Winning Look

The Top Beauty Tricks Witney Carson Has Learned After A Decade On DWTS

“I went from ‘I have to wear makeup’ to ‘I kind of like it.’”

Witney Carson has been dancing since she was three years old. In 2014, she formally joined Dancing with the Stars and became one of the show’s most beloved ballroom dance pros. That same year, she went on to win the coveted mirrorball trophy.

With so much time spent in the (literal) spotlight, Carson’s relationship with beauty has grown right alongside her relationship with dance. Unlike other sports, dance is deeply entwined makeup—how else would you expect a dancer’s face to pop underneath the drowning stage lights?—and that goes double for those competing in ballroom.

“We don’t have a rule or anything, but for some reason, whenever you compete you are full-glam,” Carson tells Bustle over Zoom. “I had a full face [of makeup] at nine years old.”

When Carson’s not in dance mode, she’s busy raising two young boys in Utah, and changes her approach to beauty accordingly. But while her everyday makeup is quite minimal in comparison to what she wears on stage, she’s a glam girl through and through.

Below, Carson talks about the beauty looks that make her feel most confident whether she’s onstage or at home.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What is your relationship like with makeup?

I grew up with makeup so intertwined with my art that it really was just the norm. As I came into adulthood, I learned a little bit more about makeup — especially since we had to do our own makeup on the Dancing with the Stars tour.

I thought it was just really fun to play with different colors and techniques and ultimately developed a passion for makeup. So I went from “I have to wear makeup” to “I kind of like it.”

What glam look makes you feel most confident while dancing?

I kind of take on a different persona when I'm dancing, so it really depends on what dance style I'm doing. When I'm doing a fast-paced, Latin routine, like a Cha-cha, Samba, or even Rumba, I feel the most confident with my hair down, curled for the most part, and a bronzy look.

Any tips and tricks you’ve learned throughout the years?

The biggest thing I've learned, especially when on camera, is to avoid looking too shiny. Powdering our faces is a really big deal because of all the lights — it's really important to set and powder more than you would think. I love my Laura Mercier Setting Powder.

In terms of our lips, for the most part, dancers use a stain or lipstick. We never use a gloss, just because we’re worried about it getting into our hair and staying there or rubbing off on our costumes or our partner.

What is one of your favorite memories from Dancing with the Stars?

When Alfonso Ribeiro and I did “the Carlton.” Everyone was waiting for it — I’ve never felt that kind of energy before in my life. I’ll always remember that feeling. Better than winning the mirrorball trophy!

How does your personal approach to makeup differ when you’re not dancing?

In real life, I'm like a 180 flip. My hair is always in a hair clip. I'm in literally sweats and a sweatshirt. I just do a little tinted SPF, maybe the Hourglass mascara, always some blush, and then just a really natural lip — I love Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk.

When I'm not dancing, I like just being able to touch my face and kiss my babies and not have any makeup rub off.

You recently partnered with Jergen’s as an ambassador for the brand’s line of sunless tanners. Is self-tanning also a big part of ballroom dancing?

I've worn those teeny tiny costumes ever since I was really young, and sunless tanner was a huge part of the makeup. I feel like a lot of people go to the UV tanning beds, and I used to be one of those — I actually ended up getting skin cancer. I'm such a big advocate of sunless tanner brands, especially Jergens, because we want to have that glow without UV damage. The Jergens Natural Glow line has been a big part of my life ever since I was a kid, really.

As a mom, I really love the Jergens Daily Moisturizers. You can just quickly use the moisturizer after the shower, and after seven days, you have a natural, glowy tan. The brand also just came out with some Sun Drops, which are so amazing. They're really easy to add into your moisturizer, which is really nice because you want to match the body and your face.

What are your tips for a flawless self-tanner application every time?

The biggest tip is to make sure you exfoliate beforehand and use a mitt to apply any bronzing mousse. You're going to want to do bigger parts of your body first — so your thighs, your arms, your stomach — and then kind of work your way down to the hands. After that, let it dry, sleep on it, And then in the morning, rinse and finish with the Daily Moisturizer.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.