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“Hi! I’m Maddie Ziegler, and I am a dancer and an actress. I started dancing competitively when I was four years old, which is also when I started wearing makeup. By six I was wearing false lashes and red lipstick—it’s crazy. I wore more makeup back then than I do now. I think I’m so obsessed with makeup because those are some of my first memories.
By the age of six I knew that my mom was bad at makeup. Like, I’d look around at the other girls and know my makeup didn’t look like theirs. [Laughs] I started teaching myself how to do my own makeup by watching tutorials on YouTube. Michelle Phan was my number one—when I found her, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this world?’ I also watched a lot of videos from the Pixiwoo girls, and eventually started finding all different people. I practiced a lot and got good, and by the time I was eight or nine I was doing makeup for all the seniors at the dance studio because they loved how I did it. I would literally show up early to do everyone’s hair and makeup.
Another thing I used to do is steal my mom’s perfumes and wear them to dance. I don’t think I got my own perfume until I was like 10 or 11, and even then it was just something I used to feel cool and grown up. I remember my mom had Marc Jacobs Daisy and a bunch of Kate Spade perfumes… it’s a really full-circle moment for me, because now I’m the face of Kate Spade’s new fragrance. There’s still a part of me that’s like, ‘How is this happening?’ My relationship with perfume has definitely changed a lot as I’ve gotten older. At a certain point it stopped being a mindless thing—like, oh, I have to put perfume on before I walk out the door—and became a self-care thing. I want to smell good and feel confident about myself.
I have some friends who wear different fragrances depending on their outfit, but that doesn’t make sense to me. I want to be known for a specific scent when you hug me, or when I enter a room, so I stick to one fragrance. I definitely go for perfumes that are very feminine, floral, and airy—with candles I like intense, woodsy smells, but for perfume it needs to be light and bright. I’d been using Sì by Giorgio Armani for like four years, and I switched to Kate Spade when I started working with them. I still use Sì sometimes because it’s nostalgic for me, and people know that’s my smell, but I’ve been getting so many compliments on this new one. To me, the best compliment you can get is when someone says you smell good.
I feel like people don't know I have sensitive, acne-prone skin. I guess I don’t show it as much as I should. My skincare routine has been a lot of trial and error, but one thing that really helped is Sonya Dakar. She is an amazing facialist, and her products are awesome. I really like that they’re all clean and fragrance-free. I’m using her Silver Clarifying Wash, which helps clear my skin but is still gentle. I always, always use a gentle face wash. Right now my skin has been super dry, so I love to use Sonya’s Flash Facial next. It literally takes off all my dead skin in one minute. It’s so crazy. I love it. I’m getting really into oil serums, and Sonya has this incredible Omega Oil that makes my face look very moisturized. I also love this Sunday Riley UFO Oil, which I’ve recommended to everyone because it really does clear my pimples. And before I go to sleep I put Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion on any pimples I currently have. The one thing I know I need to get better at is drinking water. It does make a difference in my skin, I’m just really bad at staying consistent with it!
In quarantine I don’t really wear makeup at all. But when I do put makeup on, it’s such a good way to express myself creatively. Like I said, I’ve been watching YouTube since I was six. Obviously I’ve picked up a lot of techniques from my makeup artist Tonya, who’s been my makeup artist forever, but I’ve also learned so much from videos. A lot of my inspiration comes from drag culture. There are so many incredible makeup artists who are drag queens. My favorite thing to do is pull inspiration from their crazy, creative looks, and add little hints of them into my natural look.
I usually start with a light base, like tinted moisturizer or Koh Gen Do’s Maifanshi Moisture Foundation. But sometimes I just do Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. I always, always use a cream blush. I recently worked on a collection for Morphe, and it was the first collaboration where they allowed someone to give input on the formulas. That was really cool, because I made the products exactly how I wanted. I use the cream blush from my collection every day because, of course I do, I‘ve literally been looking for something like it for years. It’s called Wondertint, and it has an almost mousse-y, velvet texture that really looks like skin. It’s not sticky, it stays throughout the day, it blends really well, and you just need two little dots. Plus it actually goes on nicely over powders, which is normally hard to do with cream formulas. Anyway, it’s perfect. I use the Dew Bomb highlighter from my collection as well. I love to do graphic liner because I can keep my face natural, and the pop on my eyes adds so much. I can use a wet liner brush to make any eyeshadow into an eyeliner, but otherwise I’m obsessed with Suva’s gel liners. I feel like those give me the best results because they’re so easy to manipulate and so pigmented. I love a bright look.
In my everyday routine I stick to all creams. But with stage makeup, it’s all powder because that stays the longest. When you’re sweating and doing quick changes backstage, you need a good base that’s not going to move. All of my stage makeup was MAC. I remember customizing blush and eyeshadow palettes…Woodwinked was my favorite eyeshadow shade. I have no idea how I remember that. Some studios want their dancers to have a very specific look, but I was able to do whatever I wanted. Stage lights wash you out, so I usually used a foundation a little bit darker than my natural shade, lots of blush, and lots of contour. For my eyes, a classic bronze smoky eye with winged liner and false lashes was my go-to. Sometimes I’d have to do my eyelashes in a moving car, so I had to get good at it. I know some people use tweezers, but I always just used my fingers—the real trick is that you have to let the eyelash glue get tacky. If you put the glue on and just apply the lashes, they’re going to move around. I wait 15 to 30 seconds for the glue to get tacky, then I place them starting on the outside corners of my eyes and working my way to the inner corners.
Looking back on it, the only thing I regret is my brows. I wouldn’t even touch them at the time—I look at old dance photos and my makeup looks so incomplete. But brows weren’t as big of a trend then! Now I can’t leave the house without putting brow gel on. I love the feather-y brow look, and I swear by Benefit’s clear brow gel. I feel like a lot of brow gels slowly get crusty throughout the day, and start to flake off. Do you know what I mean? Or they just don’t work at all. But the Benefit one is the perfect balance. It doesn’t leave any weird buildup on my brows, and it also keeps them in place for so long. I’ve been using that for the past two or three years. The only time my brows are tweezed is when Tonya does it. She’s the brow queen. When I was 11 I tweezed them a lot—just this one time. And when Tonya saw me she was like, ‘What did you do?!’ I apologized so much, and I literally have not touched them since.
I don’t want other scents to blend in with my perfume, so I like my body products to be fragrance-free. Plus, that’s better for my sensitive skin anyway. I really like Dr. Bronner’s Shaving Soap. It’s made especially for shaving, and I don’t really know why it’s different but it’s so incredible. I read somewhere that coffee body scrubs supposedly bring circulation back to your skin and wake it up. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I bought one on Amazon and I love it. I use it in small circles in my legs, and I love that it has a natural smell that isn’t overwhelming. I take the same approach with my hair products, too. I love when you can tell that my hair was just washed—it’s a fresh smell, but it’s not heavy. My hair is naturally wavy, and underneath I’ll always have a few ringlets. Sometimes it can look literally wild, but I’ve learned to like my natural hair because I don’t want to damage it when I’m not working. Florido does my cut and color, and he’s incredible. I haven’t been to see him in so long—I have quarantine hair. Honestly, I’m just happy about how long it’s gotten.”
—as told to ITG
Photos via the author