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Extreme Tribal Belly Dance Hair and Make-Up Advice

Kate Swanson is an Australian writer and dancer with nearly 40 years' experience in ballet, jazz, flamenco, ballroom, Latin and bellydance.

The tribal belly dance costume is wonderfully elaborate, and the hair and face aren't left out! Tribal fusion dancers, especially, go to town on their hair and make-up. In fact, the dancer's real hair is often not visible under all the flowers, feathers, braids, hair falls and scarves, and the face may be adorned with heavy eye make-up, tribal facial marks, or bindis.

The end result looks fabulous but it takes a lot of work - and a lot of practice too!

How to Wrap a Headscarf


Sometimes the reason you can't see the bellydancer's hair, is because it's covered by a headdress, turban or artificial hair fall.

Even if you're wearing a turban, it's usual to add some flowers, feathers or other ornaments. Let your imagination be your guide! Always rehearse with your full hair decoration at least once, to be sure nothing's going to fall off while you're dancing - apart from being embarrassing, fallen flowers and pins can be a danger to other dancers!

Make sure you do your trial run with clean hair. I've seen dancers try out their hairdo successfully in class - then on performance day, watched their ornaments slide off because their freshly-washed hair was too soft and shiny.

The clip below gives some tips on how to keep things secure, even on a loose hairstyle.

How to Get Hair Ornaments to Stay Put

Haifa Wehbe Arabic Makeup Tutorial

Eyes and Mouth

Like all stage performers, strong eye make-up and lipstick are essential for your audience to see your features. Tribal dancers tend to favor smokey eyes, but do take your own eye shape into account - too much dark shadow can "close up" some eyes, and you don't want to look as though you're half asleep!

When you're using a lot of eyeshadow and mascara, it's usually better to do your make-up back to front - eyes first, then foundation, for two reasons. One, eyeliner often takes more than one attempt to get right, and it's easier to sweep it off and try again if you're not trying to avoid removing your foundation. Two, eyeshadow and mascara can drop flakes on your cheeks and under your eyes, ruining your other make-up - so it's better to get the eyes right first, give your mascara time to dry and then apply foundation and concealer.

Carrie Moore of Gypsy Horizon

Carrie Moore of Gypsy Horizon

Tribal Markings and Bindis

Tribal bellydancers don't limit themselves to decorating eyes and lips. "Tribal markings" on the cheekbones are common, as are bindis.

Bindis can be used on the cheekbones or the forehead. Once upon a time, you'd have had to stick the tiny jewels on by hand - but these days they come ready-made, and work in the same way as stick-on temporary tattoos.

You can wear a single large bindi in the centre of the forehead, like Carrie in this photo, or you can go for a line of jewels on the forehead to match the line of the eyebrows, which comes from an Indian bridal tradition and is known as a "peer bindi".

How to Make Your Own Belly Dance Bindi

© 2010 Kate Swanson


jamila sahar on February 05, 2012:

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Beautiful and interesting hub ! thanks for sharing

NorthernEye from Etters, PA on June 12, 2011:

Fantastic article! The eye makeup video was great, too. I always have trouble with my eyes!

funky23 from Deutschland on February 20, 2011:

helpful article thx for the infos ..

Beulah-mari on December 14, 2010:

I love makeup

Aroma Goddess on May 05, 2010:

Great job subscribed to your youtube channel. Reminds me of one thousand and One nights stories and sheherezade I love the whole idea behine tribal makeup.Africa middle east or even here in australia u can see it between aboriginal people .you might like this article

mwatkins from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC on April 21, 2010:

Love the look of the makeup and the vid was so helpful! Thanks for an informative hub!

kowality from Everywhere on April 21, 2010:

I totally enjoyed this Hub Marisa. I don't think I'll try the makeup though.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on April 21, 2010:

Marisa Wright, Interesting hub! Great makeup lesson... Thank you for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

lisa brazeau from Canada on April 21, 2010:

What a great Hub...and makeup lesson!

msorensson on April 21, 2010:

I looove that eye makeup tutorial!! Thanks!!

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