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Flawless: How to Nail Your Little Dancer's Makeup

It's nearly time for our Mini Stars concert and for some dance mums the part they dread the most is applying makeup. We all know how hard it is to get our little people to sit still for a long time, let alone trying to apply make up to sensitive areas on the face and in a delicate fashion. This week I spoke with Tara Clarke, mum boss of Black Lash Makeup Design to talk about tips and tricks to nail dance makeup. Tara provides Makeup Artistry services for Bridal, special events, branding photography and also does lessons and workshops. She has 4 children and her 3 girls have all danced at CSDE for many years.

What are some of the biggest difficulties people face doing children's makeup?

I danced as a kid and my favourite part of comps or concerts was definitely doing the makeup. I used to do other kids as well as my own because I just loved to do it so much. Having said that, doing the makeup for my own children isn’t easy and even with the tips and 'know how' of being a professional MUA, I have to have the patience of a saint to get through it. Little kids find it really difficult to sit still, so you obviously need to be able to get through the makeup as quickly as possible. They struggle with holding their eyes open while you put eyeliner on or do any sort application near their eyeballs. They also (usually) have really small mouths and lips, which can make the application of the red lipstick we tend to use for performances an absolute nightmare. All these things coupled with the fact that a lot of mamas don’t even feel confident doing their own makeup, can make it a particularly stressful time and usually ends in tears from one party or the other.

What are some tips to make it easier to apply children's make up?

I’ve put together some tips on how you can take the pressure off and get through applying your child’s makeup without having mascara running down both your faces.

Have a plan!

Make sure you start with all the products you need laid out and know what order you are going to apply them in. Ensure you have the brushes you need, your pencils are sharpened and you have some cotton tips and micellar water to clean up any slips. Also, get your little one to make sure they have a top on that doesn’t need to be yanked over their face. I always get mine to put on their dressing gown.  I have the following products in my kids stage makeup kit:

  • Foundation

  • Setting powder

  • Blush

  • Eyeshadow

  • Liquid liner

  • Pencil liner

  • Mascara

  • Red lipstick

Order of Application

This is the process I follow for a basic stage makeup. This is usually what you will need to do for either concert however, sometimes the older kids have something different. For stage makeup I always like to start with the foundation and setting powder. You need a foundation that is 2 – 3 shades darker (depending on the brand) than your child’s skin. A matte, medium to full coverage foundation is also best. I cover the whole face, including the eyelids as this helps to hold the shadow on, and then I follow it with setting powder. Blend everything under the chin and down the neck. Next I apply blush, a deep plum or burgundy colour. TIP - Get your child to smile and cover the apples of the cheeks and sweep upwards to the temples. These 2 steps are usually the easy parts so it’s good to get the out the way quickly.

Next up is eyeshadow. A matte eyeshadow is generally what is used for concert. You’ll need a light creamy colour and a dark brown colour. The better the pigment the easier it is to apply as you need less to make it obvious. Start by sweeping the light coloured shadow over the whole eyelid, this will help to set the foundation and keep the shadow on as well as open up space under their brow bone. Next take the brown colour, I use a stiff brush to do this, and cover the mobile lid. That’s the bit that moves around if you wiggle your finger on it. Take this up to the crease and try to make a little wing shape to the side and then join it again with the bottom corner of your child’s eye. If you have a highlighter in your palette put a small amount of this under your child’s brow bone.

For eyeliner, I use a liquid on the top lid. Get your child to close their eye and draw a line along as close to the lash line as you can. While their eyes are closed and the liner is drying, I do the mascara. Use your thumb to pull their lashes up slightly and act as a shield for the mascara going onto the lids. TIP - If you do get any mascara where it isn’t wanted then just leave it and once it has dried on the skin you can pick it off with a clean cotton tip or stiff brush. Once the liner and mascara have dried get them to open their eyes and it’s time for the worst part, the pencil liner on the bottom lash line. If your child struggles with anything it will be this. I get a very sharp pencil, they work quicker and more accurately when sharp, and ask my child to tilt their heads back and look up at the ceiling with their eyeballs. I then use one hand to pull the bottom lash line down a bit and draw under the lash line as quickly as I can. TIP - I do a count to 3 and then stop. This seems to help with my kids as they know what to expect. So I draw for count of 3 then stop and let them blink, then again for 3 and stop. I do this for as long as I need to in order to draw a line under the whole lash line. Another thing you can try is using a brush to spread the liner. So if you can only get a third or half of the line drawn, try then using a brush to push the pencil along and blend it out. I’ve also heard people say that if you get your child to lie with their head in your lap it’s easier to get the liner done that way, though I’ve not tried this.

Lastly, I apply lipstick. I tend to use a liner as it does help with the longevity of the lipstick though it is not essential. TIP - I always use a brush rather than trying to apply the colour from the tube, I find this much easier with tiny mouths. Some moms like to use a liquid lipstick the only problem with these is that if you stuff it up or the child does manage to get it on a costume or smudge it, they are a nightmare to try to fix. Especially in red. A good matte lipstick with a liner underneath will stay quite well and you still have the ability to clean up any slips.

Do you recommend any products that are good for children?

Up until recently I have used the Australis Stayput foundation. It had great coverage and once it was on it was on, that stuff did not move so it rarely came off on the costumes. I think they’ve stopped making it though so I will probably use MAC studio fix on my girls now as I use this in my makeup kit. Arbonne make a really good coverage foundation and some people feel more comfortable about using products like this on their child’s skin. Otherwise the varieties that you can get at Priceline are more than adequate, I would personally recommend staying away from Covergirl. I’ve seen a lot of nasty reactions to this brand.

When it comes to eyeshadow the better pigmented ones will last you longer as you don’t need to use as much. They also have less fall out when you use them so you don’t end up making your child’s face all dirty while you are applying them to the eye. TIP – if this does happen use some loose powder to brush it away otherwise you will just swipe it into the foundation. Rimmel and Australis make great eyeshadow palettes and you can pick these up relatively cheaply when Priceline or Big W have a cosmetics sale.

Invest in a couple of semi decent brushes. Morphe brushes from Mecca can be really affordable and they will work well and last the distance. You need a fluffy brush, a flat stiff brush, a lip brush and a blush/powder brush. You can apply foundation with your hands or a brush or beauty blender it won’t make a huge difference for this. Make sure you clean the brushes you use after each time. Just wash them in warm water with some shampoo and lay them flat to dry with the ends hanging over a bench. Dirty brushes can breed bacteria and cause skin and eye infections.

Use a cream cleanser or micellar water to remove makeup as soon as you can. You may need to wipe the face several times with cleanser and then use a warm flannel or cloth to ensure all the makeup is removed. A makeup remover specifically for eye makeup can be helpful as you won’t have to rub at the eye to get it off. For this reason I never use waterproof mascara on my kids. The face silks or microfibre cloths that use only water to remove makeup can also be great but you need to make sure you go over the skin several times as you don’t want any residues left. As with any makeup products some kids will be fine and others will have reactions or sore irritated skin after use. You really need to be comfortable with what you are applying and look out for any redness or itchiness. Never share mascara’s or eyeliners and any brushes as this can cause cross contamination. Anything that goes near their eyes needs to be kept clean and not be shared with other kids. TIP - A mascara has a shelf life of 3 months and this needs to be adhered to regardless of how much you have used. Most other products will last you between 12 – 18 months.

Tara will be running a makeup application course aimed at self application of dance makeup for 10-13 year olds at the studio soon. Please see her post in our Facebook group to register your interest.

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