This post came to me by way of a somewhat funny lead I received on a lead-generating service called Gigmasters: “Dress very sexy, and wear pretty makeup.”
This customer request made me chuckle. Telling a belly dancer to be glam is sort of like telling a lawyer to use complex legal jargon. For me, proper stage makeup is par for the course and part of the uniform. My clients don’t want a secretary; they want a glamorous entertainer who evokes opulent fantasies. If I am getting paid good money to show up and sparkle, I had better pull out all the stops.
But then, I had to wonder, had this client seen a show where the belly dancer was wearing inadequate makeup? After all, I have had to beg some of my colleagues to wear false eyelashes.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all hair and makeup plan that works for every gig. But we should all do a head-to-toe inspection before heading out the door, to make sure we’re ready to wow the crowd. Here are a few key points to watch out for:
Hair: Glam hair is shiny, neat and polished. Headbands, flowers, velcro-on gems and rhinestone clips are a beautiful touch. Want extra volume and humidity-defying curls without damaging heat tools? Fake hair can be your best friend. Experiment with wigs, 3/4 falls, clip-on bangs, extensions and faux ponytails. My clip-on ponytail has been a godsend for outdoor gigs on sweltering summer days!
Face: Create a long-lasting flawless finish by using primer, foundation and powder. A quick spritz of rosewater or MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Mist eliminates that caked-on look. Apply a blush generously to add a healthy glow, but avoid those harsh 80’s stripes. Bring powder or blotting papers with you to your gig to keep shine in check.
Eyebrows: An impeccably shaped brow will frame your entire face. Invest in regular waxing/threading sessions and pluck stray hairs at home. Pencil in your eyebrows for a polished, high-glam look.
Eyes: Your eyes are one of your most expressive features. So go bold or go home. Think rich, smoldering eyeshadows on the lid, a glossy white/beige highlight on the browbone, and artfully applied eyeliner to add drama. Glitter and AB crystals optional. Watch plenty of Haifa Wehbe music videos for inspiration.
Eyelashes: If you hate false eyelashes, I’m afraid we can’t be friends! Falsies aren’t just for drag queens and child beauty pageant contestants. They are, perhaps, the most essential component of your “game face” and therefore, something we must all learn to love. Avoid the dense, straight-across fringe-y ones and go for beautiful wispy shapes that wing out at the corners. This will shape and brighten up your eyes.
Lips: Whether you opt for an opulent burgundy, a racy red or some variation on the “glam nude,” make sure your lipstick is richly pigmented and compliments your costume color and the rest of your makeup. It is a fallacy that you have to wear dark lipstick to every gig – in intimate venues, a rich spice-colored lipliner and a peachy-nude lipgloss (like MAC Lipglass in Purr) can ooze sophistication.
Body: Shave, wax, or do whatever you’ve gotta do. Moisturize well. Get a Mystic Tan or use a self-tanner if you’d like a bit of color, but stay out of the tanning booths and away from the sun’s damaging UV rays (unless you’re willing to risk melanoma or premature aging). Cover any bruises or blemishes using a transfer-resistant concealer. And shimmer! For a subtle effect, I love Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Shimmer. For a disco ball effect, Lush’s Glitterbug rocks my world.
Hands and Feet: A mani/pedi is a must, whether you do it yourself or go to the salon. Chipped nail polish, or nail polish that clashes with your costume, won’t fly. Though dancing barefoot is traditional, I’ve been into footwear lately for safety reasons and to help me execute sharper, safer spins and turns. Ballroom shoes can add glamour to any costume and lengthen the leg line. For some awesome tips on picking out footwear, check out Shira’s comprehensive article on costuming your feet.
Jewelry: You spent a king’s ransom on your costume. And you’re wearing nothing more than your everyday stud earrings and a $5 necklace from Claire’s? It’s time to treat yourself to some nice rhinestone jewelry. Formalwear stores that specialize in bridal and prom dresses are a great place to start.
Conclusion: The wise Princess Farhana once said, “If you don’t look like a hooker, crossed with a clown, crossed with somebody who escaped from the state asylum, you’re not doing your stage makeup right.” Heed her sage advice. Of course, you will look and feel a little overdone, but when it’s time to take the stage, your audiences will think you look like a million bucks.