Thursday, April 24, 2014

MUST HAVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS: SPRING 2014 EDITION


 
Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes Mascara

Like all gals- and dancers specifically- I use a ton of make up on a regular basis, and in general, I just love to play with cosmetics.  High-end name brands or drugstore products- it doesn’t matter to me- there’s great stuff to be had in both categories, so I try to test-drive as many as I can. Every so often, I find some that are so great, I can’t believe I ever lived without them!

This is my Must Have list for Spring  2014.


 CARGO HD PICTURE PERFECT PRESSED POWDER
  I use this power regularly and I just love it!  It provides full coverage, without ever caking or creasing, and looks fabulous no matter how sweaty I get during shows or in the course of a long day, shooting a DVD. The make up never gets absorbed into my pores the way other mineral products do, either. I was introduced to it recently on a movie set. At first I thought   was just a nice face powder with a silky feel, but the make up artist who was working on my face explained that this product was created expressly for film, so that it would look natural under any sort of lighting!  Apparently the secret to this product is that it contains powder particle of different sizes that reflect light and erase imperfections, as well as photo-chromatic pigments that actually self-adjust to any sort of lighting. It doesn’t just work for film; it’s great for the stage, too! I’m hooked!
Available online at Cargo.com, Sephora, and many department stores.

E.L.F 12 PIECE ESSENTIAL PROFESSIONAL BRUSH SET
  Twelve brushes for around twelve bucks… are you @&#%$ kidding?  No, I’m not!  This is a gig bag essential, that can be found at almost any drug store.  The quality is amazing for the price, and the assortment of brushes are everything you’ll need to create an abundance of on-stage or off-stage looks. Included are a different eye brushes, a smudging sponge for blending shadow and liner, concealer brush, an angled bronzer brush, domed blush brush, a spoolie, a brow brush, etc. Get two sets and keep one in your dance bag!
Available at most drug stores or on line.

 MAC:  THE PLAYLAND COLLECTION
MAC Playland Collection
 If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I’m a MAC whore…but even so, I don’t always adore everything they come out with. The Playland collection doesn’t disappoint- it’s utterly faboo!    The carnivalesque neon Brights are perfect for spring and summer, although   unless you’re Lady Ga Ga, you might not be too into the Playland collection's namesake, a lemon yellow lipstick.  
MAC Maleficent Collection
  Not to worry, there are five other pretty shades of corals and pinks. I like Red Balloon.  Aside from lipsticks, there are also four pigment colors, pencils, Lip Glass, and   three shades of Casual Colors, which do double duty for cheeks and lips. Even if you’re not as adventurous about your maquillage as I am, you’ll still find something here you’ll enjoy using…but check this collection out soon, some products have already sold out, the way they always do with special collections. 
And if you miss out on something you wanted in the Playland collection, there’s always this summer’s maleficent collection, collaboration with Disney to coincide with the release of the movie starring Angelina Jolie.  With eleven products including nail polish and marbled eye shadows, this is going to be a wicked treat!
Available online, at many department stores, and of course, at MAC stores.


GARNIER NUTRISSE SKIN RENEW BB CREAM
  I use this great product for my every day make up and have even used it onstage in smaller venues.   Even though BB creams have been around for a while, some gals still don't know what they are or haven’t tried them.

 “BB” stands for Beauty Balm; they’re multi-purpose products that are designed to color, protect and perfect the skin.  I’ve been disappointed with a few BB Creams that I’ve tried, mostly because they usually come in only two or three shades (Fair, Medium, Dark) and the “match” to various skin tones-including mine- always seems to fall short. The Garnier BB cream features a broad spectrum SPF 15 sun block, as well as pleasing coloring that isn’t too sheer, but doesn’t feel thick, slick or oily the way others do. This cream hydrates and hides imperfections, so much so that you can roll outta bed looking like a mess, and minutes after application look dewy and well rested. I swear by this!
Available at most drug stores and online


NARS EYE PAINT
  These little paint pots can be used as shadow or liner, and glide on silky-smooth, but stay put quite well, never creasing or fading, even during the course of multiple shows. They’re made to last for eighteen hours… but you’d have to be on a drug binge at Coachella to test that out, right?   They do last very well though, and come in really shiny metallics as well as matte shades. Being a belly dancer and all, I’m a sucker for the names of these highly pigmented gel eye colors: Iskander, Mesopatamia and Snake Eyes, though I’ve only tried Baalbek, a deep, rich, chocolaty bronze shade.
Available online or in department stores


YOUNIQUE MOODSTRUCK 3D FIBER LASHES
 Ok- I saved the best for last.
 According to the instructional flyer that comes along with this product, Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes are supposed to give a 300% increase in the thickness and length of your lashes.  I was really skeptical…until I tried it.

