Crafting a Set Coda: Makeup and Hair

Close up of eye makeup, in red and gold colours

Just as I was finishing the Costuming section, I realised I had forgotten about the make up and hair. I’m of the school that believes that unless you have a severe allergy or skin condition, you should always wear makeup for performances. It has nothing to do with liking to wear makeup, or whether you wear make upduring “normal” life or not. I don’t, except for dates or parties; most of the time I don’t even wear a tinted moisturiser.

Remember, when you are performing, you are not wearing makeup for yourself. You are wearing makeup primarily to accentuate your features and make them visible at a distance by your audience, and to reduce glare from lights if you are on stage or have bright lights on you. As drag queens say, you are painting for the back row. This is not about “glamour” or “vanity”, it’s about *functionality*. You can bypass all the pretty eyeshadow colours if you don’t want to use them, although they are my favourite part. But you want your eyes to be enhanced by some form of lining and preferably have depth in some part of the socket (the eyeshadows do this), your eyebrows darkened, your mouth outlined or noticeable, and the planes on your face somehow enhanced. And I mean “enhanced” not as “made to look better”, but “made more noticeable”. You can see an extreme version of this in Anton Corbijn’s famous photo of Luciano Pavarotti: he doesn’t need the mouth lined or coloured because the beard frames it, but the eyebrows are very darkened, there’s a very strong nose contouring, some more darkening of the sides to shape the cheekbones, and the eyes are thickly lined. This makes his facial features stand out, and from a distance, instead of being a shape with some flesh bag on top, his face can be seen clearly.

In the video below, you can see makeup aimed at a Ballet dancer, with great explanations on choosing colours and how to create a much milder version of this enhancing effect. You can see that the eyeliner actually goes way below the waterline, and the eye socket is much darker. This makes the eyes appear bigger.

We don’t normally dance in big opera houses. Our smaller venues might not need to go *this* big, but I think it’s educational to see it done and hear the reasons behind the choices. Again, this is an issue of functionality. You wouldn’t do a performance wearing your practice leggings, no matter how comfortable they are, so think of the make up as another layer of your costume. If you don’t want any obvious artifice like glittery shadows, you can just use a basic form of contouring, along with tightlining and natural lashes for your eyes and a matte lip colour, so your face appears to have no make up at all, but still has the stronger light and shadow enhancing your features, bigger eyes, and a darker mouth. But whichever way you choose to go, make sure that it matches your costume in intensity and style.

Once we’re past the basic canvas of your face, you could also add extra decorations like crystals or markings. I would be *extremely* careful when choosing facial markings, as a lot of them have meaning as rites of passage, religious beliefs, or achievements within some of the groups our dances originate in, and they are not ours to take onto ourselves without having earned them, or without practicing the religion they derive from.

Side chignon with white and red roses, shot from behind
A hair garden

Hair-wise, some styles have rules about leaving the back clear (like ATS®); others like Melaya Leiff will have a scarf or the like. The hair garden (left) is popular in ATS® because it balances out the richness, and more importantly the volume of the costume. The layers of skirts and shawls give a bulky lower body half, you need something visually appealing and with some volume to draw the viewer’s eyes to the top, so your face is brought out and your head balances out the heavy bottom. The “tribal” headdresses can give you a great rich look if you prefer that, same with turbans.

If you are dancing fusion styles, there are some wonderful crowns and headdresses inspired by anything from Thai dancers to Art Nouveau and Art Deco images. Go with something that links in style with your costume, music and dance steps.

I’m leaving a final video here, from Fat Chance Belly Dance. It covers make up and costume considerations. The quality is not the best as it is quite a few years old now, but it will give you a good insight on the reasons behind the make up and costume choices for ATS®, and if you don’t do ATS®, it might give you some ideas to follow.

What are your favourite makeup and hair styles to use for dancing? Leave a comment below!

Review: Revolution Haunted Collection, Liquid Highlighters

Last week Facebook showed me an advert for Revolution’s upcoming Haunted collection, and the highlighters caught my eye. Now, I’m not that big on highlighters, at least not liquid highlighters, but these came in a tiny skull, and who doesn’t love tiny skulls? But I didn’t order, I wanted to see if I could catch them in store.

