How to Get Glam with Make Up Artist Kelly Wisniewski


Make-up Artist Kelly Wisniewski

The Pageant Professors recently had a photo shoot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Make-up queen Kelly Wisniewski was on hand to make the team look our absolute best. What’s amazing about Kelly is that she took three different skin types and nationalities and highlighted each of our most striking features. Her resume includes a laundry list of pageant winners at both state and national levels. We sat down with Kelly to pick her brain on the world of make-up.

Pageant Professors: Tell us how you came to be involved in the field of beauty and pageants in particular.

Kelly Wisniewki: I was working as an artist at Saks Fifth Avenue and one of my loyal clients, Diane Ritter, the director of Mrs Arizona and Utah American pageants, asked if I would be interested in instructing her contestants on how to properly apply their makeup. Pageants? But I said yes and that was almost nine years ago!

Pageant Professors: You’ve done make-up for an array of winners on the day of their pageants. Name a few.

KW:I have had the privilege of working with some amazing ladies in the past several years. Having a client capture the crown is always great! And there have been several in many systems. Diane DeNigris (Tucker), Maureen MacDonald, and Andrea Robertson are a few of the national winners I styled for their crowning moments. They are all former Mrs Americas. I have had success at United States and Beauties of America and worked on the head shots for Alyssa Campanella the year she won California, USA. I get super close with my state winners and have remained friends with them long after their reign. That is defiantly one of the best perks of my craft!!

Kelly with some of her clients at Mrs. America 2010

Pageant Professors: What brands of make-up do you love?

KW: Well, like most artist of today, I use a LOT of M A C. Love my Fix spray! But I also like a line called ItCosmetics. I met the owner and creator, Jamie Kern at the USA pageant in 2010 and her concealer and contour pallet are key for stage!!!! Another of my favorite lines is Stila. I use to be a freelance artist for them so I got to know and love their products. The glosses are amazing; my preferred primer is theirs as well as the tinted moisturizer. The convertible color for lip and cheek is a go to item of mine.

However, for me, good makeup products are important, but technique is KING (or QUEEN)! It doesn’t make a difference the cost of the makeup if the application is applied poorly.

Pageant Professors: Set the record straight on the difference between interview make-up and stage make-up.

KW: If you are a pageant gal that has taken a lesson form me or worked with me, this phrase should sound very familiar….Interview is all about PERFECTION; stage is about PERCEPTION!

When you are face to face with the judges for interview, having a flawless complexion and non-distracting application is so important. There should always be special attention taken for the head to toe appearance. Let’s face it the cover is judged and prejudice are made. If you show up for interview looking like you could hit the clubs afterwards, you have way too much on and are not applying for a position to represent your fellow contestants! The look should be conservative, pretty and age appropriate. Also, I very seldom apply lashes for interview unless my client is lash challenged. Think work/boardroom appropriate.

As for stage, there is a very fine line between drag queen and beauty queen. This is why it is important to understand contouring and the ability to define and highlight to show off your features without creating mud. There is a balance and blending that should be taken into consideration. In the end you want to have a natural beauty appearance form stage. When you view yourself in the mirror it will look a bit too much. But you need to go there for stage lighting. All the details that you think are important are not. This is lost on the audience. They can’t see the perfection of your eyeliner, only the shape of the eye. The overall look should be regal and elegantly refined.

Pageant Professors: Why should a pageant girl invest in a make-up artist for stage and photo shoots?

KW: I know it may sound obvious of me to say this but, I know makeup! The very definition of professional is someone who is an expert of the “craft”. I have been behind the scenes for more than 8 years now. I talk with judges and coaches and directors to find out what it takes to create the best “queen” for the job. But pageants are a different bird when it comes to styling. I have seen many amazing makeup artists and hair stylists not be able to create the right look for pageants. Make sure that the people you hire have an understanding and experience with pageants. (And no I don’t mean “runway”) Plus! A professional artist/stylist comes with all of the product and equipment!

Pageant Professors: The house is on fire and you can only grab 3 make-up items…what are they?

KW: Hands down my tools come with me first!!! But I had to think about the other 2. I guess my lip colors. I do a lot of blending and those cannot be duplicated or replaced.
My good hair brushes for blow outs are also tools that are important to me.

See, TOOLS!!! Ask me about a desert island next time!

Pageant Professors: The Pageant Professors team was very intrigued by your contouring palette. What is this and how is it used?

KW: Awesome product! The contouring pallet form ItCosmetics. AND it comes with instructions. You can find them on line.

Pageant Professors: What is the most important make-up tip that you can give newcomers to the pageant world?

KW: Avoid “strange” shine on stage. I mean things like glitter (lotions and sprays on your face and hair) and frosty white shadows. All of these things look distracting and unfortunate on stage and are REALLY inappropriate for interview.

Pageant Professors: Crack the code for us on how to create a perfect smoky eye.

KW: Smokey is a term used to mean blended “out”. You can do a smoky eye in any color. I create definition with the darkest of the color close to the eye/lash line and then blend out away from the lash line to defuse the color. It really is so much easier than people make it out to be.

Pageant Professors: Do you have a website? Where can you be reached?

KW: I can be reached at or on Facebook at Kelly Wisniewski Makeup artistry.
Facebook has a lot of pictures form pageants as well as other work that I have done.

Pageant Professors: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Pageant Professors (and the world!)?

KW: If there is one thing that I have learned from my involvement with pageants is that although capturing the crown is a wonderful thing, the journey is the most important thing to keep sight of. Many of my clients enter pageants over again for the experience or because they get “so close….” I find that when you step back and take an inventory on the lessons learned whether it be how to get fit or what hair color looks best for your complexion, how to walk with elegance or maybe how to feel comfortable speaking in public, the personal growth can’t be compared to title.

It amazes me how many beautiful woman I meet, have no idea of their own beauty. Many hide behind products (makeup) that they think is “beauty” when in reality all the stuff distracts from the true beauty that naturally exists. Crowns, judges, and pretty dresses don’t define your worth. But most pageant girls already know that!!! If however you have not made that discovery, get familiar and a great lip stick. A great lipstick can ignite world peace!!! (Of course I’m making fun!)

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