First, there was Pamela Anderson shimmying in all her sex-kitten glory this spring on "Dancing With the Stars." Then there was the Victoria's Secret "Bombshell" campaign followed by the racy, headline-sparking Miss USA 2010 lingerie photos.
It's official: The va-va-voom look is back in a way that hasn't been seen since Anderson was a "Baywatch" beauty in the 1990s. And why not? Anderson's signature style of big, glamorous makeup is a look that's been seducing men throughout history, reaching back in time to Cleopatra's drawn-on cat eyes and the Old Testament's painted seductresses.
The good news is you don't have to be born a bombshell, according to Anderson herself. "My mom and my great-aunt have always been into hair and makeup and glamour, but I was always a tomboy," Anderson says. "And I never thought that I would go that way. A lot of my friends thought that I was the last person to be doing what I'm doing because I really wasn't va-va-voom."
The transformation for Anderson came when she arrived in Los Angeles from Vancouver and went straight to do her first Playboy cover. "They put the makeup on me and I thought, 'Wow, this is fun,'" Anderson says. "This wasn't ever 'this is what I have to wear to walk out of the door,' or 'this is what I have to do.' I'd look at photos and see how it looked better with a darker eye and bigger hair, and it became a character almost."
"The right hair and makeup make you feel more confident," she says. "Just play with it.… It's exciting, and it can be more fun than people make it."
But she does have a word of advice for bombshells-to-be: "Just know that when you dress like me and go out like that you draw attention from a certain kind of person — so be careful."
How does she use makeup to get that sultry look? "Put a lot on and blend it out," she says laughing. For more specific instructions she defers to celebrity makeup artist Alexis Vogel, who can be credited with perfecting Anderson's signature look.
Vogel's resume includes a stack of Playboy covers (including some of Anderson's), "American Idol" and a bevy of other TV, film and magazine assignments. Go to Vogel's website (www.makeupbyalexis.com) and you can see some of her other makeovers.
"I'm all about giving people their confidence and 'sexy' back," Vogel says. She has plenty of advice for getting that bombshell look.
Prep: Vogel believes in starting with the fundamentals. Eat healthful food, exercise, drink lots of water, take vitamins, keep lips moisturized, get facials every other week, use scrubs in the shower and keep skin exfoliated. "The better condition your skin is in, the more beautiful your makeup application will be and your skin will glow," she says.
And keep nails groomed with regular manicures and pedicures. "This look is head-to-toe. It's 'red carpet,'" Vogel says.
Hair: For va-va-voom hair, Vogel says the two "musts" are regular micro-trims every couple of months and hair color that brings life to your face, "And all of the celebrities do glosses," Vogel says. "It's a huge tip. Glosses coat your hair, add shine and hold your color in." Redken glosses are among her favorites.
To style, pull out the hot rollers. Twist hair section-by-section, apply a little hairspray as you go and wrap on different sizes of rollers. Keep them in while you're doing your dishes or your makeup. "Then take the rollers out and tousle the hair with your fingers so that it doesn't look like prom hair," Vogel says.
Face: Vogel, who likes Armani foundations, recommends using an inexpensive professional latex sponge to apply foundation. Match foundation to your face, neck and arms and always blend it down the neck. Apply under-eye concealer, and use a big powder puff to gently pat on translucent powder. Then use a big fluffy brush to buff off any excess powder. Smile and pat a highlighter like Benefit High Beam around the upper part of the apple of your cheeks, following with shimmery blush on the apples for a dewy look. Blend so the makeup is seamless.
Avoid a bad drag-queen look by ditching contour, unless you have a double chin or are jowly. Then, contour can "take off 20 pounds in a woman's face in an instant,' says Vogel, who recommends bronzing powder and a big fluffy brush to make areas recede. Mist the face with Evian Mist to let the makeup settle in.
Brows: "I'm an eyebrow freak!" Vogel says. "Groomed eyebrows give you your style, make you more feminine and almost give you a forehead lift." To get the look, brush brows toward your nose and trim the edges. Then brush them back into place. Clean up the underneath part with tweezers, give a little arch, but don't over pluck. Add a shimmer powder (light gold or light icy pink, for example) under the arch but not too close to the nose. Fill in brows with an eyebrow pencil that matches the lowlights in your hair (blondes can go darker). Finish with brow gel for beautiful staying power.