Competing in the Miss USA competition takes a lot of planning, preparation, and dedication. As Miss Kansas 2021, I was fortunate enough to qualify, compete, and make the semifinals. Along my journey, I had many women reach out with questions. I wanted to answer some of those that were most frequently asked and share the resources I used!
My Backstage Must-Haves
Click below on the links to shop any of the items I used!
Backstage Emergency Kit
Halls Cough Drops
Dry Mouth Lozenges
Clear Eyes Eye Drops
Systane Lubricant Eye Drops
Large Bandaids (For Swimsuit Competition)
Duo Eyelash Glue
Mini Nail Kit
Safety Pins (in various sizes)
Lightweight Portable Mirror
Mirror Carrying Case
Glowmotions Glow Body Oil
In Your Room
Glamcor Lights | It’s important to have good lighting so you can ensure even makeup application. Plus, this light set helps capture the perfect selfie.
Journal/Notepad| I’ve found that journaling helps manage stress, learn who you are, and remember life’s experiences.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanse and Exfoliate Set
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRX Spectralite Faceware Pro | This device was a game changer for my skin.
Bliss Holographic Eye Masks
Hair Products You’ll Love
Dyson Air Wrap |I find it difficult to blow dry my own hair, but the Dyson Air Wrap makes what would be a failed frizzy blow dry attempt a smooth glossy blow dry full of volume
Detox Dry Shampoo
Unite 7 Seconds Glossing Spray | Pro Tip: Spray down the hair shaft rather than straight into the hair—that way it refracts the light better
Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum
Hydrating Hair Balm
Heat Protectant Spray
Bed Head Hairspray| I’ve tried so many hairsprays and this one not only smells amazing, but has the perfect balance of flexibility and firmness.
Hair Comb (to brush out curls)
What’s In My Makeup Bag
Relavel Makeup Bag
Makeup Setting Spray
Patrick Ta Major Dimension Eyeshadow Palette
Patrick Ta Major Glow All Over Balm in the color “She’s on Vacation”
Patrick Ta Body Brush
Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Contour Brush
Patrick Ta Major Dimension Precision Eyeliner in “Deep Bronze”
Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Lipstick in “Kim KW”
Dior Addict Lip Maximizer Plumping Gloss
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner
What to Take to Rehearsals
Portable Phone Charger
Reuseable Water Bottle | Staying hydrated can be difficult in a pageant environment because you’re constantly on the go, but it’s so important to maintaining energy levels and overall health.
Flavor Packets for my Water | I also like to add flavor packets to my water so I’m inclined to drink more
Snacks | My favorites are turkey jerky, kale chips, RX Bars, and Go Macro Bars.
Comfortable Shoes or Slippers
I’ve shot with many photographers around the country and have compiled a list of the best:
- Austin Ryde | Austin is based in Los Angeles. He has years of experience working with celebrities in the pageant and entertainment industries. He is a makeup guru, a hair genius, and has magic in his camera lens.
Contact: AustinRyde@Live.com Instagram: @Mr.AustinRyde @RealAustinRyde
- Devine Studios | Laura and Joe Devine are based in Kansas City. Laura does the hair and makeup and Joe works behind the camera. They’re a dream team.
Contact: Info@DevineStudios.com Instagram: @DevineStudios
- Kristy Belcher | Kristy and Kimberly are twins who are based in Nashville. Kimberly slays the hair and makeup while Kristy works behind the camera. They are kind, exceptional at what they do, and have years of experience working around celebrities and the entertainment industry.
Contact: PhotographyKristyB@gmail.com Instagram: @KristyBelcherPhotography
- Grant Foto | Stephen Grant is based in Houston and is an experienced photographer who is easy to work with. You will need to book a hair and makeup artist separately when shooting with Stephen.
Contact: Info@GrantFoto.com Instagram: @GrantFotos
- Zac Grimaldo | Zac is based in Dallas and has years of experience in video and film. He is excellent in studio and also with lifestyle content. You will need to book a hair and makeup artist separately when shooting with Zac.
Contact: ZacGrimaldo7@mac.com Instagram: @ZacGrimaldo
- Carlos Velez Studios | Carlos is based in Orlando and is exceptional behind the camera, especially when it comes to post-production work. You will need to book a hair and makeup artist separately when shooting with Carlos.
Contact: email@example.com Instagram: @CarlosVelezStudios
Hair and Makeup Lessons
- Austin Ryde | I had my first makeup lesson with Austin before I even set foot on a pageant stage. He is the best at what he does—a hair and makeup genius and is an excellent teacher. I would recommend that you have a good understanding of makeup basics prior to booking a lesson. He can instruct in person or over Zoom/FaceTime.
Contact: AustinRyde@Live.com Instagram: @Mr.AustinRyde @RealAustinRyde
- Blake Walters Beauty | Blake Walters is talented and great at breaking down how to apply products. He can instruct in person or over Zoom/FaceTime.
- Ashley Renee Tribble | Ashley is experienced working around the pageant and modeling world as she was a former Miss MO USA state titleholder. She creates flawless looks and can instruct in person or over Zoom/FaceTime.
Kristen Bradford came into my life in the Summer of 2020 and changed the game for my onstage performance. I worked with her one to two hours every week from that point until I competed at Miss USA in November of 2021. She has a unique gift in the ability to teach walking. She has a kind heart and is easy to work with, not to mention she has years of experience around the pageant and modeling industries. She can coach in person or over Zoom/FaceTime. She is also excellent with interview and paperwork.
Contact: www.MissCaliforniaUSA.com Instagram: @KristenJBradford @CrownDivaProductions
- Mental Management | Heather Sumlin walked my pageant journey with me basically from the beginning. She helped guide my younger self to find her voice. She has mentored me, loved me, and helped me build the mental fortitude to tackle any challenge in life far beyond the Miss USA stage. In my opinion, the greatest obstacle in pageantry is winning the battle of the mind each and every day—and that’s what Healther helped teach me. What she has poured into me will serve me in innumerable ways throughout my life and I can’t thank her enough.
Contact: Heather@MentalManagement.com Instagram: @HeatherSumlinMentalCoach
- Crown Connections | Natalie and Jordan Williams are incredible. They help bring out the highest-level interview skills on how to lead an interview where you want it. They are excellent with current events, private interview, paperwork and everything in between. After working with them, I felt prepared to take on the White House.
- Shelly Slater Strategies | Shelly Slater has great experience in the professional world on both sides of the camera. She is excellent with current events, private interview, and on-camera training.
Contact: http://shellyslater.com Instagram: @ShellySlaterTV
- Bill Alverson | Bill Alvereson has done it all. From acting to producing, working as a lawyer, and also accredited by the NY Times and other major publications as the best in the business, Bill has a wide breadth of life experience and brings keen insight to the art of pageant coaching. He is excellent in overall branding, interview, and paperwork.
- Tavia Hunt | Thank you, Mom. I love you and am forever grateful for all of your guidance and wisdom.
Resurrect Skin MD | Thank you Dr. Jay Burns and the entire Resurrect Skin team for keeping my skin healthy and glowing!
The Prep Kitchen | Thank you to Nick and the entire Prep Kitchen team for keeping me healthy and fueled on my road to Miss USA!
Looking for more information about my time at Miss USA? Here’s a recap of what I wore!
PS – Follow along on Instagram, @graciehunt, for more of my daily life and a behind the scenes look.