The general take-home message for how to apply dance makeup is: go bold or go home! I always feel like an idiot when I leave the ballroom and go someplace “normal” during a competition weekend. In ballroom, if you look kind of like a drag queen, it means you’re doing something right. We’re talking crazy bright colors, big fake eyelashes, shimmer, glitter, the whole shebang. What is the point, anyway? Well, if you think of ballroom dancing as being similar to performing on a stage, you want to be able to see your features clearly from across the floor. This means, highlighting your eyes (make ‘em look as big as humanly possible), accenting your mouth with a colorful lipstick, and rouging your cheeks. I won’t be able to explain makeup application as well as the Youtube makeup guru gals, so I’ll just go over things briefly and you can spend a few hours watching videos and filling in the rest.
Foundation: I hate it. But I wear it for ballroom comps, using a sliiiiightly darker color than my natural skintone so that I don’t look washed out. In fact, I probably go lighter than most girls in terms of coverage – I like to mix a tinted moisturizer with a darker foundation, then apply it with either a makeup sponge or a dual-fiber brush for a stippled effect. Blend blend blend, making sure you don’t have that foundation line that ends at your chin (trust me, not a good look). Bring your foundation down to your neck. Concealer under the eyes and over any flaws, more blending, then set everything with a matching powder and a big fluffy brush. If you’re particularly oily, you might want to stick with a powder foundation, so long as it has adequate coverage. Or a liquid/cream that is supposed to have a matte finish. Also, applying a primer before foundation is an option – I’ve tried it a couple times, but don’t see a huge difference though, personally. If you feel comfortable contouring (which, of course, is all the rage right now), then go ahead and do that with darker and lighter cream colors.
First, Urban Decay Primer Potion or your primer of choice (I’ve heard Too Faced is another good one). In lieu of primer, use concealer and powder over your lids. Primer makes your eyeshadow pop and keeps it from fading or moving throughout the day, which is super important especially if you sweat a lot. You can also use a cream eyeshadow as a second base, particularly a white one if you are using bright colors – this will keep the color bright. Lots of white pearly highlight below the browbone (really pack it on), then I usually do a smoky eye in either a neutral color combination (gold/brown, or silver/black) or purple, depending on my mood. Neutral is a little harder to make dramatic, so really pack on the colors and shimmer, and be sure to use a dark color in the crease, like a dark brown or black. Use a heavier hand than you’re used to – this is even beyond nighttime “going out” makeup. Then I add a thick line of cream, gel, or liquid eyeliner in black, in a cat-eye shape with a flick/wing in the outside corner. Doing this with a pencil first might help for precision. Also, I just discovered that going over this with a really dark black powder eyeshadow makes it even more dramatic. Add lower-lid color and/or liner if you want. You can really go crazy with eye makeup here in ways you can’t in everyday life, so take advantage of it!
Curl lashes, add some mascara, then plop on some fake eyelashes. The biggest Ardell-brand ones at CVS are great along with Duo glue in white (it dries clear), and I can re-use them a bunch of times, so long as I peel off the gunky glue off of the lash strip. (P.S. Peeling off my fake lashes at the end of the day is SUCH a good feeling!!) Fake lashes are really pretty essential to making my smaller Asian eyes pop. If you’re blessed with huge natural lashes you might be able to go without, but otherwise, I strongly recommend them. They just add a ton of drama and open your eye up, which especially helps with a more neutral, subdued eyeshadow look. Please do practice putting them on ahead of time, because there’s a learning curve with using them.
Other options: glitter eyeliner or glitter eyeshadow, fake eyelashes with little rhinestones at the base, multiple liner colors, slightly wacky color combinations (cause, why not? So long as they’re somewhat tasteful). Ballroom is one place where matching your eyeshadow to your dress is not a faux pas, but actually commonplace. One thing that really helps with intensifying color is applying eyeshadow wet and packing it on with sort of tapping motions instead of brushing or sweeping across the lid.
Edited to add: fill in your eyebrows! I recently started doing this and I think it makes a really big difference. It’ll look a bit intense up close, but really adds to the polished made-up look.
Awesome purple eye:
How to apply false eyelashes:
Cheeks: Any bright powder or cream blush should do, so long that it works with your skin tone. For extra contouring, use bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks and a highlighting powder on top of your cheekbones and forehead. I haven’t really gotten the hang of contouring yet, but if you want to try it, check these videos/guides out:
Lips: This is the easiest part. Line your lips with a neutral liner (one that is close to your natural lip color), then fill in with a shade of your choice. I like to do a pink berry-ish color for standard/smooth, and a Snow White true red for Latin/rhythm. One is softer, and the other is more bold/in-your-face. Lipliner can help define your lips and keep bright colors from spreading beyond your lipline. Personally, lipstick is all I need, but some people might like to add a lipgloss for extra shine (but don’t do this if your hair is loose, because it will stick to your lips and drive you nuts). You might want to blot so that it’s less likely to smudge or get on your teeth. Some girls like to do a dark liner with a lighter lipstick, but I’m not a fan of this, personally. I don’t recommend using a nude color, so we’re going to break the normal emphasize-eyes-or-mouth-but-not-both rule. Your mouth will just disappear from a distance, and it’s probably the most expressive part of your face.
For products, you can get by perfectly fine with drugstore products, so long as they are sufficiently pigmented. A light, sheer, natural look is not what we’re going for. I recommend NYX, L’Oreal, and Revlon, which are all available at drugstores and/or Ulta. I’ve also heard great things about Morphe and Makeup Geek eyeshadows, which you can order online. Maybelline makes awesome mascaras. If your skin is finicky, you might want to go for nicer higher-end foundations. Ulta and Sephora will have basically anything you could ever want/need.
Nails: Nice nails are a bonus, but not a necessity. The classic ballroom look is a French manicure on long nails. But, colors are fun too! A classic red or a subtle pink are both great, or maybe something that goes well with your costumes. Some girls like having those long acrylic nails, but those are a little intense for me. I started growing my nails out for ballroom, but short nails are perfectly okay, too. The key here is good grooming. I’ve recently ventured into glue-ones and love using them! They’re so much faster than painting your nails with polish, and look perfect. They’ll make doing everyday things a bit harder, though, so keep that in mind. Also, file off the rough edges to avoid scratching your partner or snagging them on things. The point of long nails is to extend your lines and complete the whole done-up look.
Do you need to do different makeup for different dance styles? Well, no, not really, but there is a general trend for Latin/rhythm makeup to be stronger and standard/smooth makeup to be softer. A lot of people like this sort of “exotic” look for Latin/rhythm, whatever that means. A bit heavier on the liner, a darker lipstick, maybe extra black eyeshadow in the crease. You might also want to add some more bronzer as well.
A few good full-ballroom-makeup videos:
Products I Recommend:
- Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner
L’Oreal HIP Cream LinerDiscontinued…but it looks like L’Oreal Infallible Lacquer Liner is its replacement?
- Urban Decay liners
- Maybelline Full ‘n’ Soft Mascara and Lash Sensational Mascara
- L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara
- Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler (it’s seriously the best, at least for my eye shape)
- Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick
- NYX powder eyeshadows and Jumbo Eye Pencils (especially the shade Milk)
- Urban Decay eyeshadows (especially the Naked palettes)
- L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadows
- Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadows as a base
- Urban Decay Primer Potion
- Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner
- NYX Brow Gel
- NYX powder blushes (normal and mosaic)
- NARS powder blush in Orgasm (classic)
- Urbam Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
- Kiss Everlasting French glue-on nails
- Essie and Revlon nail polishes
- Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
- Ardell false eyelashes
- Duo lash glue