Resource for Dancer Makeup Look Features!

So, it’s going to get repetitive really fast explaining my preferred makeup terminology with every look shared. So in the interest of streamlining things, here’s one resource that will cover everything you need to know to play with the makeup looks. Yes, when you get behind the fold it looks really daunting.

For starts: every face is unique. Because of that, I don’t intend to fill out every face chart completely; use whatever highlight, blush placement, natural lip color, eyebrow filler, etc. best suits your skin and bone structure. Youtube is your buddy for learning about that, if you aren’t quite sure. We’ll mainly be looking at the saturation of color and placement for eyes and lips, since that’s the meaty part that gives makeup its transformative power.

If I’m specifying a blush color, it’s often because it’s versatile across many skin tones. For instance, in Athena’s look, Cargo’s Key Largo blush is densely pigmented; on someone like me, I use the fluffiest of fluffy brushes with barely any on it, and get a good flush. But on someone like Athena, a woman of color,  the color can easily be applied a little more densely, for a very saturated flush that would show up well on her. A shade like NARS’s Orgasm, that’s often held up as being a blush that matches everyone (Let’s not discuss that misnomer) would, in fact, be most useful for her as a highlight, because it’s not pigmented enough for anything other than the reflective shimmer to show. So in the interest of versatility, I’m trying to pick products that you won’t have to guess another shade for if mine is off for you. And I’ll do my best to note if I have chosen a color that is perfect for the particular character I’m “making up,” but that may need a little adaptation for the real world. “My lips but better” isn’t an actual color, but a range of colors defined entirely by how they appear on the wearer.

If you see me using a term like “medium brown,” or “dark brown,” “medium-bright coral,” in my makeup charts, it’s relative to your existing skin tone. If you have pale skin, like me, your medium brown to get the look may be a shade that someone at the other end of the spectrum would use as a highlighter, or lid color, or not be able to use at all. If you’re at the darkest, most saturated end of the spectrum, you may find yourself using a lot more blacks and chocolate browns, the kind that the pale person uses only for eyeliner with a rich smoky eye. It’s all relative, and if you have any questions about adapting a look for your skin tone, please ask me! I worked as a makeup artist for quite a while, and the diversity of canvases to work with was one of the best things about that job. I am happy to help you find color options, or ways to adapt the technique. If I’m demonstrating a look on myself, you’ll see me using highlighters and neutral shades that are appropriate for my skin, but I’ve left off color names for those, because they aren’t useful for more than maybe 10% of makeup users, with me being fishbelly pale. Basically, in most cases, don’t take the product names/shades too seriously.

Here’s a few terms you’ll want to know, if you don’t ordinarily spend a lot of time thinking about makeup.


Eyelid- the part of your eyelid covering your eyeball when your eye is shut. Not necessarily the entirety of the area below your brow bone, the way it is in common vernacular; it helps us to be as precise as possible.

Crease- the  fold created when your eye is open (if you have a double fold.) Also, the place where you would like to shade as though that fold might be for some looks, if you have a single epicanthic fold (Monolid or the stereotypical “Asian Eyes” shape- fuck, I hate that term.) Whether or not you have a deep physical crease, you can still use the term to apply to the placement of the eye shadow, though you may need to adjust the intensity of the color if it’s not complementing an existing physical crease.

A note on single-fold eyelid shapes: depending on your personal style and preferences, you might choose to lighten the color used for the crease, if it’s a smoky natural, or leave it off entirely. Or you might choose to adopt cut-crease techniques that are not designed to blend with a double-fold crease. Using a flat, firm brush to outline the artificial crease, rather than a fluffy brush that disburses the pigment wider will help you get a sharp line.

Browbone- the place immediately below your eyebrows- technically, they both sit on the bone, but it’s easier to refer to the browbone as the skin below, that may be highlighted or contoured to emphasize the bone structure.

Outer Corner- toward the outside of your face.

Inner Corner- toward the centerline of your face.

Lashline- most often referring to the upper eyelid, the area you apply eyeliner at the base of the eyelashes. Can also apply to the lower lashline, but most makeup nuts separate them out since they merit different techniques and application.

Lower Lashline- the base of your lower eyelashes.

Waterline- the area between the base of your lashes, and your eyeball. Often very sensitive, very watery, and may require different products or techniques to achieve different effects.

Outer V- a term sometimes used in shading smokey eyes with several colors. Generally, the outer edge of the crease and eyelid, connected to form a V. The darkest part of the smoky eye for normal or close-set eyes. May make wide-set eyes look even wider set. Wide-set eyes are generally advised to avoid darkening the outer V, or in some cases, to even reverse the look, place the darker colors toward the inner corner, to make the eyes appear closer together.

Face and Lips:

Contour- the process of creating artificial shadows on the face in order to make bone structure appear more prominent. Techniques vary widely by face shape and coloring: check out youtube for techniques for your face shape. In general, while you CAN use a bronzer or a foundation a shade or two deeper than your skin tone to do it, I don’t recommend this: you see a lot of cool colors in shadows; blues, grays, greens, and those products are much warmer, rosier, and don’t look as natural. For many skin tones, NARS Casino is a superb contour product, as it has a blue-er tone to the brown. Often, I found myself using matte smoky eyeshadows to get the right shade for those in my chair who were didn’t fall into the medium-pale to medium-tan range that (unfortunately) most cosmetics, including Casino, are developed to suit.  For exceptionally saturated skintones, contouring is often less helpful; the same effect can be created by building highlights into the face instead. (see below.)

