My Aubergine troupe mates and other belly dancers often compliment me on my eye makeup style, and ask how it’s done. I’ve been promising a tutorial for a while. Here it is!
I’m completely self trained at makeup, learning what I can from other dancers, the internet, and my background as a visual artist. So this certainly isn’t the only way or the “right” way to do this…but it’s pretty easy, and seems to get good results that lots of people respond positively to.
Step 1. I like to start with a completely bare face, and do my eye makeup before foundation- so that I don’t need to worry about eye shadow spills ruining my foundation. Apply a piece of ordinary scotch tape to the outside corner of your eye, at an angle. (If you’re worried about pulling it off your sensitive skin later, you can minimize the tape’s stickyness a bit by first pressing the tape to a towel or your clothing). Some people also like to put eye makeup primer on their eyelid and brow bone area to help their eye shadow stick. I haven’t found this makes a difference on my skin type, but some people swear by it, so give it a try sometime and see what you think.
Step 2. Apply a highlight color to your brow bone, under the peak of your eyebrow. This area should have the highest concentration of highlight, but you can blend some outward. You can also add a small highlight to the indentation between the inside corner of your eye and the ridge of your nose. Good highlight colors are gold, silver, white, or light pink, depending on what other colors you are using, your costume, and your skin tone. For stage, I like eye shadow with some sparkle/pearlescence to it as opposed to completely matte color. Use a high quality eye shadow with saturated colors. My favorite is Urban Decay. To be completely honest, I don’t use fancy brushes for this part- the applicator that came with the makeup is fine, or a new clean disposable one.
Step 3. Choose a bright color you like. I may choose a color that matches something in my costume, or I may choose a color that compliments it without matching. I know when it comes to “real life” makeup, matching your eye shadow color to your clothing is a no-no, but this isn’t “real life” and belly dancers aren’t known for doing anything half way! Alternately, if you want a more neutral or smoldering look, you might choose a medium silver or bronze instead of a bright color. Fill in everything that’s not your highlight area with this color. Use up all the space right up to your eyebrow, and make sure you are filling in all the area next to the scotch tape edge. This might look really garish up close, and would be too much for a street clothes or even an evening look, but trust me- it will make your face hold up to your bright costume, and make your eyes stand out on stage. Use your applicator or your finger to blend the color in with your highlight where they meet.
Step 4. There are two versions of step four.
Note: If you are older, have deep set eyes (with not much space between your eye lid and eyebrow), or very fair hair, you may want to experiment substituting dark brown or even a dark shade of another color (like green or purple) for the black. On the people mentioned above, sometimes black looks too harsh, especially when you will be up close with your audience, instead of on a stage. If you have very deep set eyes, you may also want to skip the liner on your actual lash line, and just add the decorative line extending from the corner of your eye near the tape.
Advanced version: Moisten an angled brush in water, and dip it in high quality black eye shadow. Use it to draw on “liner” along your lash line, and next to your scotch tape, making sure to overlap the tape edge for good coverage. Make the liner fairly thick. You can also extend it under the outside lower edge of your eye, tapering off as you approach your inner eye.
Easy/Speedy/Shaky hand version: Using a small brush or the tip of a regular applicator, apply high quality black shadow along your lash line, and over the edge of the scotch tape. With your finger or applicator, blend it into the main shadow color. Using your finger, blend the outside edge of the black out away from your eye so that it fades out.
Step 5. Remove the tape, leaving behind a crisp edge. Apply black mascara to your upper eyelashes, and to the outer edge of your lower lashes. Use lotion on a tissue to wipe away any eye shadow you spilled on your cheeks before applying your foundation. If you have very light or thin brows, you might want to highlight them with dark brown eyeshadow. If the shape of the liner right under your eye at the outer edge looks funny, soften the line there with a q-tip, or use a q-tip dipped in lotion to remove excess.
Optional: Add glitter over your brow bone highlight.
When doing the rest of your makeup, don’t forget to apply more blush and darker or brighter lipstick than you normally would for street makeup. Stage makeup should look garish up close, but will look good on a stage and help your face match the rest of your costume, so that you don’t look washed out.