizer absorb fully before applying foundation.
  4. Application Techniques: Use various tools such as a foundation brush, makeup sponge, or even your fingertips to apply the foundation. Begin from the center of your face and blend outward towards your hairline and jawline, focusing on areas needing more coverage.
  5. Gradual Layering: Instead of applying too much foundation at once, consider building coverage gradually. Layer thin coats of foundation to prevent a heavy, cakey appearance.
  6. Seamless Blending: Blend the foundation meticulously to achieve a flawless finish. Pay particular attention to areas around your hairline, jawline, and neck to avoid any noticeable demarcations.
  7. Optional Setting with Powder: To prolong wear and control shine, set your foundation with a light dusting of translucent setting powder. Concentrate on areas prone to oiliness, such as the T-zone.
  8. Be Prepared to Touch Up: Throughout the performance, anticipate the need to touch up your foundation, especially if you sweat or move vigorously. Keep a compact powder or blotting papers within reach for quick backstage touch-ups.

By following these steps and selecting the right foundation formula and shade for your skin type, you can achieve a flawless and long-lasting base for your Kathak makeup, allowing you to focus on your performance with confidence and poise.

Contouring and Highlighting

Creating dimension and definition under stage lights is achievable through the use of light contouring and highlighting techniques. Here’s a simplified version:

  1. Choosing the Right Products: Pick contour and highlight products that are slightly darker and lighter than your skin tone. Matte contours and shimmering highlights work best.
  2. Finding Contour Areas: Identify the spots on your face that you want to sculpt, such as the cheek hollows and jawline.
  3. Applying Contour: Use a contour brush to lightly apply the darker shade to these areas, gradually building up the color.
  4. Blending Contour: Blend the contour well with a brush or sponge for a natural look.
  5. Highlighting Areas: Determine where you want to add brightness, like the cheekbones and brow bones.
  6. Applying Highlight: Use a highlighter brush or your fingers to gently apply the lighter shade to these spots.
  7. Blending Highlight: Blend the highlighter seamlessly into your skin for a smooth finish.
  8. Optional Powder Setting: If needed, set your makeup with translucent powder to make it last longer.

Remember to touch up your makeup during the performance if necessary, especially in areas prone to sweating or movement. Keep your makeup essentials handy for quick fixes backstage.

By following these steps, you can effectively contour and highlight your features for Kathak makeup, adding depth and dimension to your look and ensuring your facial expressions shine brightly under the stage lights.

Eye Makeup

Eye Makeup in Kathak

Applying eye shadow and blush for Kathak makeup requires attention to detail and balance to enhance facial expressions and ensure visibility under stage lights. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


  1. Start by applying a neutral eyeshadow base across the eyelids to even out the skin tone and create a smooth canvas.
  2. Choose a medium-toned eyeshadow color, such as brown or bronze, and apply it to the crease of the eyelid using a blending brush. Blend gently to create depth and dimension.
  3. Next, apply a slightly darker shade of eyeshadow to the outer corner of the eyelid, blending it towards the center to create a gradient effect. This adds definition and drama to the eyes.
  4. For added intensity, you can apply a small amount of dark eyeshadow along the upper lash line, blending it softly for a subtle smoky effect.
  5. Finish by highlighting the brow bone and inner corner of the eyes with a light, shimmery eyeshadow to brighten and accentuate the eyes.


  1. Choose a blush shade that complements your skin tone and costume. For Kathak makeup, soft pinks or rosy tones are commonly used for a natural flush of color.
  2. Smile gently to locate the apples of your cheeks, then lightly sweep the blush onto the apples in a circular motion, blending upwards towards the temples.
  3. Be sure to blend the blush seamlessly into the skin to avoid harsh lines and create a natural, flushed look.
  4. If desired, you can also apply a small amount of blush to the bridge of the nose and chin for a cohesive, flushed appearance.

Remember to practice and adjust the intensity of eye shadow and blush according to your personal preference and the specific lighting conditions of your performance venue. With careful application and attention to detail, you can enhance your Kathak makeup to beautifully complement your performance and expressiveness on stage.

