The elements of a winning pageant look

Jigs Mayuga

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Bone structure, great teeth, flowing hair: what are some beauty trends seen in pageants today? Beauty expert Jigs Mayuga weighs in

MANILA, Philippines – Swimwear that hugs the body in all the right places. The stunning designer evening gown. That charming answer to the tricky question. These are all elements that contribute to the success of a beauty queen, but these are not all the requirements that make a pageant winner. A show-stopping overall look counts for a lot. 

Standards of beauty are changing globally, and even in the Philippines, pageant candidates are learning to embrace those Pinay features that are intrinsic to our heritage and culture.

These features, played up with tasteful styling, hair and makeup are part of what made the Filipina beauty queens soar in the international pageant scene the past year and the years before.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the beauty looks from past queens and see how they may have contributed to their success:

The Hair

One common feature that all our queens have is long, dark hair. This is not just because we are surrounded by ads pushing this type of hairstyle to the masses; this look works onstage and on camera.

LONG LOCKS. Dark, flowing hair looks great on camera. Photo by Niccolo Cosme for Rappler

Long raven hair, when properly styled, reflects a lot of light onstage and looks exceptionally stunning in a sea of blondes, reds and brunettes on an international pageant stage. Filipinas are known for their thick, dark manes and what better way to highlight this feature by wearing hair down and straight as seen on Ariella Arida in 2013’s Miss Universe pageant?


Every queen is different, but many of our winning beauty queens have almond-shaped eyes, played up with soft, smoky eye makeup. Shamcey and Venus are exceptions to this category since both have been blessed with round and expressive eyes. But in the case of Bea Rose Santiago, Janine Tugonon and Mutya Datul, their eyes veer more towards the pretty, chinita type and are enhanced further with makeup.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. 'Chinita' eyes like Mutya Datul's can be enhanced with clever shading, or even different types of contact lenses. Photo courtesy of Jigs Mayuga

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bea Rose and Mutya, and I used a combination of eyeshadow play and colored contact lenses to bring out the best in their eyes.

The lips 

Gone are the days when full lips were not considered beautiful. Thanks to the likes of Naomi Campbell, Angelina Jolie, and Anne Curtis in the local scene, more and more Filipinos are able to appreciate the beauty of pouty and luscious lips.

Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup both have lips that are a makeup artist’s dream. For pageants though, most ladies opt for glossy, nude lips versus a deep matte shade of lipstick. It registers better on cam and lets the eyes pop, instead of focusing on the lip color.

QUEEN BEAUTY. From left: Janine Tugonon, Shamcey Supsup, and Venus Raj, with Jonas Gaffud. Image from Jonas Gaffud's Facebook page

Bone structure 

All of our past and reigning queens no doubt have great bone structure. High cheekbones are probably these ladies’ best assets. Clever contouring and highlighting for the stage are essential. 

Investing in a palette of dark shades of foundations, bronzers and highlighting creams is a must. Proper shading adds depth and lifts features to create the illusion of “perfect” bone structure with defined cheeks, temples, nose and chin.

Great teeth 

I don’t think I’ve seen a beauty queen with crooked teeth. Flashing that bright smile on stage is a non-negotiable at pageants. We all know that not everyone is born with a set of perfect pearly whites. I’m guessing some pageant hopefuls have spent years, and not to mention tons of money, on orthodontics and corrective dental surgery to create the perfect grin.

In your own skin

BEA ROSE. Comfortable in her own skin. Photo by Manman Dejeto

The most important thing I’ve noticed is how beauty queens have embraced natural tanned skin for competitions in the past years, just like in the case of Bea Rose Santiago, as seen in her bikini in the photo above. Mutya Datul, Venus Raj, Ariella Arida and Janine Tugonon are all stunning morena beauties.

The glow of healthy, sun-kissed skin also reflects more light on the pageant stage and makes curves more defined when wearing swimsuits.

In terms of body type, I’ve noticed more toned and fit bodies. A lot are showing defined abdominal muscles. as compared to the voluptuous and curvy body types of the past – but, they’re also not all size zero, model-thin (see below). More and more of these contestants are obviously embracing a healthy and active lifestyle. 

With these current and classic beauty trends seen in beauty pageant candidates, it seems like our hopefuls nowadays are looking more into embracing their inherent features and traits, enchancing them with a little help from cosmetics, exercise and proper diet – and that’s the way it should be. –

Makeup artist turned beauty influencer Jigs Mayuga has worked with some of the most iconic movers and shakers in the industry today. Jigs’ unique understanding of the transformative power of makeup allows him to create memorable looks for everyone from magazine cover girls to blushing brides. Jigs has also written for Preview Men and for Esquire. 



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