General Makeup and Appearance

Does your mascara miss you? Spring Makeup Challenge 2020

If you are like me, you probably aren’t putting on as much makeup as you ordinarily would if our lives were more routine and typical.  But in this era of closed restaurants and canceled shows, dancers have been hastily moving their classes and performances onto the digital world.  I simply spend most days without makeup.

Makeup Is A Lot Like Food

My calendar recently reminded me it’s time to switch mascara tubes.  Conventional wisdom suggests that to keep your eyes healthy, you should swap out your mascara every 3-6 months.  I’ve set up a reminder in Google Calendar to “Ping” me quarterly.  This 4-month reminder lets me know that the end of the line is approaching for my current open mascara.

Liquid and cream products that come close to the eye’s membranes should be swapped out every few months.  These “wet” products can harbor bacteria and mold that can cause problems to the eye. Some of these issues, like styes or conjunctivitis, can be quite painful, so it’s best just to play it safe and swap that beauty product. For me, that product is mascara.

This blog post includes information on makeup product use-by dates. 

I Keep Only One Mascara on the Go

To minimize costs, I only keep one mascara open at a time in my performance makeup kit.  I am “Team Drugstore” when it comes to mascara, so I tend to pick them up in pairs when I see the style I prefer available with a “Bogo” sale and preferably with a coupon.  This way, I always have a backup when that quarterly alarm goes off.  It’s sort of like always having a jar of pasta sauce in the cabinet. Having a backup means I’ll never run out in a pinch.

Spring Makeup Challenge

So that pesky “toss your mascara” alarm has gone off and it’s time for it to hit the trash.  I opened it in January, and I’ve used it maybe ten times in the ensuing months. It feels wasteful to just toss this in the trash and I certainly don’t want to crack open a new mascara either.  So it occurred to me that what I should do is give it one more month, and really get some use out of my makeup collection with another makeup challenge.

Challenge Theme: Peacocks and Mermaids

So starting next week, I’m going to embark on a new challenge, to pull out the purple and aqua colors in my eyeshadow collection and film some looks. Then, over the following weeks, I’ll pull out palettes from my eyeshadow collection and craft some new looks. I’ll talk about the products I own and why I bought them.  But more importantly, I’ll demonstrate how I use these palettes, so you can decide if they might work for you.

Because I’m convinced we will dance again!
But before that time comes, let’s use up some of this mascara!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
April 23, 2020


General Makeup and Appearance

January 2019 – 30 Day Makeup Challenge

Amani Maharet promotional photo by The Dancer's Eye

Over the past three years I’ve been having fun participating in an annual 30-day makeup challenge. This year, I’m tackling a 30-day Makeup Challenge during the month of January.  I spotted a fantastic prompt list over on Instagram created by Florida based dancer, Amani Maharet. I love following her Instagram feed and though I wasn’t planning on doing a challenge in January, her inspiring set of prompts convinced me to give it a go.  While I don’t have room in my schedule to tackle every day’s challenge, I’m planning on doing as many as I possibly can over the next few weeks.

Amani Maharet by The Dancer’s Eye
Amani’s feed on Instagram
(Check out that beautiful purple Assiut shawl!)

Why Do a Makeup Challenge?

There are several reasons great reasons why taking a makeup challenge is a great choice for a student of dance at any level.  Here are the 5 reasons why I recommend every student of dance, regardless of level, take on a makeup challenge.

  1. Using challenge prompts inspires creativity.  Having a list of challenges helps fuel new ways of thinking about makeup.  Often completing a prompt requires creating a look you might not have come up with on your own.  Use this as an opportunity to think about your makeup look in new ways.
  2. Encourages exploration of my makeup collection. Often we fall into ruts using the same cosmetics in the same way. In order to meet the prompt challenge, you will find yourself looking at your collection in new ways. Perhaps I’ll put powder products in new places, pair up different eyeshadow palettes, or craft new lip cocktails using my current products.
  3. Gives me the impetus to purge my products and tools.  Makeup goes bad and brushes wear out.  I find that challenges are the perfect time to inventory my collection and get rid of things that are no longer serving my needs. This is also a time when I build my wish-list to purchase replacements for outdated items, to fill holes in my collection, or for things I might want to give me more options for creative looks.
  4. Make the time to really learn new application techniques. Tackling a challenge means taking the time to experiment with your current makeup application methods. During challenges, I always make time for research into new approaches, methods, and techniques. Practicing a method for a couple of weeks in a row will give me time to perfect it.  Alternately, sometimes I give the method a good try but decide it’s not my style.  In either case, a month is a long enough period to really put a method to the test.
  5. Participating with other dancers around the web. One of the most fun aspects of taking a challenge is sharing the experience with friends locally and around the web.  You can share step-by-step, before and after, or just finished photos using the challenge hashtag. I like to make demonstration videos to share the products and techniques I am experimenting with so my friends, students, and customers can check out what I’m up to.

