How-To: Cage Makeup for Burning Man

Craft & Design

Heading out to the playa for Burning Man means releasing yourself from the burdens of reality and celebrating the creativity that lies dormant inside. Makeup is a transformative tool that will morph you into a fantasy.
My friend Freddy Lopez is an unbelievably talented makeup artist, and he shows us how to create one of his signature looks, a striking and dramatic Pierced Cage Mask. Black Rock City is filled with color, so Freddy was inspired to add orange, turquoise blue, and hot pink body paint. Then he used materials from the craft store to make a surreal mask that casts amazing shadows and is truly out-of-this-world.
For a PDF of this tutorial, visit the build page on Make: Projects.



Brushes, fluffy and flat
Paintpot, a base product for holding color and shadow
Eyebrow pencil
Body paint
False Lashes
Cosmetic glue
Makeup sponge
Lip pencil
Velveteen ribbon


Step 1: Set out all of your tools and makeup and prepare your skin. Keeping your skin healthy on the playa is crucial, and it’s especially important when applying makeup in harsh conditions. Cover your whole face with your favorite moisturizer.
Step 2: This look begins by turning your face into a blank canvas. That means making your eyebrows disappear! This step is all about alternating layers of paintpot with layers of powder. Use a flat brush to apply the paintpot product to your brows, then a fluffy brush to apply powder. Alternate paintpot and powder until you have applied 3 layers of both and the hairs are completely covered. Then, apply foundation over them, to return them to your own skin color.
Step 3: With the brows gone, it’s time to re-draw them, dramatically! Hold the eyebrow pencil against your nose, and without drawing, use it to plot the path of the new arch. Make a tiny dot at the inside of your eye, at the top of the eye, and at the outside of the eye. Then, connect the dots into a swooping new eyebrow. Keep the shape simple- about 1/4″ wide at the inside of the eye, tapering off at the outside of the eye. Fill in the brow, and repeat with your other eye.
Step 4: Now it’s time for color! Use a medium gauge fluffy brush, and add white body paint underneath the brows. Start with white to make the brow look even more lifted and exaggerate the arching shape. Paint the white on, then use a stippling technique to create even coverage- just gently dab the tips of the bristles against your face.
Step 5: Add orange body paint beneath the white, and use the stippling technique to blend the colors together. Draw the orange out past the corners of your eyes, a bit further than you took the white. Bring the orange down to the top of your eyelid.
Step 6: Deepen the intensity of the look by adding black eyeshadow into the crease of your eye. Filling in the crease with black adds dimension.
Step 7: Cover your eyelids with a layer of paintpot, then add turquoise. By applying the paintpot first, you give the blue a chance to really pop.
Step 8: Create a cat eye over the blue, with black eyeliner. You can use the type that brushes on, a liquid liner, or a pencil. Bring the line on the upper lid out and up. Add a thick coat of mascara. Then line the inside of your lower lid, also called the waterline as well.
Step 9: The final step for adding color to your eyes is to apply a thin line of turquoise shadow to the lower eyelid.
Step 10: Add a bead of the cosmetic glue to the inside of the false lashes. The glue dries clear, so while you don’t want to make a goopy mess, you can be generous with the amount of glue. Press the false lashes right against your own, and avoid blinking while they dry.
Step 11: While the lashes set, you can add blush.
Step 12: Use a sponge, or one of your brushes to add hot pink body paint along your hair line and down onto your forehead. Fade the pink out as you bring it down onto your forehead.
Step 13: Time to do your lips! With such colorful eye makeup, keep the lip relatively mild. Use yellow paint and a neutral pencil to color your lips.
Step 14: Glue the rivets onto your face. Place two over each eyebrow, and one right above your nose. Add three underneath each eye, and one on either side of your nostrils, about halfway up your nose. Use the cosmetic glue, and give the rivets a few moments to dry.
Step 15: Cut lengths of the velvet ribbon that are long enough to run from the upper rivets to the lower rivets. Dab both ends of the cut ribbon into the cosmetic glue, then press them into the rivets. The glue dries quickly, but work slowly, holding each ribbon in place for about 30 seconds to set them. Create a basket weave with the ribbons, working from the outside of your eye in, towards your nose. Once the glue is dry, the ribbons will be surprisingly sturdy, but until then, they are very fragile. Hold your face as still as possible until all the ribbons are completely set.

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