Today, I passed by Superdrug and saw they had them available, at a 3×2 (SCORE!), which is even better for inexpensive brands like Revolution. I have only tried them on my hand, but I think I can give my verdict so far:

  •  the skull bottles are CUTE. Like seriously cute, the photos on the website are not really showing the level of detail that went into them; and they are GLASS (hello reusable materials!)
  • lady at Superdrug said they were all lip safe (yay! but maybe I should wait to hear from Revolution themselves)
  • they all feel just a smidge tacky after application even a while later
  • paranormal looks like you put on a thin patina of light gold over the area; this should be brilliant for dancers to add to collar bones/chest maybe stomach, or maybe even mixing with foundation for a bit of a golden glow, but I can see it quickly messing up careful faces done using powder, at least on me
  • lovers wrath is less in your face and more subtle with pink and lavender glitter, but that only seems to react to light at certain angles; this should be less noticeable and maybe easier to use but still might be a bit too much for every day face, but perfect for body highlight
  • blood of my enemies… *sigh* I had such high hopes, but alas, it was not to be. The glitter is gold, not red, despite what it shows on the website’s photo, and there’s hardly any of it that actually shows once you use it; it also STAINS. Like BADLY stains, so unless you want to look like you’ve fed on the diluted glittery blood from Edward Cullen dripping out of your mouth, I don’t see much use for this (thank goodness it was free) except maybe to give some pop onto a matte lip. Annoyingly, it’s the least tacky of the lot.
  • I skipped Envy as I don’t use greens that much.

All of these have *really* emphasised the texture on my hand’s skin, I expect they’ll have similar effect elsewhere, so use with care.

I also tried the lipsticks; the packaging with the skulls and the flowers is lovely. Vampire’s Kiss is very similar to Illamasqua’s Vampette, a red based matte dark plum; Captivating Curse was sort of super-dark grey matte. Formula seemed nice and the swatches on my hand had quite some staying power so should be really good for stage or performance.

Dupes and comparisons:

  • Paranormal: it’s a little bit cooler and chunkier than Illamasqua’s OMG
  • Lover’s Wrath: is cooler than KvD’s Pink Opal or Nyx’ Snow Rose; much more pink than Nyx’ Twilight Tint or Ultra Violet, both of which are much more blue; I suspect Envy might be more similar to Twilight Tint actually.
  • Blood of my Enemies: the only one I’ve got vaguely similar to this is the gel glitter that came with Illamasqua’s Demise palette, but that one is dark pink over a neutral gel.

Out of my favourite Indie company, Aromaleigh Cosmetics, Selenia is way too muted, Dryocampa is a bit warmer/orangey, Diaphora too white, but Conspiracy of Silence is almost a perfect match in colour for Paranormal, although a touch warmer and more shimmery than glittery

Revolution Skull Highlighters

New Revolution Haunted Collection

Overall, great new colours for the collection, and you can bet the bottles will find use after I’m done with the liquids in them.
Revolution’s Haunted Collection is available online and at Superdrug.

Make up brushes cleaning

Brush Guards on eyeshadow brushesMahin did link to this video in late May, and because I was another one that was using MAC cleaner and not really having results that I liked, I decided to give the whole system a try. So yes, this is one of those posts where I do the stupid things so you don’t have to. Ok, not quite “stupid”, as this method works WONDERS. I managed to find the exact Da Vinci brush soap; I got it with a pack of mixed Brush Guard, and a separate 15-unit unbranded “guards” too. And then I got washing.

I was amazed. I had a few brushes that I thought were permanently stained with pigment or gel eye liner suddenly looking *clean*. And I mean fully clean, with white bristles recovering their original colour. Even better, the Brush Guard suggested in the video allowed me to “recover” a few brushes that had been a bit battered for whatever reason (bristles getting caught on lids or zippers, for instance) and that now, after drying properly inside the guards, have recovered their real shape. Everything feels soft and clean, and the proper Brush Guards allowed me to put the brushes upside-down inside a mesh-sided pencil holder to dry.

You might have noticed that I said “proper” Brush Guards. This is because the unbranded ones that came from China, despite being about 1/4 of the price, were marginally useful at best. The mesh was way too soft, which meant no upside-down drying in them. The mesh was also nowhere near as dense as the Brush Guard ones, and therefore bristles were constantly poking out even when using them to dry brushes flat. Even worse, some of the meshes were WAY too big and therefore not dense enough to keep any brush in shape at all. So I ended having to move the original Brush Guards in between brushes to get them to do their job.

You can see the difference on the photo at the start of this post, and below. The images show the three types of guards on similar brushes above, and on the exact same brush below… I used a slightly bigger brush so the mesh size could be seen better. You can see clearly that the Brush Guard mesh is far denser and more rigid, and therefore better suited for purpose. And while the cheaper guards will work fine for keeping brushes sorted in a rigid container at home, I will most definitely not be taking my brushes on the road with them. Also, while the Variety Pack from the Brush Guard gives a good selection, there’s only one small eyeshadow brush, which is far too little considering the number of brushes we can use during make-up application, and I would suggest getting one Variety pack, and one for Shadow/Liner (XS)

Brush guards on Mac 118

Free: American Tribal Style costume and make-up videos

Fat Chance Belly Dance vol 2: Make up and Costuming video cover

Fat Chance Belly Dance vol 2: Make up and Costuming

Fat Chance Belly Dance have made their volume 2 available to view for free online. The resolution is rather low at 640x480px, and the quality looks a bit grainy, but this has more to do with the original date of the video (1994) rather than any purposeful quality reduction for online viewing.