Video:  I made an FB Live GRWM style video.
(And WOW – could FB’s algorithm choose a more flattering cover image?  I think not!)

30-Day Makeup Challenge – Week One Wrap-Up

During the first week of the challenge, I managed to complete four looks.  The first (Lower Right) was the day 1 prompt, “Daily go-to look.”  This is the kind of makeup I put on for meetings and for presentations at non-dance events.  Day 3 was rainbow (Lower Left) and I got to use my latest eyeshadow palette, the BH Cosmetics “Take me Back to Brazil: Rio Edition.”  Each year I treat myself to one new makeup palette for the holidays, and this was the first time I ever used this one.

The top right image is from Day 4, “Recreate a look from a YouTuber,” and I decided to create a look that I did in my own 2016 challenge. This gave me an opportunity to try my new palette putting together a look I have already tried. (check out the video below)  I must say, I am really enjoying this new palette a lot!  The top left image is my Day 5, “A Color I don’t get to Wear” which is Silver.  For many many years, silver and black eyeshadow was my “signature look.”  I’m living a more colorful life these days, but it was nice to have this blast from the past.  I had trouble with my eyelash glue, and though I put lashes on, I had to immediately take them off!  I’m now on the hunt lash glue.

I’m looking forward to tackling week two of this challenge!  If you are inspired to give it try, please be sure to tag me if you share it on Instagram or FaceBook.

Best of luck in all of your makeup experiments,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 6, 2019.

General Makeup and Appearance

Makeup 2018: Inventory – Purge – Restock

Belly Dance Makeup: Inventory - Purge - Restock

I love makeup!

But the truth is, I simply have too much!  Each year in January I take the time to conduct an annual inventory of my entire makeup collection. I began this tradition back when I was a pro-dancer. The first two weeks of January have traditionally been a slow season after the whirlwind of holiday parties and festivities. This yearly makeup inventory gives me a reason to touch every beauty product, evaluate what I have, and make plans for the new year.

Photo: My “go-to” look to pair with black and silver assiut.  These are two of the ladies in my drop-in troupe Swirl on Dec. 10, 2017.  From left: me, redvelvet, and Zemira at HaflAdira.

2017 Makeup Review

Last year, I realized that my makeup collection had grown to epic proportions. Instead of a makeup bag for my “daily face,” and a larger makeup bag for my “Davina face,” I had four small bins of redundant lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush. Some of this was acquired because I wanted to try new things. However, a lot of it arrived at my home in the form of subscription services.

Why did I quit makeup subscription services?
Read “My Last Ipsy Bag” from January 2017

In 2017, my initial plan was to use up my makeup collection.  I was just going to plow through it all, not buying anything, and allowing my collection to naturally thin. Then, as products ran out, I would proceed forward replacing only products that I needed. If I already owned a duplicate, I would simply turn to the next item in the category and use them up until the category was completely depleted.  

What I learned shocked me!  Some makeup products takes a long, long time to use up!  This is especially true for colored products like eyeshadow and lipstick. While I expected to use up dozens of products last year, it turns out, I was wildly optimistic. Over the course of 2017, I only managed to finish 2 lipsticks, one concealer wheel, one bb cream, and one foundation! Most of my other products are a bit more “used” but far from finished.

Makeup Inventory Spreadsheet

This year, because I simply have too much quantity, I am implementing a very simplified inventory method. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to gather all my products together, sort them by product class, and do a basic count. I’m using a simple Google spreadsheet that I will be able to access from my phone. Having a cloud-based spreadsheet will make it easy to reference when on the go. So on those days when I’m out and about shopping and tempted to impulse buy, I can refer to my inventory spreadsheet to see what I actually need.

