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Women in evening gown during a beauty contest.Women in evening gown during a beauty contest.

7 Secrets to a Beauty Queen’s Winning Smile

By: BeSeen Team

Date: January 18, 2024

“And remember: SMILE! Smilers wear a crown, losers wear a frown,” preached beauty pageant coach Victor Melling in the box-office hit Miss Congeniality. His student, undercover agent Gracie Hart, had to unlearn her tomboy ways, go through the most rigorous training, and “screw on” a winning smile to save the day. She does, and even wins over the hearts of the people around her – like a true beauty queen.

Such is the reality of joining beauty pageants even outside the silver screen. Aspiring queens undergo schooling – which some say is more rigid than the military’s – to better their chances of bringing home a crown. It is a tough job. Behind the glitz and glam people see onstage are months of prep to perfect a look, their walk, and, yes, that winning smile.

How to Get a Winning Smile   

Why is a smile so powerful? “The judges are looking for someone enthusiastic, energetic, and engaging,” shares pageant coach and former Miss California Crystal Lee. “And since you can’t have a conversation with every single judge while you’re onstage, [smiling] is your way to demonstrate that you are deserving of that crown.”

Yes, your smile can change your life. So, if you’re eager to commence your smile makeover journey stat, learn the secrets of the trade from the pros.

1. Identify your sources of joy.  

Catriona Gray onstage at Miss Universe.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray warns that people can spot a fake smile from miles away.

Think of happy thoughts! Think of your crush. Think about that cup of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows on Christmas morning. Or, if you want to take a page from Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s book, think of your beloved puppies.  

Your fears and anxieties can surface through your smile, so learn to bank on your sources of joy and smile from the heart.

2. Choose a smile that reflects your personality. 

Authenticity is what you should gun for. Sure, you’re trying to manufacture a stage-ready smile, but it should still showcase the real you. Don’t pick a smile that will box you in. Instead, go for one that will shine the spotlight on your uniqueness.

Try on these smile options and see which suits you best: 

  • Closed-mouth smile
  • Slight or half smile showing some teeth
  • Full smile with lots of teeth
  • Big smile with an open mouth

Your winning smile should also accentuate your features. If you have narrow eyes, a full smile might make you look like you’re squinting onstage. On the contrary, deep-set eyes matched with a closed-mouth smile can come across as stoic or frigid.  

3. Play around with your facial expressions.  

A beauty queen with a closed-mouth smile posing beside a column.
Vary your facial expressions and poses to showcase your dynamic personality onstage.

Variation can help you survive three hours of standing and smiling. No plastered-on smile, please! “It’s a little scary for the judges to see you onstage where you’re just smiling and keeping eye contact with them the entire time. It’s a little creepy,” advises pageant coach Dani Walker.

Smiling is a form of communication, so use it to convey your real-time emotions. Play around by raising an eyebrow, flexing some facial muscles (show off those dimples!), and switching up your smile size. Go for an ear-to-ear grin when you enter the semis, then switch to a sultry one for the swimsuit round. Save your widest smile for your crowning moment. But remember: Whichever expression you lean on, always have the corners of your smile upturned.

4. Establish and maintain eye contact. 

Never look down; let your eyes match your smile in presenting your story. “Mix up where your eyes go to look more confident and be more human – not a robot,” emphasises Lee. Don’t just stare at the judges. Recognise the other people in the room: photographers, family members, friends, and supporters of other candidates. Look out into the audience to make your presence felt.

5. Wear a complementary lipstick shade. 

Close-up of a woman’s lips wearing a dark plum lipstick. 
Opt for cool and dark lipstick shades to complement your teeth’s brilliance.

Choose a lipstick colour with a cooler tone, like true reds, mauves, plums, and berry shades. These bring out the blue in your teeth, making them look brighter. Avoid warmer tones, including coral and orange, because they highlight the yellow in your teeth. Also, make sure to exfoliate your lips (try it with brown sugar!) so your lipstick can lay flat and stay on longer.

Here’s another tried-and-tested tip that might surprise you: Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on your teeth. This can help you avoid lipstick stains and keep your smile in place for hours.

6. Practise, practise, practise. 

Practise enough times until smiling the way you want becomes muscle memory. Put in the hours to build stamina! Walker suggests doing it in the mirror to get immediate feedback and filming yourself to be more self-aware. Another terrific option, according to Lee, is to be generous with your smiles even when you’re offstage: “The more you do it, the more organic and natural it becomes – and the happier you’ll be!”

7. Consider professional dental treatments. 

Dentist’s hands about to fit clear aligners into a patient’s mouth.
Turn to orthodontic treatments like clear aligners to straighten crooked or overcrowded teeth.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from experts to bring your teeth to their optimal state. Consult your dentist for the most suitable treatments to address your concerns and make you less conscious about your smile. If discolouration or staining is an issue, ask about teeth whitening solutions. For a quick fix for cracks, chips, and misshapen teeth, veneers may be necessary – a solution acknowledged by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and many other beauty queens.  

And for misaligned, crooked, or overcrowded teeth, you might need orthodontic care. Traditional braces are an option. But for something more discreet and comfortable, you can opt for clear aligners from ClearCorrect. Yes, you can still talk, train, and smile while wearing them, and people around you won’t even notice you have them on.

A winning smile can be your most powerful asset in any competition. So, cover all bases and work closely with your dentist to get everything straightened out. Come pageant night, take a deep breath and find confidence in knowing you’ve done everything to dazzle onstage. The crown awaits!  

 

References:

Bhagwandas, A. (2023, August 2). Can putting petroleum jelly on your teeth help you smile longer? The Guardian.

Jambora, A. (2019, October 24). The secret behind Pia Wurtzbach’s winning smile | Lifestyle.INQ. Lifestyle.INQ. 

Sy, M. P., Martinez, P. G. V., & Twinley, R. (2021). The dark side of occupation within the context of modern-day beauty pageants. Work-a Journal of Prevention Assessment & Rehabilitation, 69(2), 367–377. 

Tuazon, N. (2021, October 25). Catriona Gray says fake smiles in pageants are easy to spot. PEP.ph. 

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