Pageant Make-up Tips from Amanda Thesen

Pageant Makeup Tips
NYC Makeup Artist Amanda Thesen

I'd like to introduce you to New York makeup artist, Amanda Thesen. Not only do we share a name, we share a passion for helping women look and feel their best. Amanda was Miss New York USA 2013 Joanne Nosuchinsky’s make up artist during her crowning weekend in 2013 and throughout her year of service as Miss New York USA. She styled Joanne this weekend as she passed along her crown!

I met Amanda when I hired her to do my makeup for my current head shots. She took care of everything including hair touchups, and put me at ease while she created the look I asked for. Not only was I pleased with the results, I was thrilled to discover that she had a similar love for pageants and more importantly, the women who compete in them.

I caught up with Amanda after the 2014 Miss New York USA pageant and I asked her for some tips to help you create your look!

1. Please tell us a little background on how you got started as a makeup artist.
  • I went to school for musical theater, which is really where I started to take an interest in makeup.  I remember being in a workshop taught by one of the closing cast members of Cats.  He showed us a sped up video of his transformation into a cat and I just thought it was so amazing.  What an amazing art!  You can transform people.  I wanted to do that too.  Maybe I didn't want to turn people into cats, but I felt an urge to inspire confidence in women.  I wanted to show them how beautiful they could be inside and outside.  I wanted to empower women to be whatever they wanted to be, and I believe that starts with putting their best face forward and feeling fantastic.

2. Tell us your top three tips for pageant stage makeup:
  • Focus on your favorite features.  If you love your full lips, go for a bold lip!  If you hate your nose, learn how to contour it a little bit.  Makeup is limitless!  Learn how to use it to your best advantage.
  • Practice your look ahead of time!  You don't want to be freaking out an hour before showtime because you aren't pleased with the way your makeup or hair is turning out.  Practice, practice, practice.  Take pictures of it in different lights.  Turn on the flash. How does it look now? What about from this angle?  You'll be pleased you practiced when you look back at photos.
  • My biggest tip for pageant/stage makeup is, when you think it's enough, put on more.  You want your features and beauty to reach the back of the theater so you may need a little more makeup than you're comfortable with.  You also have dozens of hot, bright lights on you and those lights blow out your makeup.  So if you don't have enough, it won't look like you have any. 
3. What are your tips for private interview makeup?

  • Interview makeup can be a little more subdued. In interview you want to look like YOU on your best day. Again, enhance your favorite features, hide those you don't love as much, and practice!
  • You must be proficient at putting on lashes. I love Ardell Lashes. They are available at drugstores, they are inexpensive, and they come in hundreds of different shapes, and they are gorgeous. Try a few out and see which ones suit your eye shape best.
  • Learn how to contour and highlight. Contour mimics shadow so please don't put a sparkly bronzer under your cheekbones. Go matte, no red, almost taupe grey. I love Senna Cosmetics Face Sculpting Kit. Highlight mimics light so this is where you can add a little shimmer. I love Becca Skin Perfector Pressed.
  • Make sure your personality comes through in your makeup. While you shouldn't be wearing as much makeup for interview, you can still play a bit. If you're super strong and confident go for the red lip with the natural eye. If you're more the sexy, sultry type, go for the smokey eye. If you're outgoing and you love color, pop a coral on your lips. Or if you want to focus on the eyes, try plum! You'll stand out in a sea of black smokey eyes and nude lips.
4. What is your favorite beauty product?
  • My favorite pageant product has to be setting spray. Setting sprays are great for keeping your makeup on all day long. You'll be running around all day and you may not have time for touchups so this product will be key! I love Ben Nye Final Seal. You'll be picture perfect all day!
    5.  What has it been like to create Miss New York USA 2013's look throughout her year? Any favorite moments?
    • It has been a blessing working with Joanne this past year.  Not only is she beautiful, she is sweet, kind, and funny.  We have worked on all kinds of projects this past year including television, photo shoots, and events.  What I love about Joanne, is that we never do the same thing.  We make sure her hair and makeup are different every time and we usually let her outfits inspire us.
    • I have to say my favorite moment was last night at the Miss New York 2014 pageant.  I did her hair and makeup as she passed the torch on to Candace Kendall.  It was a proud moment for me.  And not only because she looked fabulous, but as I stood in her dressing room and watched her admire herself, I knew I did great work.  I know Joanne doesn't need me to feel beautiful but I know I inspire some confidence in her.  I have watched her grow personally this year and I couldn't be more pleased with the person she has become.  She is more beautiful inside and outside.  And I know her journey doesn't end here.  Last night was only the beginning.  I can't wait to see where we end up.
    6.  Why should contestants have their makeup professionally done vs. doing it themselves?
    • Last year at the Miss New York USA 2013 pageant, the girls weren't allowed to hire makeup artists for the day of the competition.  But I did go makeup shopping with Joanne and showed her how to apply all her new goodies.  Ladies, please hire a professional if you can.  If you know what you are doing with your makeup, you will look good.  If you look good, you will feel good.  And if you feel good, the judges will notice.  We know that stage makeup is different than interview makeup.  We know what products look good in flash photography.  We know what colors suit your skin tone and what shadow shape flatters your eyes.  We know if a cool lip color will make you look washed out.  Trust us!  We are professionals!  And we would love to help you get the crown!
    • If you can hire us day of the pageant, do.  Let us take that extra stress away and just enjoy!
    A special thanks to Amanda Thesen for taking the time to answer my questions. As you can see, she if very skilled at what she does and is a genuine person who really cares about her clients. Check out the following links, and connect with Amanda online!

    Contact Amanda Thesen:

    *Amanda is a former Miss Ohio and resides in NYC where she is available for private pageant and talent consulting weekly. A professional singer, she has entertained audiences all over the world and has been teaching private voice lessons for over 13 years. She helps young women define their personal brand and market themselves as titleholders. She makes herself available in Youngstown, Ohio once a month for clients in the surrounding region. EMAIL for details!

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