Simple Makeup Inventory Spreadsheet

Goal Setting

When I was setting up this makeup spreadsheet, I wanted to make it more goal-based and so I added some check-in dates. As I move through the year, my goal is to revisit my collection and continue to purge items that I’m simply not reaching for.  So even if I choose to keep something during my inventory process, if I haven’t reached for it by June, I have to question my motivation, and perhaps let these unused products go. 

How do I fund my makeup collection?  I turn Minutes into Makeup!

Makeup Purge

As I sort the products into their various categories for evaluation and tally, I like to actively purge the obvious items that, with a single glance, need to be thrown away.  Anything that has separated, grown a film, hardened over, or broken apart immediately gets tossed directly into the bin. I treasure my skin, and it’s easy for me to toss any suspicious products to avoid irritations, breakouts, and potential infections.

Photo: The pile on the table is all being purged.  What’s in the container is staying.

Check Use by Dates

This image indicates a "use after" date. This product should be used within 12 months of opening. If your beauty products are older, purge them for your health and safety. Once all the obvious problems have been eliminated, and the products have been sorted by category, I then begin checking expiration dates.  Like food, makeup does expire. Traditional and commercial products do have preservatives, but they do deteriorate over time, allowing mold and bacteria grow.  There are some standards that apply to makeup with dates from “date of open.”  Products in the US are marked with the “open container” icon with a date in months or years.  This indicates the time the products are good after they are opened.

  • 3-6 months: Mascara
  • 6 mo – 1 year:  Eyeliner if you “double dip” with gels 6 mo.  Pencils dry out.
  • 1 – 2 years: Pencil Products – eyeliner, lip liner
  • 1 – 2 year: Liquid and cream products like foundations
  • 1 – 2 years: Lipsticks – Liquid lipsticks less time, bullet lipsticks longer

All Natural Makeup  3 months – 1 year

The rule of thumb is to treat all natural cosmetics the same way you treat food.  Without preservatives and stabilizers, these products will go bad faster.  Keeping your all natural makeup in the fridge can extend the life of preservative-free products.  Be sure to pay close attention to the texture and scent of your products to avoid products that have gone off.

If you are interested in seeing some of my makeup looks,
check out my 2017 Makeup Playlist.

BH Cosmetics issued an expanded version of their iconic "Take me to Brazil" eyeshadow palette with the expanded "Take me BACK to Brazil."


This year, because I am starting the year with so many products in each category, too many, really, I only am restocking one of my favorite eyeshadow palettes.  in 2017, BH Cosmetics re-released their classic “Take me to Brazil” eyeshadow palette in an expanded format called, “Take me BACK to Brazil.”  This 35 color pressed pigment palette costs $16.99 or less depending on the day, BH Cosmetics offers a LOT of sales.  As a performing dancer, I feel like this palette offers me every color I could need.

I also invested in a second colorful palette from BH to inspire new looks in 2018. The Zodiac Palette has a selection of shimmery baked eyeshadows that I’m looking forward to experimenting with to create a host of new looks.  It will be several months before I need to buy anything else, and this gives me opportunities now only to freshen up my makeup looks, but to have the fun of playing with new colors.

Bigger Collection = More Time-Consuming Project

One of the results of having a bigger collection is the realization that this inventory is not going to happen in an afternoon!  It’s going to take me several afternoons of swatching and testing to get this spreadsheet completely and accurately filled out. I’ll be sure to share an update when the project is finished.

Best of luck with your makeup review,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
January 3, 2018

BH Cosmetics - Zodiac Eyeshadow Palette - great for making belly dance looks!

PS – I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I’m not an affiliate of BH Cosmetics. I am simply a happy customer who really enjoys using their products.  I’m especially fond of their eyeshadow, concealer wheel, and powder blushes.

If you like the eyeshadow palettes above (Take Me Back to Brazil) and left (Zodiac,) I recommend visiting their website and signing up for their mailing list so that you can take advantage of their best offers.  While I cannot vouch for every product they make, I don’t mind taking risks with eyeshadow when their prices are affordable.

But do your research. There are plenty of reviews on YouTube and on blogs across the globe. Good luck finding the products that suit you!