Highlight- The process of accenting a spot on the face where more light hits, to emphasize bone structure or skin texture. Most common places: inner corner of eyelid, to make someone feel better rested. White eyeliner on the waterline, to make eyes look better rested. Concealer under the eyelid to lighten bags to blend with the rest of the skin. Top of the cupid’s bow on the lips, to make the lips appear fuller. Highlighting may be done by using an opaque cream less saturated than the color of the skin it’s going on (like the under-eye concealer), or by using a product with reflective particles to reflect light back, leaving the impression of the skin being dewy, or moisturized, or youthful. You may notice these are all buzzwords heavily used in the sales copy for makeup ads, since they are often helpful in telling customers how reflective the product is.

Cupid’s Bow- the spot toward the middle top edge of the upper lip, often defined like the top of a heart.

Additional Techniques:

Tightlining- a technique of applying eyeliner to the waterline and inner edge of the lashlines, rather than applying it to the outer edge as is often done. This technique is used to make the eyes appear larger, and eyelashes longer. Some makeup users may find it difficult or painful, since the waterline is extremely sensitive.

Wings, Eyeliner Wings, Winged Eyeliner, or Winging Eyeliner- A technique in which the eyeliner is extended past the corner of the eye, generally in a sharp, graphic curve. Also sometimes known as “cat-eye”. Often has a “retro” or vintage feel.

False Lashes- Sections of additional hairs intended to fill in sparse spots in the eyelashes, add length or volume, or create layers or effects. Applied with an adhesive like Duo Lash Glue. Application varies depending on the style of lash: they come in single hairs, small clumps, or strips intended to cover some or all of the lashline in one go.  As application goes, I recommend trimming lashes that aren’t intended to cover the whole lashline, and aren’t intended to have an exaggerated graphic edge (like sparkles, or a hard line, or whatnot), to closer to the length of the natural lashes, where they’ll be blending with them. This softens the look, makes them look more natural. Some eye shapes or sizes may prefer working with smaller sections for comfort; my eyes themselves are round enough that most brands of false lash strips pull on my eyelid, and make my eyes feel droopy because they can’t conform to my lid’s natural curve. Use a q tip or toothpick to transfer a little bit of adhesive to the band, wait for it to get tacky (I don’t wave it in the air, lest it pick up more germs in the air and cause an infection). This usually takes like 20-30 seconds. Then, press it into place, adjust it to lay with your lashes’ natural curve, and wait for the adhesive to set. I curl my lashes before and after applying falsies, to get them on the same curve, and again, make them look natural. You can finish with a second coat of mascara, that will blend them further.  To remove, just wet a Q-tip in eyeliner, press it to the base of the lashline, and slowly tug away, applying remover to any spots where the adhesive hasn’t loosened. Don’t just tear them off or you may find yourself pulling natural lashes out too, or introducing infections. You can clean the adhesive off them, soak them in rubbing alcohol, and then reuse them a few extra times, if you really want the mileage.

Foiling, or Applying Wet- some dry pigments are able to be mixed with water or a mixing medium (I make my own out of water and glycerin, which can be found in most first aid sections), to drastically change the intensity and application of the color. Youtube tutorials to learn the details. Basically, it makes colors more vibrant, may hold in sparkle better, but also may cause running or creasing if you mix too much water with your pigment an then apply it.

Cut-crease- a technique for more dramatic makeup looks in which the crease is outlined with color, but the edge where it meets the eyelid is kept sharp. Often used in theatrical or stage makeup.

Primer- most makeup is designed to be worn with a primer. That may vary depending on the makeup, and your skin. Eye primers are generally sticky, to hold pigment and prevent it from falling onto the rest of the face. Facial primers are often concerned with sub protection, cutting down on oily shine, or sometimes moisturizing. Primers are especially important when working with bright or sparkly pigments. Urban Decay sells one of the better all-purpose eyeshadow primers, but for some loose pigments, you may want something even tackier, such as Fyrinnae’s Pixie Epoxy. In a pinch, you can use a cream or liquid foundation as a primer (if you have normal/dry skin), so long as there’s a lot of powder overtop. For oily skin, you may put a layer of powder over the lids, to help the eyeshadow pigment grip.

Face Chart- a useful memory or teaching tool that lets you note down placement of colors, and product names. The one I’m using is from MACFaceCharts. It doesn’t have as much space as I’d like, as it’s intended for mainly noting down products, in the hopes of getting the person being made over to come back later to buy them. It can be printed out, for you to keep on hand while you’re applying, or you can simply be using it to test possible looks without actually having to scrub them off your face when you’re done.

My-Lips-But-Better, or MLBB- a name for a range of lipstick shades that is very close to your specific natural lipcolor, but may be slightly more even, or slightly more pigmented, or may have a little more contrast with your skin. It’s different than a “nude” lipcolor because a nude one is designed to bled in so it looks like you’re wearing nothing. An MLBB shade is an augmentation of your natural color.

Nude Lips- a color designed to be exactly your natural shade.  Not rosier, or peachier, or pinker.

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