The official Miss USA pageant will and broadcasting live from Las Vegas tomorrow! Why do I care about watching a bunch of girls pose on stage in gowns and bikinis, you ask? Because a few months ago, I was going for the Miss New York USA crown, in hopes that I would be the one representing the Empire State on that very stage. (No dice, as I'm sure you already figured out, but hey, it was an unbelievable and fun experience!)
Let me start by saying, the amount of time, money and preparation that goes into getting ready for a pageant is uncanny. You have to step up your work out routine big time, perfect your cat walk and prepare answers for every possible interview question. Then you have to buy an evening gown, a stunning new interview outfit, new shoes, makeup, jewelry, a pageant coach (yeah...I skipped that step.) Pageantry is not a cheap or easy sport!
But if you're going to enter a beauty pageant, it's important to remember that it is a beauty pageant after all. You have to be willing to give it your all and do everything you can to look your very best. But that doesn't mean you have to break the bank on your beauty regimen. As a 24-year-old trying to make it as a writer, I had to find ways to measure up on the big Miss New York stage without blowing through my savings.
Whether you're thinking about entering a pageant or just curious about the behind-the-scenes preparation, here are five of my favorite pageant girl beauty must-haves that help you feel and look your best on stage. Ready for the best part? They're all drugstore buys under $25!
Broadway Nails Real Life Petites Real Short Pink Glue-On Nail Kit Petite Length
$6.49 by Broadway Nails at Walgreens
On pageant weekend, you are moving around non-stop. Hours of rehearsals, hair curling and getting glammed up multiple times a day is not only tiring, but it really takes a toll on your manicure. Having chipped nails on stage—or even worse, when you're shaking hands with the judges for your interview—is a big pageant no-no. That's why I love these glue-on tips. Not only are they far more wallet-friendly than a salon mani or tip set, but they won't chip on you, and the french manicure looks totally natural. Every time I wear these, someone always tells me how great my nails look—one girl even asked me where I get my nails done! (She was in awe when I told her "CVS".) The petite size (above) is perfect for girls with tiny nails and short nail beds like mine.
Here's a tip: Bring the little bottle of nail glue and the extra nails that come in the package with you to the dressing room, just in case a nail pops off before you hit the stage!
Ardell Fashion Lashes Strip - Black (105)
$3.69 by Ardell at Target
Even though the judges are looking for "natural beauty", don't be afraid of false eyelashes! They accentuate what you already have, which is extremely important when you're up in the limelight, trying to shine brighter than the girl in front of you. The Adrell Fashion Lashes are my favorite brand—they brighten up your eyes without looking fake and tacky. The package comes with glue and an applicator to help you press them on just right. I will suggest, however, practicing putting them on a few times before pageant weekend because they do take some getting used to. Going for only $3.69, I also love the price!
Teeth Whitening Strips
Crest 3D White Whitestrips Vivid - 15 Count
$24.99 at Target
Smiling is one of the single most important things to remember when you're in a beauty pageant. You need to look like you're having fun up on the stage, or the judges will ask themselves why you're there—in which case, say goodbye to the crown and sash! A few weeks prior to the competition, get your smile pageant ready with some teeth whitening strips. When you know your pearly whites are in tiptop shape, you'll feel that much more confident and you'll want to smile more!
While my roommate and I did our hair and makeup before each night's competition, we'd both put on last minute Crest Whitestrips—that way, we both couldn't talk at the same time, and we'd feel like our smiles were a few watts brighter.
Jergens Natural Glow Foaming Daily Moisturizer, Fair to Medium Skin Tones
$8.49 by Jergens at drugstore.com
You can pass up dessert and do fifty sets of crunches a day, but I know I don't feel totally swimsuit ready unless I have a great tan. The Miss New York USA Pageant began the day after Thanksgiving (I know, a sick joke, right?!) so naturally, my skin was a pretty bright shade of pale. I knew I needed to get some color, but I refuse to fake-'n-bake in a tanning bed because I'm petrified of wrinkles and cancer. A spray tan is another option, but those can be pretty pricey—and pretty scary, unless they're done well.
This tinted foaming moisturizer by Jergens is a budget-pageant-girl's best friend. After you shower, lather your entire body up with the tanning foam. I started building up my tan about two weeks before the pageant—once the competition was only a few days away, I lathered up twice a day to get a little bronzer. Jergens also makes this tinted moisturizer in cream form, but I prefer the foam because it's less likely to streak.
Hollywood fashion tape
$8.99 by Hollywood Fashion Tape at Bliss
When you're on stage concentrating on where to walk, what to say, how to pose and who to smile at, the last thing you want to be worried about is a wardrobe malfunction. Fashion tape is a pageant weekend must-have. I used it on every one of my competition outfits—I taped my evening gown to my chest, my sequined belt to my bikini bottom and my bra to the shirt of my interview ensemble. The judges want to see your winning smile and personality—not your Victoria's Secret undies.
Tell Me: Have you ever been in a pageant, or would you ever consider it? What are your beauty must-haves?