General Makeup and Appearance

Turning Minutes into Makeup

I’d like to take a moment to share with you a trick that I use for several years to turn free time minutes into makeup.  Every performing dancer knows that makeup plays a very important roll in their overall look. Cosmetics make the features more visible from a distance, creates an enhanced illusion of beauty and perfection, and helps to define the character of the dancer as an entertainer.

Makeup is Essential for Performance

If you’ve ever taken a workshop with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about the “Five Layers” system that I use when discussing a belly dancer’s personal appearance.  But, if you haven’t heard about it, let me quickly break it down.

5 Layers of Belly Dance Appearance

• The Body
• Makeup & Grooming
• Costume
• Jewelry & Accessories
• Props

For more information about the 5 layers and how to use this system when planning your performance appearance, check out our book “Becoming a Belly Dancer: From Student to Stage.”   

At left, my co-author Poppy Maya models a modern style ensemble using all five layers.  Her body, of course, performance makeup, classic 2-piece belly dance costume, jewelry and sleeves, and a veil prop.

Makeup Goes Bad

Like food and beverages, makeup can go bad.  Today, nearly all makeup and cosmetics are marked with a use-by date or a good after opening mark.  You will find this marked either on the packaging or on the container itself.  Look for an icon similar to this jar with a number and an M that represents the months.  The example here on the left indicates that a product should be used up within 12 months of opening.

It’s good to keep an eye on your makeup dates so you know when to replace a mascara (good for 3-6 mo after opening) or a foundation (6mo – 2 years depending on the formulation.)  I like to take a sharpie and write the day I open a product on the outside of the packaging. That way, there is no guessing how old something is. It’s good to be vigilant with dates for a variety of reasons, but you don’t want to open your self to infections by using outdated makeup.

Makeup is Expensive

Unfortunately, when putting on a performance you might use as many as 20 or even 30 different products to create a dynamite stage-worthy look. The cost of makeup will add up over time.  Even when buying more affordable drugstore brands, to have all the products you need, you will rack up a bill.  If you like mid-quality, professional grade, or luxury brands, the cost of putting together a basic kit will add up!

Minutes for Makeup

While looking for sources and methods for saving money on the products I buy regularly, like makeup. A friend referred me to the MyPoints website.  On this site, I discovered that I could spend some time every day or week to answer some surveys, to use their search tool, watch a few videos and other simple and easy tasks.  Over time you accumulate points which you can turn into gift cards at a variety of stores and restaurants.

Here are just a few of the cards available to me on the day I wrote this blog post.  Notice that I have the opportunity to either turn “my points”  a Target gift card, where I regularly shop for beauty products and life essentials. Alternately, I could trade them in for an Ulta card which I could use for both drugstore level and premium makeup brands that I love. The cards available do change and the number of points it takes to trade in varies as well. But if you go to the MyPoints website, you can explore what’s available on any given

Practice Dance While Earning Makeup?

Once I realized the potential of this site, I worked visiting the page into my daily ritual.  I put my current practice music on to remind me of my ultimate goal – building and restocking my performance makeup kit.  I use my music as my guide, putting on a 7-10 minute set, and then I simply “work” on my makeup-earning projects. Listening to my music becomes ingrained in my mind, helping me to hear and understand the nuances of the piece.

It’s not quick, but the time adds up

This is not a quick-fix for getting your kit together this week.  But I do find that I make between $50 and $75 a year in gift cards that cover my makeup and beauty expenses each year.  When you explore the MyPoints website, you can figure out what activities you enjoy most.  I find that I make a lot of points doing research activities, while other friends who use the service take surveys or watch more videos.

Here in the US, we just celebrated our national Thanksgiving. If you decide to visit MyPoints to explore the possibilities, I want to say thank you for using this MyPoints affiliate link.  Your support makes it possible for me to take the time to make helpful and informative content!

I wish you the best of luck earning some free makeup!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
November 26, 2017


Costuming DIY General Makeup and Appearance

Troupe Costuming: The Design Brief

In my last post, I talked about an assemblage hamsa pendant I made for a recent performance by my dance ensemble Swirl.  I received an interesting question regarding our costuming.  “How did you decide on these costumes and how much did they cost?”  So I thought I would take a moment to share how I use a design brief as a tool when planning costumes for a troupe.  At left: Swirl post-performance at HaflAdira. Zemira is in purple, Vakasha is in black, redvelvet is in rust, and I’m in blue.

