“There she is, Miss America…”
The 2017 titleholder Savvy Shields shared with The Post her favorite beauty and makeup essentials she wouldn’t leave her throne without during her nationwide reign.
“Sometimes, with stage makeup, people think they need to not look like themselves but in reality, the best stage makeup enhances what you already look like,” Shields, 26, said. “Don’t feel like you have to go darker or with a heavier contour to alter your face, because just warming up your blush tones or going with a deeper link will do the trick.”
And though “beauty pageant” is the traditional phrasing for the annual event, Miss America has evolved into more than just coral-toned blushes and layers of long lashes.
“I’m a collection of everyone I’ve ever met, and it truly expanded who I was,” Shields explains. Her pageantry experience, beginning when she was Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen at 13-years-old, to securing the Miss Arkansas and then culminating in donning the coveted Miss America crown, was eventful — to say the least.
“I presented at the Billboard Music Awards and was on the Red Carpet with Selena Gomez and other people I looked up to,” she said. “I spent Thanksgiving with our troops overseas and traveled to Egypt, Germany and Iceland.”
And, one of her most nostalgic memories from the road: the Auntie Anne’s pretzels in the Charlotte airport, which she said were “the absolute best.”
What’s more, Shields was actively involved with Children’s Miracle Network across the U.S., Miss America’s national sponsor at the time. “It was hands down the best part of my experience,” she said. “I was reminded that these kids have no idea what their future holds, but they’re the wisest, empathetic, strong and courageous humans I’ve ever met, and it was one of the most humbling experiences ever, to see the joy radiating from their faces.”
More recently, Miss America has completely revamped its competition into Miss America 2.0, in which candidates are no longer walking in swimsuits and are expected to focus on charity, giving keynote speeches about their community service initiative instead of prancing on stage half-naked.
During her pagesnt, Shields graced the audience with her jazz solo to Smash’s “They Just Keep Moving the Line,” the minute-and-a-half dance that led to her preliminary talent win before the final competition. And, props to Savvy, because she danced completely barefoot.
“When competing, it’s important to figure out who you are, what your brand is, and play on your strengths,” she explained. “I was never a technical dancer and I don’t think I’ve ever hit a triple turn. I knew I could never out-trick anyone, but I could outperform them by winking at the judges, making them fall in love with me and showing my personality without the cool tricks.”
Shields, interestingly enough, began competing in pageants because of her “love for dance and performing.” But, she’s always had her eye on the prize — the Miss America crown, that is.
“I’ve had my winning Miss America gown in my closet since I was 13 years old,” she recalls. “I competed in a pageant, before Miss America, that had an evening gown sponsor, so I designed my custom gown then.”
Not only custom but elegant, too, Shields’ dress was a classic velvet beauty that provided a much-talked-about silhouette when she waltzed the stage for evening wear.
“Trends change so quickly, and everyone was wearing a white dress to Miss America,” she explained. “I wanted something a little bit different that was still me and had a classic charm. It was one of the most fun, regal moments of my life — those 15 seconds modeling it.”
Contestants got little more than a few seconds to change between segments. Shields describes the experience as “pure chaos,” recalling that she practically glued her swimsuit underneath her opening number dress racing to get ready backstage between commercial breaks.
“You only have two minutes to change between each competition and you have to hairspray your face — yes, your face so everything stays on — and just grab and go,” she said. “The rush you get is unparalleled.”
What makes the rush easier? The holy grail beauty products Shields lined up backstage that were so quick and easy to use, she once achieved a full glam look in only 16 minutes, her personal record.
“You really have everything down to a science: which lipstick goes with which costume, the exact hairpins you need for each competition, and every outfit laid out for you in order,” she explains.
Today Shields’ lifestyle is a quadruple threat — content creator, artist, blogger and speaker — and, while she is no longer living her life on a stage, she still absolutely adores connecting with people, especially on TikTok.
“My goal is to help women and men find confidence and beauty in themselves through creative expression, mental health or through their lifestyle,” she shared. “I’m thankful for the career I have now and it’s been a huge blessing to work with great brands like Ulta and Google.”
Whether your dream is to be the next Miss America, or you’re simply wondering how to look your best for your next big formal event like a wedding, prom or birthday party, check out Shields’ favorite beauty products from her pageant days.
Savvy Shields’ Miss America Makeup & Beauty Products
“I used the Mac x 9 Palette every day,” Shields said. “It gave me a plumy, pretty, warm neutral eye.”
Kiss Looks So Natural False Eyelashes (5 Pairs), $7.99 (originally $11.99)
“I always used Kiss eyelashes because you could always find them at the dollar store and you’re good to go,” she said.
L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara, $8.70 (originally $9.99)
“I always used L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise Mascara,” she said. “I still use it to this day and I’ll literally wear it until the day I die — it’s my favorite.”
“The Mary Lou Highlighter is the best, and even with makeup evolving, I still sweep it on my face,” she said.
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation, $3.46 (originally $7.99)
“I used the Maybelline Fit Me Foundation because I was on the road all the time and would only have access to a CVS or Walgreens,” she said. “I laugh all the time about the lengths I would go to make sure I had my makeup.”
“I love the Benefit Hoola Bronzer for my onstage Miss America looks,” she said. “It didn’t give me a sharp contour, which I loved, because it enhanced my natural features.”
“The Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder is my go-to, forever and always,” she said. “I’ll never give that up.”
“I always loved a hot pink blush for the stage,” she said. “It made my makeup look more fun and girly.”
“The lipstick I wore during my crowning moment — which was a beautiful onstage color — was the ColourPop magenta color, which was in between a lipstick and a cream,” she said. “Now, I wear ColourPop glosses all the time.”
Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold 1″ Curling Iron, $39.04 (originally $49.99)
“I used the Big Sexy Hair Hairspray for my competitions and prayed it would make my hair last all day,” she said. “It absolutely did, and it was great.”
“The St. Tropez Self-Tanner is simply ‘the good stuff,’” she said. “It made me have a natural glow for Miss America.”
“I love Redken’s Oil for All Hair Oil to put on after showering to help detangle and give my hair a little bit of a shine,” she said.
“Toupee tape was a game-changer for me because the double-stick tape wouldn’t stay on,” she said. “It’s my go-to pageant hack.”
“I used the Sex Kitten Eyeliner because it was more like a marker,” she said. “It was the perfect eyeliner to give me a winged look.”