How Beyoncé’s Backup Dancer Stays Flawless Onstage

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Photo: Keith Major/Courtesy of Miss Ksyn

It's been five years since Miss Ksyn first auditioned for Beyoncé as a backup dancer. Since then, Tanesha "Ksyn" Cason (Miss Ksyn is her stage name, pronounced Kay-Sin) has traveled with the singer on two world tours and built up a side career as a beauty blogger. "I have a duffel bag of makeup," she told the Cut. "I've gotten lipstick in places you didn't even know." While in Atlanta for the On the Run tour, the Cut caught up with Miss Ksyn, who told us about her beauty routine, how she touches up between sweaty dance numbers, and the importance of red Ruby Woo lipstick to Beyoncé's show. Here she is, in her own words.

In the beginning, everyone’s mother wants to put their daughter in ballet class. That’s how I started. Then I started doing African dance and fell in love with that. I started doing hip-hop at 12 or 13, and then just kept doing it. 

Auditioning for Beyoncé was kind of hectic. One of my dancer friends and I were coming off the road [from touring] with Shontelle. We got off  Amtrak and were trying to do makeup and stuff on the train. I was just like, We’re going to go for it and see what happens. I didn’t have too much time to think. For the audition, I went for a clean, fresh face with a bit of attitude and pizazz. When I dance, I try to portray a lot through facial expressions, so I did a cat eye and red lip. In the last round, she walked in. I was like, Wow, I’ve never had an artist come in the last round.

She hired me and then kept on hiring me. I booked with my first gig with Beyoncé in 2009 when she did "Single Ladies" in concert. Then I went on to do the Billboard Awards and Oprah with her. And from then on, the Super Bowl and two weeks later, we were in rehearsals for the Mrs. Carter show.

I first became interested in beauty because I was in beauty pageants in high school. There, they teach you how to do a completely full face. I thought it was interesting that makeup could make your face look totally different. In my freshman year, I would wake up really early and do a full face of makeup every day.  

A typical day on the On the Run tour is all rehearsals. If it's a Monday, in the girls’ dressing room, we have something we like to call Ratchet Mondays. It's called that because we have a day when we watch reality TV we shouldn’t love, like Love and Hip Hop, and just sit and lounge around in no makeup. Then we usually have sound check or Beyoncé will want to go over things. By then, it will be time to go back and do your makeup. Everyone (except Beyoncé) does their own makeup. My beauty routine takes me about 45 minutes to an hour. Everybody else can probably do it in half of that. I know that I could, too, but if I can, I'll take my time.  

For performances, I use Oil of Olay products because they are really good for the skin. I start out with the basic face wash and use a toner after that. I use a MAC eye cream and a nice moisturizing lotion, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream or Peter Thomas Roth's Oilless Oil. To make my makeup last, I always start out with a Bare Minerals matte primer. I use matte because you’re going to sweat, so you will look dewy anyway. If I use primer, my makeup will last the duration of a show. When I don’t use it, [my my makeup] gets oilier quicker and doesn't last. 

For On the Run, they gave us a bit of a direction and want us to be somewhat uniform. We started doing the cat eye with the red lip for uniformity, sort of recalling those Robert Palmer girls. For the show, we’ve been using MAC's classic red lipstick Ruby Woo. And some of us combine Ruby Woo with Cyber to get a Bordeaux color. Some of us just use Cyber or Lady Danger. But we consistently have Ruby Woo in our bags. For some reason, it just looks good on everyone. 

I also use a Lancôme foundation that’s really light and full coverage. I highlight and contour based off of what it is I want to do. In a stadium, highlight and contour are necessary so your face doesn’t look flat. I use MAC Studio Tech for highlighting; it’s a shade lighter than if I were using their foundation. I use Black Opal stick foundation to contour. I set under my eyes with Ben Nye Banana Powder and finish with a matte spray. My eyebrows are sisters and not twins; one has a better arch. I use Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade for them. I like it since it’s technically waterproof. And then I go ahead and do whatever eye look I want to do. For this tour, it’s been very much a neutral eye with a cat liner. 

When I come off a number, I take a facial tissue and pat for touch-ups; I don’t rub because it will smudge it. I try not to do very much because you don’t want to cake it. But makeup is important because in the industry, it's your symbol, it's a way to represent yourself. When you go to ballet or live theater, if you were to see a performer without makeup, you may not be able to get an idea of the character. When you see a person under lights, if their makeup is flawless, it just has a different feel. It adds to the character.