Eyeliner: Emphasize the eyes with dark eyeliner along the upper lash line, extending slightly at the outer corners for a dramatic effect. Use neutral eye-shadow shades to add depth and dimension to the eyes, and finish with mascara to define the lashes.

Kohl: Apply Kohl on your upper and lower waterline to define your eyes and create a dramatic look. You can also extend the kohl liner outwards to create a wing.

Eyebrows: Define the eyebrows using a brow pencil or powder, ensuring a natural shape that complements your facial features. You can use eyebrow pencil or eyebrow definer, completely on one choice.

Bindi: A small red Bindi ( decorative sticker) placed between the eyebrows is a traditional element of Kathak makeup, symbolizing auspiciousness and adding a touch of cultural authenticity to the look.

Lip Makeup

how to enhance lip in kathak makeup

When applying makeup for Kathak dance performances, the aim is to achieve lips that are both defined and natural-looking, complementing the overall aesthetic. Here’s a simplified guide:

  1. Prep the Lips: Begin by gently exfoliating your lips to remove any dry skin. Then, apply a moisturizing lip balm to hydrate and soften them.
  2. Select a Lip Color: Choose a lip shade that suits your skin tone and costume. Traditional options include reds, pinks, or neutral tones, preferably in a matte finish for durability.
  3. Outline the Lips: Use a lip liner pencil in a color similar to your chosen lipstick to outline your lips. Start by tracing along your natural lip line, and if desired, slightly overline for a fuller appearance. Blend the lip liner inward to avoid harsh edges.
  4. Fill in the Lips: Apply your chosen lipstick using a lip brush or directly from the bullet. Begin from the center of your lips and work outward for even coverage. Blot with a tissue and apply another layer for long-lasting color.
  5. Enhance the Cupid’s Bow: Use a small brush to highlight the cupid’s bow with a lighter shade of lipstick or a touch of highlighter. This step adds dimension and accentuates the lip shape.
  6. Blend and Set: Use a clean lip brush or your fingertip to blend any harsh lines for a seamless finish. If needed, tidy up the edges with concealer. Finally, set the lip color by lightly dusting translucent setting powder over the lips or using a setting spray for extra longevity.

By following these steps, you can achieve a polished and long-lasting lip makeup look that enhances your performance and completes your Kathak makeup ensemble.

Setting Spray

Finish the makeup application with a setting spray to lock the look in place and ensure longevity throughout the performance.

Alta a red due

Alta a Red dye in kathak

Alta holds great cultural and aesthetic significance in Kathak dance. Traditionally, Kathak dancers apply this red dye to their hands and feet to enhance the beauty of their movements and decorations. Alta not only adds vibrancy to the performance but also carries symbolic meaning, representing auspiciousness, tradition, and devotion. Its deep red color stands out against the intricate footwork and gestures of Kathak, drawing attention to the dancer’s expressions and movements. Moreover, alta helps accentuate the lines and shapes created by the dancer’s feet, enriching the visual storytelling aspect of Kathak performances. Beyond its visual appeal, alta serves as a link to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Kathak, honoring the art form’s origins and legacy. In essence, alta is integral to Kathak dance, contributing to its visual allure and cultural significance.

In Kathak dance, makeup serves as a powerful tool for enhancing expressions, storytelling, and visual appeal on stage. By mastering the art of makeup application, dancers can elevate their performances, captivating audiences with their grace, beauty, and emotive storytelling. As they adorn themselves with traditional makeup elements, dancers not only embody the spirit of Kathak but also pay homage to its rich cultural heritage. So next time you witness a Kathak performance, take a moment to appreciate the intricate artistry of makeup that enhances the magic of this timeless dance form.

About the Author: – Neha Khunteta

Neha Khunteta is a highly experienced Kathak dancer and trainer with over 15 years of experience. She is the founder of Kathak By Neha, one of the Best Kathak Dance Academies. With her profound expertise and experience, Neha has established herself as one of the foremost educators in Kathak.

If you are interested in learning more about Kathak dance or finding out about Neha’s upcoming workshops and classes, please visit her website or contact her through the details provided in the blog.

Should you require further assistance or insights, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us through the following channels: contact us on

Email: neha@kathakbyneha.in  or contact: +91-8619116616

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