What is a Design Brief?

A design brief is a tool used by designers of all ilk to communicate the process and scope of a design project with a client.  As a dance ensemble leader, my role is to guide the decision process.  I really like to get input from all of the members, but ultimately, as the leader, I’m the “buck stops here” person who makes the final decision.  So when I’m working with Swirl, I’m both the designer and the client.

Design Brief Questions

I like a design brief that’s simply a loosely structured set of essential questions.  These answers form the framework for completing the design project.  When working with a troupe, you need to be exceptionally clear with each of the members of the group. To keep everyone on the same page, I like to document discussions via email, so that we have all the same details about budget, sources, and deadlines.

  1. What is the “Style” of the costume?
  2. What is the Budget?
  3. What is the timeline?
  4. Are we starting from scratch, or do we have items in our wardrobes?
  5. How many pieces do we need for the basic costume?
  6. What accessories do we need?
  7. What is on the “Do Not” list of exceptions?
  8. Who are our sources?

Swirl Design Brief Answered

To give you an idea of how a design brief works, I’m going to share the answers that our ensemble Swirl discussed and decided upon for our October show. When you start discussing costuming options, it is a good idea to have some photograph examples or samples of the garments and accessories you’re considering.

  1. Our style is Ethnographic fusion, based around the fabric Assiut
  2. Our budget is flexible, but pulling most pieces from our existing wardrobes.
  3. Timeline – We had two weeks to dress rehearsal, four weeks to performance.
  4. We pulled most of our pieces from our existing wardrobes, sharing pieces within our group when someone was short of an item. I lent Vakasha an assiut panel to use in her headdress and I lent Zemira a purple silk veil. Sharing keeps costs down!
  5. Our costume was composed of black pants and bra as our base layer.  An assiut robe in a unique color within the group.
  6. In addition, we each were tasked with putting together multiple necklaces with the word “Rich and Lush” as our guide, and a headdress that included assiut, jewelry, and a silk veil.  The note for makeup was “Go Extreme.”
  7. Our “do not” was simply – Do not match.  We each choose a unique color.  We also wanted to spend as little as possible.  Each of us already collects assiut costuming pieces and owns both a black robe and a colorful robe.  Pulling from our wardrobes meant keeping our costs minimal.
  8. Because we pulled from our own costume collections, we didn’t put together a source list.  One of the group bought a scarf to use as a headdress base, and I put together a new necklace.  Each troupe member was left up to their own devices to source the items they needed.

Design Brief in Action

When we had our initial conversation, everyone was keen on the coordinated look but unique color approach wearing assiut robes we already owned.  However, the complicated headdress required time together to master the art of putting it on, and then practice to get used to dancing with heavy turbans and jewelry on our heads.  We all brought our jewelry and to the group to admire and help choose the pieces for performance day.  At each rehearsal on the run-up to the show, we fine-tuned our costuming plans until we all had our complete head-to-toe together. At right – assiut and jewelry headdress first experiment.

Learn More: Troupe Costuming Class with Sara Shrapnell

My co-author Sara Shrapnell who lead the team who put together the book Becoming Belly Dancer: from Student to Stage has created a super-affordable class about picking costumes for a troupe.  If you are a member or a leader of a dance troupe, you will want to check the course out at the Belly Dance Business Academy.  Sara includes a wide variety of styles and themes in these troupe costumes and discusses how to strategically choose the right costume for your group. 

At left: Troupe KPS featuring Sara Shrapnell, Poppy Maya, and Ekatarina. I styled this troupe ensemble with the same overall look, but using a monochrome palette of colors.  Photo by Alisha Westerfeld for our book The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut.

Swirl – Costumes in Motion

Below is a little snippet of video shot of Swirl at our last performance. You can see how these costumes move and relate to each other.

It was a pleasure to dance with these ladies, all of whom have had private coaching sessions with me and I am proud to call them protegees and friends. If you have questions, or are interested in continuing this conversation, I have a vibrant and active group of costumers and dancers on Facebook called “Studio Davina: Behind the Seams

Happy Costuming!
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
October 30, 2017

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