Comedian Dena Jackson is ready to take stage with a bold new look—and we showed her how by teaching her to embrace the glamorous side of fashion.
For the past two years, Dena has done her standup routine in a hoodie and jeans in dark colours, whether she was performing on TV's Night Time With Michael A. Charbon or at Toronto's SheDot Festival (find out more about Dena and her comedy act at denajackson.net or @actiondjack on Twitter). But when she heard about our makeover series, she knew she was ready to cast aside her lacklustre clothes and command attention.
"Low maintenance" sums up Dena's daily makeup routine—concealer and mascara, and that's it. But Plutino Group makeup artist Jodi Urichuk suggests Dena spend some time on skin care. "She has porous skin, so prepping her skin is key," says Urichuk. She started with a moisturizer, used a primer to create a smooth surface, applied foundation and highlighter where needed, then lined Dena's lids with a matte black eyeliner. "It accentuates her eyes and makes them look much larger," says Urichuk. Blush and a swipe of vivid berry lip stain—a great shade for blonds—finished off Dena's stage-worthy look.
When Dena arrived at Marc Anthony Salon, her fine blond hair was overly layered and the too-light hue was tinged green from the hard water in her shower. Senior master stylist Julie Coupland brightened her strands with golden copper highlights—and Dena promised to buy a new showerhead with a water filter. Next, Marilisa Sears, artistic director for Marc Anthony Hair Care, cut blunt layers in Dena's hair to add fullness, applied mousse from roots to ends, then blow-dried Dena's hair with a round natural-bristle brush, holding each section 90 degrees from Dena's head to create volume. "Don't be afraid to overexaggerate with fine hair," says Sears. "If you aim for the perfect height, it will be gone by the time you leave the house."
Dena's biggest skin concerns are dryness, redness and dark circles under the eyes. Her skin-care routine may be partly to blame: just a few facials a year and a daily dose of a too-harsh gel cleanser. Amanda Lindsay, skin therapist at Dermalogica's International Dermal Institute, suggested a creamier, more nourishing cleanser, then spoke with Dena about the stressful aspects of her career. "Stress can have a huge impact on how sensitive and reactive your skin can be," said Lindsay. She recommended calming moisturizers, one for day and one for night, plus a foundation or tinted moisturizer, ideally with at least SPF 30. "This kind of product helps disguise any redness, while calming and protecting the skin."
(From left to right) Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream in Sancerre, $32, sephora.ca. Yves Saint Laurent Éclat Radiant Touch, $50, sephora.ca. Dermalogica UltraCalming Ultra Sensitive Tint SPF 30, $57, dermalogica.ca. Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volumizing Mousse, $11, walmart.ca.
Rather than dressing up for gigs, Dena has always leaned toward casual weekend basics, such as hoodies and jeans. "Comedy is a male-dominated space, and, at times, it makes me feel like I should dress down so people will listen to my jokes," she says. But she was ready for some expert guidance to help cultivate her onstage style. This playful-yet-professional ensemble, which was selected by Melissa Evans-Lee, marketing director at Bayview Village shopping centre in Toronto, accentuates Dena's knockout figure—and the tailored printed pants, in particular, are a hit. "These pants have a lot of personality and it takes someone with a sense of humour to pull them off," says Evans-Lee. The embellished leather jacket can be paired with virtually anything, ensuring that Dena will stand out.
Verdict: "My new look makes me feel comfortable and sophisticated," says Dena, "and that helps me show my personality before I start talking."
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This article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Canadian Living.
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