Pancaking Pointe Shoes

I originally thought my next entry would be about making a ballet bun, however, I just had to pancake some pointe shoes for a performance I am dancing in later this week, so change of plan!

Pancaked shoe versus a regular shiny shoe

Pancaked shoe versus a regular shiny shoe

Ok, so, pancaking pointe shoes (aka changing the color of the shoes and dulling the shine to either match your skin color or tights) is done for essentially two reasons…

  1. You are performing on pointe with bare legs (no tights).
  2. You are performing on pointe in a ballet where your director, teacher, etc. does not want the shoes to be shiny.

Why should you pancake the shoes when you wear them with bare legs? Well, first of all, the shiny ribbons against your skin really cut the lines of the legs and make them look a bit chopped up and shorter. Also, it can look a little strange to have a shiny shoe at the end of bare legs, so in general it just makes your lines look better from the audience and allows your foot to look like an extension of your leg. As for why you would pancake them even if you are wearing tights, this is usually just up to your director/teacher and the look that they prefer. Keep in mind, though, that when you pancake the shoes to match your tights, the goal is to try to match the color of the tights instead of your skin tone, so you might not need to pancake them quite as heavily.

***Side note: I have also chosen to pancake my pointe shoes when I have had an ankle injury but still had to perform on pointe. On stage, the shine of the satin draws the audiences eyes to your feet, so my rationale was if my shoes were more dulled it would be less obvious that one of my ankles was injured. I made this decision as a professional dancer, though, so if you are still a student you should absolutely consult with your teacher first before just doing this on your own!

All right, so to pancake the shoes you need the following items:

photo 1

  1. Pancake Make-Up in a shade close to your skin tone or tights– I have always used the brand Max Factor
  2. A make-up sponge
  3. Water

All you have to do is dip the make-up sponge in a small amount of water (I usually just put a bit in the lid of the make-up container as you can see in the photo), dip the wet sponge into the pancake make-up, and then spread it on the pointe shoe. Try not to get the sponge and the shoes *too* wet, though, because you run the risk of the wetness breaking down the boxes of the shoes a bit.

photo 2


I usually start with the box of the shoe and work my way towards the back where the heel is, but as long as you do the whole shoe eventually it doesn’t much matter where you start and stop.

photo 3

Don’t forget you have to do the ribbons and elastics, too!

photo 4

When you are done, I suggest putting the shoes somewhere where they can dry — I also try to find a spot where I can let the ribbons hang and air dry, as well. It shouldn’t take too long for them to dry, but I wouldn’t wear them for at least an hour afterwards just to be safe. As you dance in them, you might need to touch up areas now and then as the pancake wears off. Make sure you dump out any water you didn’t use out of the lid and let the make-up dry before resealing the container.


2 thoughts on “Pancaking Pointe Shoes

  1. Kristin says:

    Thanks, Caroline! Anna is dancing in Coppelia this weekend and has to pancake her pointe shoes. So happy I found your post. Very helpful! Hope to see you at a performance.

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