The Radio City Rockettes' Beauty Secrets Revealed

We went backstage with the glamorous Rockettes, who do their own hair and makeup and perform in four shows a day, six days a week. They spilled all--from the best red lipsticks to their surprising fitness tips.
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We went backstage with the glamorous Rockettes, who do their own hair and makeup and perform in four shows a day, six days a week. They spilled all--from the best red lipsticks to their surprising fitness tips.
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The Rockettes we talked to from L-R: Samantha Harvey, 26, fifth year in the show;  Lindsay Howe, 28, ninth year in the show; Brigid Cash, 18, first year in the show; Theresa Pelicata, 30, 9th year in the show

The Rockettes we talked to from L-R: Samantha Harvey, 26, fifth year in the show; Lindsay Howe, 28, ninth year in the show; Brigid Cash, 18, first year in the show; Theresa Pelicata, 30, 9th year in the show

Photos: Ashley Jahncke unless otherwise noted

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HAIR

The Rockettes are all required to wear a French twist, which is not exactly a style for hair rookies. But they can do it in four minutes flat in some cases. And in the case of Brigid, the Radio City newbie, she had to rely on hair mentors. "I watched the other girls and pulled tips from what they were doing," she told us. There are also quite a few short-haired ladies, who do a side part and slick the rest back.

Their biggest challenge is keeping their hair sleek and neat during the show, when they are alternating between wearing huge headpieces, to having bare heads. They all had their favorite products.

While hair spray was popular--they use copious amounts of Infusium between numbers during the show--each lady has her own routine. Conditioner, Sebastian Potion No. 9, Paul Mitchell Firm and Hold Gel, and plain old water were also named.

A season of tightly pulled hair topped by huge antler-adorned bowler hats means that there are, unfortunately, some hair fatalites. "My first year I had to cut off 6 inches because I was using bad cheap hair spray," Lindsay told us. "I figured out what I need to use and we chat about how to keep it healthy."

But the biggest hair hurter? Bobby pins. They go through about 540 pins per girl each season. The pins pull hair at the scalp and can cut if the protective soft end is missing (a common Rockette complaint). But all agreed a little hair breakage is well worth it.

Rockette tip: Day-old "dirty" hair is easier for getting an up-style to hold. Add hair putty if your hair is squeaky clean.

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LIPS

Lips have to be a "true red." No trendy orangey reds, please. And the ladies all named

These are actually her real lashes.

These are actually her real lashes.

EYES It's all about the lashes! The ladies use a bit of black liner topped with brown and taupe neutral shadow, but the fluttery lashes are the stars. The ladies all use falsies, with the exception of Lindsay, who has the most incredible eyelashes I've ever seen. Theresa pulls hers off everyday, but in general a pair will get them through a week.

Mascara was a very individual choice. Diorshow, Maybelline's classic Great Lash and various MAC mascaras are popular.

Rockette tip: Use a thicker mascara brush to get a lot of volume, and a thin one to separate.

Photo: Courtesy Rockettes

Photo: Courtesy Rockettes

SKIN

The Rockettes all use foundation, powder, and blush, but none of it was caked on (oh, and they never skip primer!). The ladies all looked glowy and, well, flawless. But how do they stay that way during the show?

Tissue blotting. There are boxes of tissues hanging all over the walls backstage, for quick wipes and pats in between numbers.

Exfoliation is also very important to them. One Rockette--like every beauty editor in existence--swears by her Clarisonic. Theresa uses an exfoliating sponge every night. Moisturizer is also key. Brigid has very refined taste for someone so young and loves La Mer. Aveeno was also popular, with Dr. Perricone's Super line and Olay also getting some Rockette love.

Oh, and those red cheeks they have during the toy soldier number? They're actually little red felt circles attached with double-sided tape. If that sounds horrible, it is kinda. Two of the ladies said their skin is too sensitive for the tape, so they stick the circles on with a big glob of Vaseline.

Rockette tip: Always do your hair before you put foundation, otherwise the hair spray and other products will produce a "shiny sheen" on your forehead.

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NAILS:

The Rockettes are allowed to wear whatever

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FITNESS:

So basically rehearsals and performances are how the Rockettes stay in shape. Hydration and taking in carbohydrates for energy is also important throughout the day. Their carb of choice? Cookies. Yep, that's something we definitely have in common with the Rockettes. They also like chocolate coconut water. {Ed. Note: Yuck.}

We wouldn't recommend following this regimen unless you're doing 300 kicks per show, four times a day like these ladies do.

Rockette tip: When posing for a pic with your hand on your hip, put your thumb in front instead of in back--it makes your biceps look more toned (see example at left).

Check out all the amazing backstage photos.