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More than a look

Reigning pageant winners share fashion tips that express and enhance confidence

Reigning pageant winners share fashion tips that express and enhance confidence

March 12, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Peek into the makeup bag of the reigning Miss Washington County, Whitney Colombo, and you'll likely find a special foundation and loose powder that covers an area of discolored skin near the left corner of her smile.

Colombo has hypopigmentation, a condition characterized by patches of skin that appear much lighter than the rest of her olive-toned skin.

"Of all the places, I have to have it on my face," said Colombo, 17, of Hagerstown.

But does she allow that to knock her confidence? Not a chance.

When it comes to crafting a signature look, local scholarship pageant winners say it's more about confidence and less about outward beauty.

"I think a lot of women over-think beauty," said Sara Duncan, winner of the Miss Western Maryland title on the same February night that Colombo won her title. "I think they worry about what other people think about them when it really shouldn't matter."

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Colombo and Duncan, 19, of Keedysville, will represent the region in the Miss Maryland scholarship pageant in June in Hagerstown. The winner of Miss Maryland will represent the state in the next Miss America pageant.

While they were judged most heavily on their talent and off-stage interviews about their platforms during the local pageant, the titleholders said having an individual, but pulled-together style helped showcase their confidence.

"Applying makeup is not the first step, but it can help with the way you feel," Colombo said.

Colombo and Duncan offer a few tips:

· Make makeup quick.

Despite a tight schedule of volunteer work, dance training, pageantry and schoolwork, Colombo, a senior at North Hagerstown High School, has mastered the art of applying makeup on the run - despite having a skin condition.

Her entire makeup routine takes 15 minutes or less. And for pageants, it only takes her a little bit longer, because she plays up her eyes more.

For day-to-day makeup, Colombo uses Dermablend foundation to address her hypopigmentation, then she dusts on a layer of loose powder to set it.

She'll use a bit of blush to add some color to her face.

For her eyes, she'll sometimes do the "smoky" eye look, using darker shadows near the lashes for a smoldering effect. She prefers pencil over liquid liners and likes Maybelline New York's Great Lash mascara in "Blackest Black."

"I cried a lot on the night of the pageant, and that stuff didn't run," Colombo said.

For the lips, stick with lip balm and a dab of gloss.

· Dress to impress ... yourself.

Duncan said finding the right piece of clothing evokes the same kind of feeling you get when you're dating and think you've found The One.

"It's just a feeling you get," she said.

For her dress at the pageant, Duncan chose a satin, floor-length dress in chocolate brown, a color not often associated with pageants.

"You think pageants, you think tangerine, mango and banana," she said. "I picked that dress because I liked the way I felt in it. When I tried it on, I knew it was the one.

"I wasn't worried about being different, but that's kind of what I wanted. I didn't want to look like everybody else."

For the most part, Duncan recommends steering clear of trends and goes for pieces she considers classic, such as sweater sets with a comfy pair of jeans and heels.

"I'm not a big fan of the skinny jean thing," Duncan said.

· Don't hide your face.

Also, don't do things that bring too much attention to it. That means going easy on the blue eye shadow and tweezers.

"Yeah, no commas," said Colombo, describing misshapen eyebrows.

Instead, try to maintain your eyebrow's natural shape.

Go for hairstyles that frame the face. Colombo likes to sweep her long black hair off her face, in a neat bun at the nape of her neck.

Also, pick the right colors for your face. "Because I'm darker-skinned, I'm not going to wear pale pink," Colombo said.

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