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Patricia Dates O'Brien
Ask Trish

A comprehensive make-up question from England; Lipstick to make you look like a top competitor

by Patricia Dates O'Brien
February 1, 2002

Ask Trish - February 2002

A comprehensive make-up question from England

Dear Trish:

I am a 21 year old student at university in England and have joined my
university Dancesport team. We have a few inter-university
competitions coming up and my partner and I will be dancing ballroom
only. I took ballroom and Latin dancing classes from the age of 10-17
and so only really competed as a junior. As I have not competed for
such a long time, and not as an adult, I am completely stumped as to
how to do my make up!

I am aware that the makeup has to be more over the top than daily wear makeup due to all the lights which can make you look pale. The thing is, I'm stuck on what colour my eye shadow should be. My eyes are brown and I have dark brown hair/eyebrows. I have slightly olive-coloured skin, and so am not too pale. In the open competition, I will be wearing a cream top and a black paneled skirt. For the team competition, I will be wearing a sort of luminous yellow ballroom dress. Could you give me any ideas? Also how much darker should my foundation be than I would normally wear? (One girl in the team said it should be as orangey as possible, is this right?)

Also, have you any tips on choosing a lipstick colour? And with regard to my hair, I have always scraped it back into a bun and put a ruffle round it. Is this too simple or should I go for some hair accessories, e.g., a flower, or hair jewelry?

Sincerely signed,
Desperately Seeking Advice

Dear Desperate —

You are in luck! I too, have dark brown hair, and dark eyebrows, and olive-colored skin, so I'm going to give you the skinny on what I usually do for makeup and hair for performances! (Whew — an easy question, for once!!)

When you do your makeup for competitions, think about the makeup you wear to go out for a night on the town. Its basically the same makeup, with the addition of false eyelashes, and heavier eyeliner, and perhaps a brighter lipstick! What I mean is, your makeup for competition should still look beautiful close-up, and still look like you, only slightly amplified. Many competitors make the mistake of applying theatrical makeup, with heavily drawn lines that are not blended and garish colors. Remember that the judges are viewing you from a very short distance, not from a stage 40 feet away!

Let's start with your foundation. It should be a few shades darker than your skin tone, or should match the color you use to tan your skin. If you have a low neckline on your costume, make sure to extend the foundation to your neck and chest. You should not make yourself look "orangey" — -the florescent lighting used for ballroom competitions is bad, I agree, but it does not change the appearance of the color of your skin, so therefore you don't have to change your own skin color to correct it. Florescent lighting does make one look slightly paler than normal, though, which is why most competitors tan, or use a self-tanning product.

The colors of your costumes are pretty neutral, so you can play around a bit with your makeup colors. For your coloring (and mine too!) you could choose eye colors in a range of taupes and browns and pinks, or, if you are feeling a bit more dramatic, a palette of smoky greys and blacks. Don't be afraid to use a bit of shimmer, in a peach, pink, or white, on your browbone to off-set the eyeshadow and create contrast. Use black eye liner, black mascara, and black false eyelashes to create more contrast, and your eyes are done!

Put some warm pink or peach blush on your cheeks, and use loose powder or a powder compact throughout the comp to get rid of "shine." For your lips, use a brightly colored lipstick. ( I almost always use fire-engine red.) Make sure to line your lips, to give your mouth definition. I like to add a bit of clear lip gloss on the lower lip for extra punch! For more on lips, please see the next "Ask Trish" question below.)

For your hair — I do think a ruffle is a little too casual for performances. The trend in competition hair lately has been all about pretty jeweled clips and rhinestoned pony holders — go shopping around town and I guarantee you'll get some inspiration for your hair. I'm very much in favor of buns — I think they look very dancer-like — and with the rhinestoned hair jewelry out nowadays, you can dress up your bun so many different ways.

For more ideas, you can visit many sites on the web, such as one of my makeup sponsors (shameless plug, I know, I know) www.SallyBeauty.com. They have tons of great products, for cheaper than many of the name brands. They also put out a darn good magazine, and an easy-to-navigate website full of good makeup and hair ideas. Check out their ideas for rhinestoned fingernail designs under "What's New" — you'll love them!

Good luck Desperate, and dance well! If you get any good photos of your competition, e-mail me and we can post them here!

Lipstick to make you look like a top competitor

Hi Trish —

I have a question regarding lipstick color. One of my coaches, a prominent former competitor, has told me that I should always wear bright lipstick when competing. However, I notice in competition pictures over the last year and a half that most top competitors wear neutral or muted lipstick now. I would generally prefer to look like a top competitor, but at the same time, I respect my coach's opinions. Trish, what do you think? I'll be glad to have your feedback!


Hi Sania —

Sometimes it's not really the color of the lipstick, as much as the intensity, or saturation, of the pigment. You can have two hot-pink lipsticks; if one of them has a greater pigment to wax ratio, its gonna show up better on the floor!

Generally, the cheaper the lipstick, the less pigment (raw color) it contains. So if you want to wear a brown or more neutral lip color for competition — try to find one with heavy pigment (you will be able to tell because when you rub it off, some of the color stain will remain on your lips) so that it "reads" brighter on the floor.

Me, I'm pretty much a bright-red lipstick girl, but there was a time when I wanted to find a good hot pink lipstick for comps. I was told (by my coach) about a company called Lip Ink that makes "permanent" lip colors in many shades, including Nude and Mocha, as well as reds and pinks. They are about $14 a bottle (many applications-I've had them for a year and I do a lot of comps) but they are so perfect for competing, because the colors are very intense, and don't rub or sweat off until you remove them with the special cleanser that comes with. You can find Lip Ink at www.lipink.com.

A lot of companies are jumping on the no-rub-off bandwagon lately, like Cover Girl and Lip Sense, but Lip Ink has the most saturated colors. I think this product would give you the colors you want to try, yet with the intensity to show up well on the floor.

Ask Trish…to do your makeup at dance competitions! Trish's next makeup appearance will be February 28-March 2 at the Heritage Classic Dancesport competition, in Asheville, North Carolina. If you are going to the competition and would like to have your makeup professionally applied, please E-Mail Trish at TrishDatesOBrien@aol.com to set up an appointment. Makeup applications are $35 dollars and do not include lashes — BYOL!

Special Announcement…..Trish can now be seen on Manhattan cable, on "Neon's World Dance New York." This wonderful weekly program highlights all types of dance occurring in and around New York City. Trish's makeup instruction segments are called "Face It! With Trish Dates O'Brien." For more information on the show, go to www.Neonissima.com.

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