My eyes are extremely hooded, and that means that my eyelashes actually recede into my lids, even if I have on five coats of mascara, and believe me, I’ve tried dozens of brands over the years. I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked out in the gene pool and have many gifts: good skin, thick hair that grows really quickly and healthy teeth…but I'm kinda lacking in the eyelash department.  If  I don't  wear false lashes, you’d think I didn’t have any at all!

 I simply adore this mascara… in fact, I love it soooo much that I’m showing you a picture of my extremely hooded eyes sans any make up at all, (something I never , ever do!) except for two coats of mascara on one eye, so you can see what this stuff does- and THIS IS ONLY WITH TWO COATS!     
Spot the difference!  I'm wearing Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes only (obviously!) on the left side


 The mascara comes in a darling little patterned black patent-leather case that contains two tubes: one of a gel, one of fibers. You paint the gel on with a flick of the wand, add the fibers (again, just like putting on any sort of mascara) and then seal it with the gel. It dries quickly, and you could apply as many layers as you like.  As I said previously, I only did two coats and the difference was incredible.

Younique makes several other great products too, right now I’m also rockin’ their Moodstruck Minerals Lucrative Lipgloss in  “Luscious”, a gorgeous blue-red that is great for any skin tone, and makes your teeth look pearly white.

 I got these marvy Younique products form Jovana Johnson, who is a make up artist and a belly dancer, as well as a Younique Presenter.   To purchase, go to www.youniqueproducts.com/jovana, or check out her Facebook Page here:


Younique Products,  "Luscious" Lip Glass in the foreground

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 I test drive beauty products and write about them frequently, so if you represent a company and would like me to review your products, drop me an email here: princessfarhana@gmail.com or send samples to:

Princess Farhana
PO Box 29504
Los Angeles, CA 90029
USA





 My latest book, “The Belly Dance Handbook: A Companion For The Serious Dancer” is available here: http://www.princessfarhana.com/shop.htm

Friday, April 4, 2014

TIME MANAGEMENT AND MAGICAL LIVING FOR PERFORMERS




 Many years ago, when I was a baby dancer, I was given a piece of advice that literally changed my life. It wasn’t presented as guidance; it was just a simple statement.

 I was chatting with a friend, a well-known film actress who’d formerly been a professional ballet dancer.  When I asked how she balanced her extremely busy life- being a mom, a wife, a busy working performer and doing extensive charity work, she said,

“I make it a point to do just one thing that is good for  myself and one thing that is good for my career every single day.”

At first I was stumped.  It didn’t seem like a formula that would lead to success…especially not the kind she was having!

It was so obvious and simple.

 But then I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said.

  That evening, as I mulled it over, I realized that she wasn’t referring to simple daily tasks like sending out acting resumes, going to meetings, taking her toddler for a play date or outing in the park.

It was about making conscious decisions to enrich life and career every day.

It was about being thoughtful and taking deliberate action.

It was about taking baby steps to achieve goals and make dreams come true!

 I started putting this plan into action for myself.  If I took a walk in the morning, I’d think, “I’m doing something that’s good for myself!”  When I had to do administrative work, or go to a rehearsal when all I wanted to do was take a nap, my attitude would change considerably when the voice in my head told me I was doing something that was good for my career.

 Pretty soon, I didn’t stop at doing just one thing- it lead to doing many things, over the course of each day! 

Instead of procrastinating, I would embrace all my scheduled tasks with a sense of enthusiasm…  cause they were good for my career; and instead or running myself ragged, I began to take the time to do something good for myself, too. Whether that meant watching trash television or doing something that fulfilled me creatively and spiritually, I embraced it- I took necessary “me time” without feeling guilty.

 The whole concept allowed me to juggle a number of projects at once without feeling inundated with work or mentally taxed. It enabled me to look at life with a fresh perspective, and embrace everything I was doing in a considerate, almost meditative way, by setting large scale goals and then taking daily “just one thing” baby steps to attain them, making whatever I was working on  a reality. 

