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I’ve been asked by several readers how to win at makeup contests. I don’t think I’ve ever won a makeup contest, but I have won a hairstyle competition and costume competitions. That said, I do have some great tips for how to win at makeup contests.

Costume corset, wig, poodle necklace, hair fascinator, etc.

1. Make sure to read and understand all the rules.
Every contest is different, so some may have different requirements. It is imperative that you read and understand all the rules so that you aren’t eliminated on a technicality.

2. Always groom your brows.
Whether you prefer them thick or thin, make sure they’re groomed into place. Pluck or wax any stray hairs. You can use brow wax or brow mascara, whatever you prefer, but make sure that they’re neat or they will detract from your makeup. I personally like to fill my brows in with matte eyeshadow, but other people use brow markers, pencils, and several other types of products.

3.Always use an eyeshadow primer.
You want your eye shadow colors to pop, and a good primer will help you out. There are many good primers out there, both indie and mainstream. For some of the best performing primers, see my eyeshadow primer comparison. My favorites right now are NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Primer, Too Faced Shadow Insurance and Concrete Minerals Electric Eye Primer.

4. Always take pictures in good lighting with a good camera.
Typically a cell phone camera just isn’t going to cut it for a contest. While some of the newest cell phone cameras do have a high megapixel count, they don’t always have the image stabilization that you need for a crisp image. You need to get a good, clear photo of your makeup in good light for it to be well received by the judges. You don’t want the picture washed out, blurry, or too dark. Natural light outside is really great, but if you don’t have that, a good camera with a flash can work. I prefer Canon cameras, but many people also like Nikon and Olympus.

I was using a Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12 MP CMOS Digital Camera with Full 1080p HD Video, but now I’m using a Canon Rebel t3i 600D DSLR camera. It all depends on your budget. You need a camera that has an auto-stabilizer to help you take clear pictures. I use the Macro setting on my camera to take the up close pictures of my eyes, as you want to make sure your entry is not blurry.

5. Ask Your Friends to Vote for you!
If the contest allows it, ask your friends to vote for you! This seems like an obvious answer, but some people are too shy to ask. So you need to overcome that shyness and ask people to vote.

Now, you may be tempted to spam people via email, but I would recommend not doing that. I would suggest making a blog post, or mention it on twitter and facebook.

You can also offer to trade votes with other contestants, asking them to vote for you if you vote for them (depending on the rules of the contest.)

6. Practice!
Practice the makeup look you want to use in the contest several times until you feel that you have created it flawlessly. Blend blend blend! I have always heard people say ‘blend blend blend’ and thought I was blending enough, but when I go back and look at my old looks I cringe because I realize I still needed to blend more! So blend blend blend, and then blend some more! Sometimes it’s all in HOW you blend, too.

You can check out my Hacks! Cheats for blending for tips.

7. Props!
If you can, use props to supplement your look. A wig can help you flesh out a look. So can hats, glasses, false eyelashes, gloves, shirts, etc. Costume pieces can really add another dimension to a look and take it over the top from nice to Awesome! I really love wigs or contacts for props. Stuffed animals can work, too.

8. Inspiration.
If something is inspiring your look for the contest, have a little pic (with proper credit) added to your entry or your explanation for your look. That can help people better under and relate to your entry. If you can (depending on the contest) choose a character that you love the most. If you’re embodying a character that you love you will feel more confident and it will shine through in your look.

9. Do a Full Face
Make sure you don’t do just your eye makeup. You should also do your face, cheeks, lips etc. Even your nails if you feel that your nails will add to the look. When I spoke to a judge for a popular makeup site (Jessica from Out in a Pout) she said that a full face can me the difference between winning and losing in a tight contest.

10. Stick to the Contest Theme / Challenge
I didn’t think that this one needed to be said, but just in case, stick with the theme of the contest or the challenge. From speaking to Jessica, she said that sometimes people just submit any look, not one done with the contest in mind. It’s important to stick with the theme because that will raise your score and your chance of winning.

These are my top tips for how to win at makeup contests. What do you suggest? Is there anything that you’ve done that has helped?