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An NBA Dancer Explains How She Looks So Amazing Post-Workout

Adam Pantozzi

I’m at an event to preview a new Crunch Live class, one in which dancers for the Brooklyn Nets (called the Brooklynettes—so clever!) lead a series of dance-cardio routines. The video we’re all watching features the dancers doing moves similar to the ones they perform on-court, but the women in the video have also come out to actually do the routine with us today. A few things are running through my head: This workout is for real. I can’t wait to get to work and eat my breakfast. I look like a sweaty mess, but these women still look just as amazing as they did when they walked in the room.

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It begs the question: How do NBA dancers keep their hair and makeup so perfect even when they’re working up a sweat? I always assumed they just did a lot of primping between routines, but clearly something else is going on—so I spoke with Jessie Hughes, one of the Brooklynettes, to get her stay-gorgeous secrets. “I’ve been on the team for three seasons now, and from the beginning I know I learned so much,” she says. Luckily, she’s willing to share. These tips will totally change your post-workout beauty game.

1. Start with a Primer
This ensures that the makeup doesn’t seep directly into your skin—a recipe for disaster if you’re about to sweat up a storm. “I personally like to use stuff that’s a little bit lighter on my face,” says Hughes. “I don’t like to have anything that feels like it’s weighing on me.” She always reaches for MAC Pep + Prime Skin ($39, maccosmetics.com). (Full disclosure: MAC is the makeup sponsor of the Brooklynettes.)

2. Use a Waterproof Mascara
The Brooklynettes all use mascara and then apply their false eyelashes so they adhere better. But the mascara is always waterproof: “I love it because it doesn’t really flake,” says Hughes.

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3. Top Everything Off with a Setting Spray
Just as hairspray is crucial to keeping your hairstyle in place (see below), setting spray is an absolute necessity if you want your makeup to stay put. Hughes holds MAC Prep + Prime Fix + ($22, maccosmetics.com) a couple of inches away from her face and spritzes it on. “Early in the day I’ll use that, and I really don’t ever have to use it again,” she says. “It helps you set in everything once you’ve done your face, your eye, and your lip.”

4. Master the Poof Pony
If Hughes is wearing her hair up, she always goes for a high ponytail with lots of teasing. The idea is lots of volume on top and very sleek on the sides, with a tightly secured elastic to keep everything in place. “I’m kind of known in the locker room for giving the biggest tease with the tease brush,” she says. “We do a lot of head thrashes and dancing where you’re flipping and turning upside down, but using a bristle-end tease brush to give you volume—it will stay the entire time.”

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5. Reach for a Flexible-Hold Hairspray
You know that hairspray will help keep your strands from turning into a limp mess, but using the right kind can make all the difference. “When we’re dancing, the camera’s up so close,” says Hughes. “We want to still have that bouncy, fun look.” Achieve a similar look with Scruples High Definition Hairspray ($16, drugstore.com). “It holds it in place where it needs to be but still gives it that movement,” says Hughes.

6. Touch Up Post-Workout with a Blotting Powder
“Even though fans only see us for two or three minutes at a time, we’re constantly moving from 3 o’clock in the afternoon until sometimes 10 or 10:30 at night,” says Hughes, who says that having blotting powder easily accessible is a lifesaver. “It helps to, if you’re sweating, matte it out a little bit,” she says. “And it also helps to blend [your makeup] in a little bit and ensure everything stays in place.” Try MAC Blot Powder/Pressed ($26, maccosmetics.com); this is better than using a blotting paper or a tissue, which can remove some of the makeup you’ve already applied.

7. …And Dry Shampoo
Sweat head isn’t exactly cute. Luckily, dry shampoo is a quick fix until you can shower. “If I get sweaty, I just dump my head over, scrub some into the roots of my head, and it’ll soak up any moisture and make it look like I just blow-dried my hair in between routines,” says Hughes. She likes Got 2b Rockin’ It Dry Shampoo ($6.49, ulta.com).

Bonus Tip: Do Your Eye Makeup Before You Start Applying Foundation
Okay, this one doesn’t have to do with keeping your hair and makeup looking flawless while you sweat. But the second we heard Hughes share this gem, we knew it was too brilliant not to share. “A lot of people tend to start with their foundation, but it’s usually better if you go right for the eye, especially if you do a smoky eye,” says Hughes. Why? When you’re doing a dramatic eye, the shadow will flake off a bit and end up on your under-eye area. If you do your eyes first, then you can just wipe off that rogue shadow and start applying your foundation—instead of having to take some of your already-applied base off and try to fix it ex-post facto.

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