If you've got a great appearance, a yen for competition and a strong constitution, you've probably at least considered entering a beauty contest. If television shows like America's Next Top Model have taught you anything, it's that making up to look great on a runway or on stage is a very different business from making up for a night on the town. To compete in a contest, you have to get serious about your look.
Beauty Contests Are Ugly Business
Anyone involved in the industry of competitive beauty will tell you that the pageant is not totally about physical looks. Talent and brains and poise are all more important. There is a lot of truth to that, but as they are called "beauty contests", it stands to reason that winners must conform to a societal standard of attractiveness.
Making up well is always hard to do. Applying stage makeup is a serious skill. Remember that actresses and professional makeup artists spend years learning this craft. Prepping your face for a contest requires excellent cosmetics that can be very expensive, as well as a lot of patience and care.
A Clean Canvas
You probably already take great care of your skin, but the harsh lights used in a contest will show up every flaw you know you have and a lot you didn't. Weeks before the pageant, start preparing your face for scrutiny with hair removal. Waxing can be harsh for sensitive skin, so try threading instead. Allow time for a few sessions and be sure you'll have several days to recover after your last session, so that any residual redness will fade.
Any slight unevenness in tone or hyper-pigmentation stands out throughout an auditorium, so instead of relying solely on foundation, consider a short series of chemical peels. Consult with an esthetician to determine what regimen is best for your skin type and needs.
Laying the Foundation
It's the day of the beauty contest. You've allowed several hours to get ready. If it's an indoor pageant, you can forgo sunscreen, but a light moisturizer should still be used as the heat of the lights can be very drying.
The most complicated aspect of beauty contest makeup is that you want to achieve your most natural look while layering on much more makeup than usual. Seek out a foundation like Dermablend, which is becoming increasingly popular amongst brides because it lasts all day, looks natural and covers absolutely everything you don't want anyone to see. Look for a shade that matches your skintone exactly. If it's off, the contrast will be noticeable and ugly.
The foundation you use around your eyes should be lighter. This will accentuate your eyes and make them pop. You can enhance the effect with a dot of white in the corners of your eyes.
The Eyes Have It
Use a much darker eye shadow than you would even for nighttime, because your eyes will receive much of the judges' focus, and you want them as intense and dramatic as possible. The lights will try and wash you out, so an earthy, dark color is important.
Apply a liquid eyeliner just above the eyelash line under your eyes and wait a few moments to be certain it's dry. Use a good lengthening mascara and make sure it's waterproof. If you win, the last thing you want as the cameras are flashing is to be captured with raccoon eyes.
Don't just add blush to the cheekbone. You want to carefully define your face, so a bit of blush to contour your nose and chin will pop out your features nicely.
Apply lip liner before lipstick. The darker is better, because a too-bright shade makes your lips look thinner. Top your lipstick with a nice gloss.
Use a loose powder to set your makeup. If you want to get really hardcore, hold a can of hairspray about a foot away from your face, close your eyes and mouth and give yourself a quick spritz. This will keep absolutely everything in place.
Kids and Contests
All children are beautiful, but that doesn't mean children's beauty contests aren't hugely competitive. The competition can be fun, but if you have a competitive kid, try and encourage her to enter contests where she gets to actually do something, like dance or perform martial arts or gymnastics. That way, she's being judged for skill and style, rather than something arbitrary.
The experience is more apt to go a long way towards enhancing her inner beauty, which really is the most important beauty there is. Even so, expect makeup application to play as much of a role in the adolescent pageants as in the adult beauty contests.