the good, the bad and the ugly

Through the magic of flattering makeup and lighting, as well as the act of taking 100 photographs for every one I use in a post, I've been getting a lot of very, very generous compliments about my looks lately. Gotta love that! But most days I don't put on my face, and I have to say I am a wreck without it. Between allergies and genetics, my face is changing so much as I get older. How can I look so much like my brother now, after never having looked like him my entire life?

I thought I'd share my process of getting stage hair and makeup ready, but backwards, as I just can't put that "before" photo at the top of this entry! This is a bastardized version of the fantastic makeup and hair instruction given to me by the inimitable Bombshell Betty during a twelve week intensive burlesque seminar I took with her at the beginning of this past year. If you need real instruction on hair or makeup for the stage (especially the burlesque stage), you might check out the gorgeous "burlesquemama". Here she is doing a false eyelash application tutorial. She knows what's up, plus she's super honest about her body image and her life as a burlesque dancer, too. You can also consult the books Making Faces by Kevin Aucoin, for makeup help, and Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells, which if I could follow better would be invaluable.

Here goes it. If this is something you might refer to in the future, remember to start at the bottom and work up, or you'll end up in a bathrobe and towel, ready for bed! This is not for the faint of heart, by the way.

The final product. I could've smiled, and I could've darkened the liner up after the glitter went on, but I forgot.

Pin curls out, a.k.a. the moment of truth. At this point I say a Hail Mary and start pushing hair around and pinning it until it looks okay. If your wavy bangs are bumming you out, try switching your part, or just pinning them up and forgetting about them, like I do!

Both lashes on. Then, pat eyelids with a vitamin E stick which your glitter-come-eyeshadow will adhere to. Pat glitter over lids with fingers gently. Do a finishing layer of eyeliner if too much glitter is covering the dark lines. I forgot that part, see above. After, only after, you are done with your eyes should you do the makeup on the rest of your face. Otherwise you might find your eye sockets filled with glitter. 

I take my false lashes up off of my natural line, glueing them up like a wing. The glue will dry clear, if you get the right glue.

Glue on lash, dots of glue on eyeliner. Let dry a little before applying.

Use the end of a bobby pin or tweezer to apply glue.

Fill in eyebrows, apply eyeshadow base and shadow (I usually use shimmery white), and then a gel liner applied with a brush. This is the step that will send me to the venue begging for someone to do it for me two times out of three. This particular night I nailed it, but that is very rare! Put on a coat or two of mascara.

This is the real deal, folks. People at morning circle at Stella's school see this almost every day. I'm almost 42, and it's not that I look old, it's just that I look strange. This is probably so mortifying to my old college pals. It's certainly mortifying to me!

Pin curls. I do them willy nilly and get decent results. Follow tutorials in Vintage Hairstyling and you'll get even better results! I am a licensed California architect and I cannot follow those directions to save my life.

The mugshot. I've always wanted to be one of those people who looks great naturally. Turns out I'm not. My friend, writer Jennie Rose, writes an amazing piece on discovering this here.


  1. We are the same age & I think you are beautiful both ways - you got the natural beauty & then the glam beauty! I have the same experience with the liner above upper lashes, when it works looks fantastic. Love the backwards transformation - very cool!

  2. You flatter me so! Just this morning I was thinking about all the times I filmed myself getting ready for a show and then as I started to edit it into a video deleted it.

    To me Glamour is majic. That is the original meaning a faeire spell!! It's art and it's fun to decorate your body!
    But it also has it's place! Why get up an hour earlier just to take a kiddo to school.

    You are beautiful! without makeup too!! thanks for posting this. I think this is what women need to see!

  3. You have the prettiest & hugest eyes and are a natural beauty! I would love to learn how to do pinup makeup.

    There is a local makeup artist on Maui who teams with photographers and does portraits, part island girl, part pinup. I totally wanna do it when I get rid of this 30 lbs I gained in the past year (a long story involving hormones, cupcakes and an unused bikram membership).

  4. Thank you, Larissa. That is very kind, VERY kind! I'm definitely not seeing the natural beauty anymore. A classic case of not appreciating what I had when I was younger!

    Thanks, Ann. Do you ever show photos of yourself at doodlesandjots? Liner is so frustrating, and I have hooded eyelids which makes the whole process ridiculous.

    burlesquemama, you have got to do that video. I would love to see it. In the beginning of the school year I was making time to get up and pin curl my hair (why?) but as the year went on and I needed to get back here to work on costuming and things, I was like "what's the point!". Plus, I shower maybe twice a week so the whole situation is sort of a wreck. You're an inspiration, though!

    Tania, you are sweet! Also, you are missing the point if you think you need to take off 30 lbs.! I am 5'-2" and weigh almost 150, and I am getting up there and going crazy onstage! You should take those photos now, they will make sure you look great at great angles and maybe some help with the makeup and hair. Work with ALL you've got! Not that we wouldn't all like to lose weight, but it can all be beautiful! I would never have said that a year ago, but I've seen the light!

  5. I was thinking the photoshoot could be my reward, I don't know how much it costs but am thinking it won't be cheap. I like to have a pot at the end of the rainbow as motivation, something to look forward too. I usually do jewelry but I think a photoshoot would be more fun & meaningful. I did do a photoshoot this year with my new friend Sue, a quirky in home holiday portrait and yup, I agree, in the hands of professional, they really know how to bring out the best in you.

  6. Tania, the reward idea works too! I can relate to that.

    I love the holiday portrait, I just saw it. It's super joyful, and peaceful! Great work, and really pretty! Merry Christmas! xoxo


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