As a professional dancer, you’ll almost always be expected to do your own makeup and it’s important to make sure you’re always polished, whether it’s for shows or auditions. For better or for worse, your image matters and being able to do a good job with makeup should be a priority for dancers who hope to be successful in this field. It’s all in the details, people!
So, I decided to speak with a some of my makeup artist friends (who are also performers) to share some makeup tips and their favorite products.
APRIL MICHELLE JACQUEZ
April has a long resume as a dancer in the commercial scene and as a makeup extraordinaire. She’s performed as an NBA Magic Dancer and worked as a top choreographer for the NBA organization, was part of The Knockouts created by Glenn Douglas Packard, and has experience as an artist at MAC Cosmetics. Unfortunately, she’s had to retire from dancing due to an injury but is now able to focus on her makeup artistry and styling business full time. To hire April for a beautifully beat face or to style you for any occasion, email CrossBreedBookings@gmail.com.
Fun fact: April and her husband, Nova are the masterminds behind most of the photos you'll see throughout my website. April did the hair and makeup while Nova worked the camera. What I'm trying to say is -- if you're in the Central Florida area, you should book them.
Tom Widdowson was a singer on my last Adventure of the Seas contract and now performs as a professional drag artist known as Rebecca Mae. While I worked with him, he would be constantly working on his makeup artistry, taking courses and practicing on any face he could find to polish his skills. Tom plans to start his own business as a makeup artist in the spring for everything from weddings to date night. For now, he’s created a fabulously successful drag brunch in the Erie, PA area that keeps him busy. If you're in town, don't miss Rebecca Mae's Drag Brunch!
Where did you learn to do makeup?
APRIL: Originally, being a dancer taught me how to do my own makeup. Growing up as a performer, it was a MUST to know how to do your own face. As I realized how much I loved it, I was later hired with MAC and worked for them over five years before branching off to own and run my own company.
TOM: I learned a lot from hands on experience with friends in the field and watching certain makeup tutorials online of specific things I wanted to learn… especially blocking out eyebrows and doing drag makeup. One of the best ones I learned from and that basically started the foundation for Rebecca Mae is a tutorial from Manilla Luzon (contestant from RuPaul’s Drag Race).
Do you do more stage makeup or a natural look?
APRIL: I am requested to do both, but I naturally LOVE doing more dramatic, stage-like makeup. I love HIGH GLAM!!!
TOM: Well since my personal makeup is done for stage as a boy and also on stage for my drag , I definitely do more stage makeup. I will start doing more natural looks once my wedding makeup business is open!
What products do you splurge on and what can you save on?
APRIL: The secret to being a GREAT makeup artist is not always needing expensive product. Most all products that I use are drugstore finds! I am obsessed with NYX, Maybelline, L’Oreal, and Elf. If there is ONE product that I will always spend money on, it’s MAC’s Matte Lipstick- RUBY WOO! My all-time favorite lip.
TOM: This is super tough for me because I’m a makeup snob BUT, I have started switching out some of my makeup to low end brands such as Elf. I swapped out my expensive black liquid liners and setting sprays with Elf. Saved me some money for sure and they work just as good! Another cheaper solution that I like a lot is Sephora brand products.
What are the must-have products for dancers and performers to wear on stage?
APRIL: As a dancer, there a couple of MUST-HAVES!
TOM: It doesn’t matter what kind of makeup you use if you don’t set it properly. So, I would say a must-have is a good setting spray. I believe everyone’s face take products differently so I would shop around for the one that fits you best. Some of my top setting sprays include Elf, Urban Decay, and NYX. I also think a good, huge pair of eyelashes is another essential for the girls. Sometimes when my eye makeup looks a little crazy, a big, full lash helps pull the look together. I mean, why even wear them if the back row can’t see them? Isn’t that what stage makeup is for? :P
What are your favorite brands and why?
APRIL: MAC, NYX, Maybelline, L’Oreal, and Elf. All are amazing, long lasting quality that keep you looking FLAWLESS all performance long.
TOM: I have fallen in love with Anastasia powder and cream contour sets. They set beautifully on my skin and for as much as I use them (and how much I apply) they go the mile. I also love Airspun powders (found in Walmart or drug stores) for highlighting/setting powders. They are amazing, heavy, and inexpensive. I also use a lot of Urban Decay products. I find that they are highly pigmented so even though you spend the money on their products, I don’t go through them as fast. One last brand I use all the time is Tarte. I use their foundation for both Tom and Rebecca. It has a clay base and amazing coverage.
What’s the most common makeup mistake you see from dancers and how can they fix it?
APRIL: Most dancers forget the importance of a LIP LINER. Using a lip liner not only to shape and define your lips but also to fill in your lip before applying your lipstick acts as a primer and keeps your lip looking fresh without having to reapply throughout your show.
TOM: Eyelashes. Here are some steps to help fix that.
First, make sure the lash fits your eye. If it’s too long, cut it down. Repeat this process until it fits your eye. I recommend cutting from the inside so you don’t lose the drama of the longer lashes on the outside.
Next, make sure you have a good, solid black liner on the base of your eye. And always make sure that before you place the lash on your eye that you curl those eyelashes with a curler!
Start from the inside of your eye and place the lash as close to your actual lash line and gradually attach it a little above the lash line as you move further to the outside of your eye. This way, the false lash doesn’t give you a droopy eye look.
Once the lash is on and in the place you want it, give another swipe of black liner to hide the line of the false lash.
The final step is to take some mascara and give a good coat to your lashes up into the false lash to help blend them together. Since you lifted the outside end off the line, it won’t exactly blend together so don’t worry!
For a more dramatic eye you could even double stack two of your favorite lashes for more volume.
So, there you have it. Dancer makeup tips straight from the pros.
The Major Takeways: Use setting spray, work on perfecting those false lashes, and try the drugstore brands before you spend a fortune at Ulta.
Are you a makeup artist? Let's collaborate! I'd love to hear your personal tips and tricks to add to this interview. Send me an email!
Do you have any other questions for these makeup artists? Ask away in the comments.