This concept can really make your dreams come true... it's like magic- just try it, and you’ll see for yourself!



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 Get your autographed copy of “The Belly Dance Handbook: A Companion For The Serious Dancer” here:


Graphics and photo by Maharet Hughes


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SMALL FRY: DANCING FOR CHILDREN


 In the past month, I’ve gotten two of the best tips I’ve ever received in over two decades of belly dancing.  They  weren’t  crisp hundred dollar bills,  large bouquets of flowers or earrings made of 14 karat gold… though I’ve been lucky enough to get all of those and more. One of the tips was a grubby Sponge Bob  pencil eraser, tucked into my belt by a five year old boy. The other was a small piece of pita bread offered by a toddler, who was imitating  the  behavior of the adults around him.

Children are the best audiences ever- they’re my  favorite audience!

 Throughout my career, I’ve danced for thousands of kids.  I often joke that most of my biggest fans are the smallest people- kids under the age of  ten- but it’s true! When I tell people I love dancing for kids, sometimes they look at me oddly… for a couple of reasons.

First is that in addition to performing straight-ahead Egyptian-style belly dance, within the belly dance community, I have become known for  my fusion performances, and some of them have been considered very controversial.  But I never  perform anything other than  family-style show unless I know for sure that there will not be children present.

Second, outside of the  belly dance world, many well-educated people still  fall prey to the usual  stereotypes, marginalizing our art as either a seductive ritual or cheesy novelty.  Whether male or female, I can literally see their  “civilian” brains  going into over-drive, conjuring up  images straight out of a  Sinbad or James Bond movie.  They imagine me doing “The Dance Of The Seven Veils” in shadowy, smoke-filled hashish den while leering villains in ornate turbans throw solid gold coins, making plans to carry me away on their flying carpets to a life of slavery in an exotic harem…yeah, right!

I explain something that probably doesn’t need to be clarified here: in  Middle Eastern and North African cultures, the movements of belly dancing are performed by non-professionals as a an integral part of weddings, family gatherings and baby christenings, and women’s parties. When they hear I, like most belly dancers, usually do shows for families, including children, their jaws drop a few inches.
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Since I am still  the featured performer in  the same restaurant that gave me my very first job  almost twenty-five years ago, I not only dance for children on a regular basis, but I’ve have had the extraordinary privilege and pleasure of seeing a good portion of my audience grow up, go to college, get married and have their own kids! It’s impossible to estimate the amount of autographs I’ve signed on paper napkins, and for years my refrigerator has been plastered with primitive crayon portraits  and misspelled fan letters painstakingly written in block letters.

Children are the world’s most pure and unsullied audience, and that goes for every kind of performing art.  They don’t need any sort of suspension of disbelief to be moved by a belly dance show, they are happy enough with a swirling pastiche of dancing women, sparkly costumes, loud music and excitement. Children simply  don’t have the pre-conceived notions that adults do, they  just love being entertained. They know nothing of sexualized stereotypes or judgments that have to do with weight, age, racial  or cultural  prejudice.  They let out wild squeals of unbridled joy the moment a dancer appears.  Not only that, because of their candor, kids will often left you know exactly what they’re thinking.

Due to  “truth factor” in relations with kiddies, sometimes the biggest obstacle for me when I’m interacting with or performing for the small set is to stop myself from bursting into laughter because of their totally logical yet completely innocent observations!  As the Sixties-era television host Art Linkletter used to declare, “Kids say the darndest things”.  Thanks to Walt Disney, I’ve been called Princess Jasmine more times than I can count, but some of the exchanges I’ve had left me laughing for days.

I remember a seven-year-old girl who visited me in my dressing room after a show one night. While she played with my finger cymbals, she very regretfully told me that she could never be a belly dancer because she didn’t have “those round things or those black things”.

  I told her that those “round things” were called finger cymbals and explained that anyone, even she, could have them because they were a belly dance accoutrement that anyone could purchase.

“ But I still don’t have those black things,” she sighed forlornly, shaking her head.

“What black things do you mean?” I asked, utterly confused.

 Rolling her eyes as though I was the stupidest person on earth, she pointed directly to my false eyelashes. When I told her that they were fake, just a part of my stage make-up, and explained how they were applied, she leaned in very close to me, cocked her head
towards the dining room and whispered conspiratorially,

“Everybody out there thinks they’re real!”

