Giving good face: July’s makeup challenge
What is the one thing that every belly dancer needs regardless of size, shape, style or age? Makeup! Bright red lips, sexy dark eyes with cat-like eyeliner and gigantic fluttery eyelashes are all parts of the standard belly dancer look. Nearly every woman I know has a makeup kit that has been tailored over time for her specific needs, and her most common life situations. But going from office or party makeup to a full scale belly dance look takes just a few more products, a couple of techniques, and lots of practice.
Over the past year, I’ve been receiving more and more complements on my makeup application and the variety of looks I’ve been trying out. I began a quest to really “get good” at makeup about 6 years ago, when I was nursing an injury, but wanted to continue my dance journey. So I started taking classes with some of my local makeup experts. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley only 35 miles south of San Francisco, CA. I had a wealth of talented professional makeup artists, dancers with amazing skills, and tons of shops and stores with every makeup counter imaginable ready to consult.
What I learned is that in order to get really really good at applying makeup you have to practice. Practice a LOT. And so I began to randomly put on a gig face when I was hanging out at home. Before washing my face at night, I practiced my eyeliner until I could really draw on an expert line.
So during the month of July, 2016, I was challenged to do a daily makeup look and make a video explaining the products, tools, and techniques that I use. I was also challenged to do this with affordable makeup from the drugstore and specialty companies on the internet. My goal is to show how a amateur makeup artist (me) could take standard cosmetics and make a belly dance face. My secondary goal is to show that women over the age of 40 and over a size 18 can look beautiful in the bright eyeshadow and heavy eyeliner standard to the belly dancer look.
Here are the top tips for improving your belly dance face in just one month.
1. Get a great brilliant red lipstick: Every dancer should have a bright and bold red lipstick. From Sara Shrapnell, I learned a great technique for layering products to ensure longevity. In chapter 3 of our upcoming book, Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage, she discusses her three part layering technique. First she puts on a lip stain, that will provide a long wearing base color. On top of this, she layers a vivid red lip liner, slightly over drawing the lips at the center top and bottom. Then she tops this with her final lipstick. She likes Mac lipsticks like Ruby Woo and Russian Red.
2. Try color, lots of color: Students of dance, or folks new to makeup, should consider picking up a large eye shadow palette full of a variety of colors to try. While it might be scary to paint your eyes neon yellow, shocking pink, or lime green, having a large palette with all those colors and more will give you creative license to experiment and play with challenging colors. In my class with local dancer Firefly, she recommended picking up an affordable bright color pallet from a company like Shany, BH Cosmetics, Coastal Scents or Morphe.
3. Master the art of the eyeliner: Since the times of the pharaohs, black eyeliner has been essential for the eyes of a dancer. In our modern day and age, there are many styles of eyeliner to choose from. I personally like to layer them on, using a combination of a marker-like pen, khol pencil, and long wearing gel. I wrote an article about this history of eyeliner and it’s over on Gilded Serpent magazine if you want to find out more here.
4. Wear a highly pigmented base: Under the spotlights, our skin will show through lightweight, low coverage makeup. Look for full coverage makeup that has good pigmentation and looks great on your skin. Years ago, makeup artist and professional dancer Maleah of San Diego taught me to use a two-step application of foundation. After you have applied your liquid or cream base to your face, use a powder in a roll-pressing motion to really set the foundation. It will withstand the heat and sweat of a performance if you take the time to really set the products.
5. Don’t skip the false lashes: Pro dancer Poppy Maya was my sherpa into the realm of the false eyelash. She explained the arcane rituals of preparation and application. False eyelashes will make your eyes look bigger. Winks, blinks and other expressions will telegraph further into your audience if you have false eyelashes on. They also look great in photos.
6. Check out your finished look from a distance: There’s a great dancer here in the greater Bay Area, Adriana, who’s also a makeup artist and Mary Kay dealer. Her makeup is always flawless, and one of her tricks is to check her look in a mirror, but from a distance, to see how your makeup “reads” from afar. And she always powders before she takes the stage, for the most refined and perfected complexion. Now I do too!
Of course, the best way to get really good at your belly dance look is to practice it every day. Perfect your blending technique and master a fierce wing through the act of putting it on over and over. The “cosmetic dress rehearsal” where you put on the full look might take too much time out of your day, but experimenting with one process, like applying lashes, or lining your lips repeatedly for a month will take your makeup game to the next level.
If you want to see me going through the challenge of putting on makeup everyday, visit my YouTube channel and check out the videos. At the time of this writing, I’m halfway done with a #31daybellydancemakeup vlogging challenge and I’ve also added a themed 10 day Instagram Challenge entitled #everdayisgigday.