Belly Dance Make-up for the Ultra Beginner

This information is aimed at those that infrequently or never wear make-up and find themselves facing a student belly dance performance with no idea of what to do. Leaving your face unadorned when you have costumed the rest of you can spoil the effect. Not using make up for an actual stage production under lights is never recommended. People won’t be able to see your eyes and will have trouble connecting with you. I will go over a very basic and easy process to get you started. The quickest and easiest way to learn about make-up Jade Belly Dance red head in blackapplication is to go to a free make over. These are offered by big department stores as well as make up companies or artists trying to build up a following. Don’t panic if you live in a small town, I saw one advertised in Bellingen (pop. approx 2000) many years ago and that is where I started my journey into cosmetics. I bought a few items off the artist and she showed me what to do with them.

SOOooo, no free make overs available at any times or places you can get to??

Other places you can try are Avon or Nutrimetics distributors. They often have at least basic knowledge of make- up and will sometimes come to you. Of course there is always that feeling of obligation that can ensue, especially when you have no idea how much money it will all cost. Still don’t panic!! I will outline below the cheapest and easiest way to get started.


  • Eye liner preferably black
  • Eye shadow (3 to 4 shades)
  • Lip stick

Really good to have:

  • Foundation
  • Blush
  • Lip liner
  • Mascara also black

The first 2 under ‘really good to have’ are essentials if you do not have clear skin.

Now there are so many other products that are also great to have but careful use of the above will yield a pleasing result and start you on your way to familiarity as to what suits you.


Lipstick – Check with your belly dance teacher if you are doing a group piece – this is fairly likely as you are just starting out. Everyone in the troupe wearing the same shade of lippy helps give a unified look. If the teacher does not mind then its up to personal preference. A fairly nude or pale lip colour has been quite fashionable for a while now but doesn’t work well for me. I recommend a deep red as a starting colour; it usually goes well for most styles of belly dancing and most colours. If you are fair watch out for reds with too much of an orangey tone to them – it can highlight all the flaws in your skin. Lip liner should be darker than your lipstick and preferably in a similar colour range.

Eye liner – go black. Most belly dancers wear very dark eyeliner and it will blend you in with your troupe. Felt tip pen eyeliners are easiest for beginners.

Foundation – to suit your skin tone

Blush – ‘cause if you wear foundation and no blush you will look featureless and scary.

Eye Shadow – I tell all my beginners to buy a 4 pack of different shades of brown (Dark brown to a pale neutral shade). Why? Because it looks good to great on almost everyone, is available in many brands, is natural enough looking that people new to make up won’t freak out when applying it and you can use it later outside of performance.

If money is tight, ask close friends and family (that don’t have skin diseases, LOL!) if they have any make- up they don’t want or are happy to lend. It is fairly common that women will buy a product, use it once or twice then decide it isn’t what they were after and it sits at the bottom of a drawer gathering dust. It may be exactly what you want! After all – a lot of things that may be too garish for day wear can be perfect for stage.Jade Belly Dance in bellingen NSW

How to apply

Or, what do I do with it all now I have it? There are many tricky techniques you can use but I will cover the bare, bare essentials to get you on your way. Once you know the basics you will find youtube a treasure trove of help. I highly recommend Miss chevious video tutorials for intermediate to advanced users.

Apply foundation to your face.

Apply eyeliner to the edge of your top eyelid as close to the eyelashes as possible. Now we are going to extend it out to give a more exotic look. With your eyes OPEN put a small dot as to where you want your line to end – then close that eye and connect the line. If you do not the line will tend to droop down and be unattractive. See picture of me in green – the line follows approximately the same place the dotted line does in the line drawing. Don’t worry about putting any on the bottom lid until you are more experienced with taking things into account such as your eye shape, etc.

Use one of the shades to accentuate your eye brows – be really light to start with and fill in any gaps and neaten the shape. This will of course work best for people with brown hair but it works well for me with red too. The dark brown in most 4 colour sets is dark enough for most people to get away with when they are beginning. If you are really fair skinned try using the next shade up.

Use the darkest brown to follow along just above the eyeliner line also apply a bit to the crease and up a little in the 1/3 of your eye furthest away from your nose. Use the next shade to blend in to the dark brown – above the crease out to the extended line and below the crease in the furthest third. Use the third shade to blend in to the the rest of the eye lid and above the last shade. The light colour can be used to highlight under the brow and a little in the inner third to give a wider set to the eyes.

eyeshadow pic

eyeshadow pic

The line drawing here has a slightly different approach but I include it to show you the dotted line and to give you a general idea that the darkest shades go in the furthest corner. In the picture of me I have done a few more complicated things but you can still make out the eyeliner line and the darker shades in the crease of the eye and towards the outer third, with highlights just under the brow as explained.

Apply Blush on a diagonal along your cheekbone. For younger dancers you can apply it mostly to the apples of your cheeks. To find the apples just smile and lightly brush over the rounded sticky out bits! Use a big make up brush for blush application. For the eyeshadow to start with you can get away with using cosmetic tips (similar to Q-tips or cotton buds just a bit stiffer and easier to use for make-up), they are cheap and easy to get. However I do recommend getting a nice set of brushes at some point. It makes life much easier. I could not find any good brushes in Coffs Harbour or Bellingen when I needed them – just those awful foam on a stick things that I find to be of minimal use and have a very short life span. So I bought art brushes and they work well. Ebay has plenty of cheap sets from china these days too and that is probably what I would suggest you try if there is nothing good near to you. For Example a  ‘24 Pcs Professional Makeup set Kit Case Cosmetic Brush‘ goes for $13.06 AUD including postage. You don’t need 24 brushes to start with but wow what a bargain! I just looked again and there are also 7 piece sets for $2.47 AUD including postage which is even cheaper than I knew about and probably cheaper than any cotton buds you buy – plus they are reusable! &  7 is totally adequate for the newbie.

Other belly dance specific tutorials are available on Ansuya’s ‘The Magic of Bellydance‘ DVD, Meleah has a whole dvd available called “Face It” available at that covers different ages and techniques – a great resource and I believe Zoe Jakes’ soon to be released DVD set also includes her favourite make up tips. Oh, Oh, Oh, I should also mention that Bellydance Oasis magazine (its from Australia) also regularly runs articles on make- up too.

Brands to buy

If it is just for a one off performance or infrequent events then buy anything you find in a good colour. Preferably something cheap until you are more familiar with what you are doing and what works. BUT – if all this inspires you and you end up wearing make- up a lot, then it is really worth your while to buy a good natural brand (usually found in health food shops and labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘free of toxins’). Locally natural brands are available at Go Vita Toormina and Kombu in Bellingen. “As surprising as it may sound, the majority of cosmetic ingredients are not tested for safety, according to a study released by the non profit Environmental Working Group. Because the government does not monitor cosmetic companies, questionable ingredients creep into most makeup products”.

Using eyeliner as an example Avon, l’oreal and physicians formula offer some of the most toxic choices on the market. Yet for other items their brands are ok. If this topic is of interest to you then check out it list 65 000 different products in order of safety.

Overall – don’t worry to start with just use what’s on hand, then buy the good stuff when you are experienced. (Unless you have plenty of money – in which case go totally natural from the beginning!!!)

Miessence is a good brand but I did not like the wearability of their foundation. That was many years ago however and they may have improved their formula. Other natural brands include Honey Bee Gardens and Zuji. What natural brands have you tried and how did you find them? Comment below and share what your wisdom.

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