 Standing costumed in a hallway just after a show, a little charmer of about five gave the once-over to my sword partner Samra and me and observed,

 “You guys look just like genies… but with legs!”

It took us a moment to realize that she meant legs…. as opposed to the smoke rising from a magic lamp!

 Another time, a little boy ( the nephew of another dancer I worked with frequently) burst into our dressing room to visit us before we went on. Unaccustomed to seeing his aunt in costume, he  stared at our Egyptian finery with his mouth hanging open in shock and exclaimed,

 “Hey, where’d you guys get the all the diamonds?”

 And speaking of being an aunt, I discovered that my baby niece Olivia  had definitely gotten the belly dance gene.
 When she was a toddler, her vocabulary only consisted of an only few words…or so we thought. One night she shocked our entire family with her first full sentence.  As I walked into the room, she cheerfully greeted from her high chair with:

“Hi Auntie-big earrings!”

 Visiting Disneyland when she was three, we almost got kicked off  “ It’s A Small World.” As our boat floated by the Middle Eastern countries, she jumped to her feet, scrambled on top of the bench, pointed at a veiled mannequin and screamed,

“It’s my Auntie!”

 As if on cure, the ride ground to a halt, the music cut out, and a booming voice came over the loudspeaker,

“THE CHILD MUST SIT DOWN!”

 Olivia’s obsession with the dance continued to grow as she did. We’re  talkin’ about a little girl who got elaborate hand made mini-costumes for every birthday…but somehow, it just wasn’t enough.   We were spending   a cool spring afternoon together, about to go to her favorite park.  As I went to another room to get our jackets, she pouted obstinately,

“I DON’T WANNA GO TO THE SWINGS!”

   I was about to placate her the way one normally would with a four year old, but   almost had a heart attack as I re-entered the room.  She stood in the middle of the living room, completely naked… except for one of my rhinestone tiaras sitting askew on her head. Her play clothes lay in a heap at her feet.  In each hand, she held an unsheathed sword- my full-sized, heavy, sharp scimitars. They were bigger than she was, and she swung them around dangerously.

“I just wanna stay here and play dress up with you!” she whimpered.

Feeling my face drain of color, I cajoled, 

“ Ok, sure honey! Whatever you want! Can you put the swords down for Auntie?

Once, at a wedding, a little girl of about nine  asked if I was really and truly a princess.

 “Why of course I am,” I answered, not wanting to wreck the illusion.

Growing skeptical, hands on hips, she asked me to prove it.

I knew what would verify my claim. Unbelievably, the California DMV allowed me to pose for my driver’s license photo while wearing a large  rhinestone tiara. When I whipped this out of my wallet as “proof” of my royal lineage, she gasped sharply, her eyes widening as she meekly asked,

“ Do you live in a real castle? Can I visit you?”

 Backpedaling quickly, told her that when I was “visiting” California, I lived in a regular house, just like everybody else.

 Far and away one of my most cherished memories is of Timmy, a Canadian four- year- old whom I met while he was in LA with his family, visiting relatives. Timmy fell in love with me at first sight. He swooned as he watched me pass by in costume, and scrawled illegible love notes to me on placemats, which he sent to my dressing room via a very patient waiter.

When I came out to dance, his eyes bugged out of his head. He grabbed fistfuls of his own hair, held a hand over his mouth as if to stifle a scream, and bounced uncontrollably in his seat. He snatched dollars from his mom and ardently stuffed them into my belt, and when he ran out of his own money, he picked it up off the floor as well as personally soliciting it from diners at other tables, much to their amusement.

 Later in the evening, his apologetic mom asked if I would dance once more, as he’d been pestering her throughout the entire meal, asking if I would perform again.

 Of course, I obliged. When the music started, his excited squeals could be heard throughout the entire restaurant.  Making my entrance, I decided to make him feel special by draping my veil around his tiny shoulders. The moment I did this, he let out an earth-shattering shriek that could probably be heard down the block and then he yelled,

“MOMMY! THE LADY LET ME HOLD HER BLANKET!

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 Purchase a signed copy of “The Belly Dance Handbook”  by Princess Farhana   here:


Photo & design by Maharet Hughes/ Graphic Vibe LA