Harlequin Makeup

Harlequin clown makeup
A Compelling Harlequin Look

Harlequin makeup may be romantic, comedic or tragic, depending on which look you're after. It's a unique look for costume parties, but if you're in theater, you probably need to know how to apply your own makeup to transform yourself into this funny clown.

The Harlequin Clown

The harlequin clown, which started out as a jolly trickster, is sometimes seen as a sad little figure, not like the cheery, full-of-smiles circus clowns who do anything for a laugh. Your harlequin makeup look may depend on which type of harlequin you wish to portray.

Hallmarks of harlequin clown makeup include:

  • White face
  • Heart details
  • Triangular details, often upside-down and under the eyes
  • Red, Cupid's bow lips

In addition, the harlequin outfit is very colorful and full of whimsy. Bright diamond or triangular patterns often define this clown's outfit.

How to Apply Harlequin Makeup

Regular cosmetics probably won't be thick or long-lasting enough to produce a great harlequin makeup look, so look for stage makeup to create this funny face.


The traditional harlequin makeup look consists of a red and black face, not the white background so popular today. The original harlequin clowns used a mask, but you can easily recreate this look with makeup.

  1. Lightly outline your face with a pencil that matches your skin tone. Keep the line about 1-inch in from the outer edges of your face and work on creating a circular shape.
  2. Draw a line down the center of your face with the same pencil.
  3. Color in one side of your face with red stage paint, except for an upside-down triangle shape beneath the eye.
  4. Color the other side with black stage paint, leaving an upside-down triangle under the eye clear.
  5. On the red side of your face, color in the triangle black. Repeat this in red for the black half of your face.

This harlequin makeup will best complement a traditional red and black clown outfit.

Other Variations

Today's harlequin is more often portrayed with a white face. You can be creative when designing this look, but the two ideas below may give you a starting point if you want to create a more complex face.


  1. Color the entire face with white paint. This layer doesn't need to be especially heavy, but your skin shouldn't peek through.
  2. With a thin pencil, draw a rounded arch above both eyebrows.
  3. Draw a tear shape in black under the outer corner of one eye. Highlight with a dab of white to add depth.
  4. Color in two red circles on the center of cheeks. Draw the circle in first with a pencil to make sure it's perfectly round.
  5. In the center of your lips, draw a Cupid's bow shape. Don't extend the pencil to the outer corners of your mouth; your entire mouth won't be painted.
  6. Color in the bow shape with red lipstick or paint.

Moderately Complex

  1. As above, begin with a white background.
  2. Draw a line in black across your brow from temple to temple.
  3. Draw a line parallel to the first line across the middle of the nose, from one ear to the other.
  4. Between the two lines, color in diamond patterns. The easiest way to do this is to draw diagonal lines first in one direction and then criss-cross them in the other direction.
  5. Color in the diamonds in alternating colors of black and white, or use many harlequin colors, such as deep purple, gold, blue, green and red.
  6. Outline the mouth in red. At the corners of the lips, curve the line down slightly.
  7. Color the lips red.

Being a Clown

Once you perfect your harlequin makeup technique, complete the look with the right outfit. This clown ensemble may be red and black, or it may be full of colors. A pointed hat will finish off the look well. Now you're ready to be Harlequin, that clever and funny jokester who loved nothing more than a good laugh.

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