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Anybody with access to cable TV in the last 15 years knows the following equation: mainstream celebrity + paso doble + glittery getup = Dancing With the Stars. For 29 seasons, it's been primetime's titular dancing show, with approximately 12 million eyeballs glued to the screen each episode. That's why, prior to 2020, there was no reason to change a thing. Then, the pandemic hit.
Like much else in the world, COVID-19 flipped everything upside down for the cast and crew of DWTS. For one thing, the network employed 70 percent more makeup artists than earlier seasons — an effort to avoid cross-contamination by giving each team their own glam point person, said the show's makeup department head, Zena Shteysel.
"This season has been quite different," she told POPSUGAR (and she would know — she's been working on the series since the very beginning). "Before, we used to create the looks the day of and then present it to the couple. We'd look at: what's the wardrobe? What's the dance? What's the story they're trying to convey? From there, we'd draw inspiration for a makeup look. Now, we have weekly meetings with our creative where they share the inspiration they've already discussed with the talent, and then each artist conveys that look one-on-one with their couple. It's a big collaboration, but safety precautions have us all in our own pods in the trailers."
In a close-contact industry that's been plagued by unemployment this year, the uptick in makeup artists was a bright spot. "Normally, my team is made up of eight artists and two body-makeup artists who just focus on the body, making sure any bruises or tattoos are covered if need be and do the body glow our show is famous for," she said. "But because of COVID and having to keep to our pods, we've employed 17 artists. It's really cool."
Even still, there is plenty of makeup magic to go around behind the scenes. Here, Shteysel is dishing on the show's biggest beauty secrets, from spray tans that take place every Sunday to drawn-on abs and more — because there are some things that will never change.