You can find the whole of the vol. 2 here, in 13 chunks that have been uploaded to Vimeo. There’s a lot of explanation about the whats and whys of ATS costuming, and a few things said in it clarify some things that were not at all clear in the FCBD patterns sold through Folkwear. It also talks about things like choosing a single colour palette for the whole troupe to get a unified look.Overall, because it covers specifically stage make-up, it is worth watching even if you don’t do tribal or ATS, just to get a general idea of how to approach it if you think your stage make-up isn’t up to scratch. It’s not terribly detailed, and there are no real specifics about application or precise techniques like contouring, but there are plenty of videos available online that cover these, and if you still want more, there are blogs and even DVDs from people like Princess Farhana that specifically cover stage make-up, including things like body contouring (yes, there is such a thing).

I am also having problems with Vimeo streaming, but that might be my own connection, but worst case scenario, you can watch the segments one at a time. Carolena has also very kindly allowed Vimeo users to download the files, so you can compile your own little DVD if you wanted, or keep the videos available to watch on your preferred mobile platform. Overall, well worth viewing at least once!

Review: Aromaleigh Mineral Make-up

Aromaleigh's Eye shadowI don’t often review make-up because I am a creature of habit, and I am rather settled in what I use, so there’s little “new”. Of course I could write about what I’ve chosen to use and why, but mostly, I just forget. Not this time. I was introduced to Aromaleigh, a mineral make-up company, a few years ago, and immediately loved the aesthetics they offered. I was new to mineral make-up and also new to applying pigments, and slowly, with the help of the people in the community, I became quite better about the treatment I gave my skin, and far more adventurous with make-up. And when I started dancing, I came armed with a bit more knowledge, a good set of brushes accumulated over the years, and a penchant for the dramatic.

There are two types products of Aromaleigh that I use the most, the first being their finishing powders. I am not a fan of foundation, they almost invariable oxidise on my face, so I was after something that I could use to add just a layer of “barely there” correction. Their “Glamoured” finishing powder fits the bill, being what other brands present as “mineral veil”; they have light diffusing particles that make your skin look a lot smoother, and if you have, like me, one of those difficult tones, it can help you give a unified, radiant skintone, It looks fantastic on photos, it doesn’t run when performing, and these days I wouldn’t use anything else. I normally use it as a final cover, and finish setting it with a couple of pumps of Lush’s Aqua Roma (lavender and rose water).

If you are after something that finishes and corrects but without the extra ethereal soft focus look, their Coquille product is the ticket. Both it and Glamoured come in different colours, and of course if you have specific areas that need different correction, the beauty of the minerals pigments is that you can do a mix or apply differently to get what you need. And if what you want is some sparkle, their Laluna powders will do the trick. Unlike most body glitter, which has a definite golden or bronzing base, or big and harsh glitter, Laluna comes in a very fine powder in a pale base with white/silvery sparkle, and in different size glitter, so you can go for a “barely there” illumination to your nose, chin and forehead, or an all out for arms, collarbones or wherever else you want.

Aromaleigh's Eye shadows 2The second product I use of theirs is eye shadow. Aromaleigh’s range of colours and finishes is FANTASTIC, there’s something for everybody, and even more, they regularly release limited collections inspired by a central theme. The previous ones include Ancient Egypt, which has a rich deep gold colour (Bast) which you just HAVE to have if you’re a belly dancer, one inspired in the BBC Sherlock Holmes series called Brilliant Deductions, and the latest inspired by The Hunger Games, called “Ever in Your Favor”. The pigments are very finely milled and stay on without creasing or dropping, which is a problem I’ve found with a lot of the cheaper drugstore pigments out there (Barry M, I’m looking at you!)

Aromaleigh's Ever in Your Favor “Ever in your Favor” appears to be another brilliant collection, with bright, bold colours along rich deep ones. You can take a closer look at the collection here, along with swatches and close-ups. Their swatches are accurate, although how the colours will look on you will depend a lot on whether you use primer, your brushes and application technique, and your underlying skin-tone.

The little jars last forever, although you can just order samples, which are enough to test a colour, or have if you can’t see yourself using it that much. Shipping to the UK is reasonable, but only cost-effective if you place a big-ish order, so if you want to just give it a try, get together with friends who also want to try it. Every single time my make-up has been praised, it’s been a either pure Aromaleigh, or a mix of Aromaleigh with Illamasqua, so if you’re looking at building up your make-up bag, it would be well worth a try.

What I am using in the photos: on the eye, two colours from their Brilliant Deductions collection, called “Recreational Scolding” and “Surveillance Status”, and one from a previous collection called Tutu. Sleek’s Ink Pot gel eyeliner, Illamasqua’s Vow eyeliner in the waterline, Illamasqua’s Eyebrow Cake in Thunder, and L’óreal’s False Lash Architect mascara. My face has Garnier’s 5 sec Perfect Blur and Aromaleigh’s Glamoured in Triteleia.

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