“You Can Look Good & Be Good At Basketball.” The SC Gamecocks On Beauty & Buckets

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.
If you were ever under the impression that women athletes would forgo regular manicures and makeup before hitting the court—think again. 
Throughout their 2024 season, which led to a historic championship win against the Iowa Hawkeyes, South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball team were admired not only for their skills on the court, but also their gametime glam. 
From fresh manis, to flowy textured ponytails and fluttery lashes, these young women have certainly made one thing clear: You don’t have to compromise your beauty rituals for buckets. And sports fans, both new and old, are taking note. 
According to Google, March 2024 marked an all-time high for search interest in women's basketball. "The reigning national champions [from South Carolina] are no exception to the data trend,” shares Google search trends analyst Annanya Raghavan. 
So it comes as no surprise that the beauty industry is diving into the world of women’s sports. 
Beauty brands need to seize this opportunity to go all out on women’s sports,” Gamecocks women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley shares with R29. “My players wear nails, lashes, and makeup, it’s so important to them. More than ever female athletes have the platforms that can support the beauty industry, similar to entertainers and other influencers, so why not? If you look good you play good!” 
Among the beauty giants who’ve understood the assignment? None other than MAC Cosmetics
The OG makeup brand—alongside artists Fatima Thomas, Raven Fluharty, Mike Osborne, and Paulmer “PJ” James—recently joined a few of the players at the Pynk Butterfly Salon in Columbia, SC to get the team ready for the annual Gamecock Gala. Here, R29 spoke to five players about the role beauty plays in their lives, both on and off the court. 
Guard, #23
“People look at a sport like basketball and think you can’t be a pretty girl and work hard on the court. So I think it’s important for other girls looking up to me to know that you can be a very beautiful girl—do your makeup, do your skincare—and still go out there and get buckets. I do my makeup before every single game, it’s like a ritual. And I always get my lashes done, and I always get my nails done as well. Pretty girls can hoop.” 
Center, #15 
“As a woman in sports, for me beauty is all about just being comfortable in your own skin, and having the ability to look good and feel good while you’re out there being active. My hair is a big thing for me. I like to have my hair done, I like to have long hair. Or if I change it, sometimes I like to have some color in there. I also like to have my lashes done—just small touches. I’m still learning how to do my own makeup, so shout out to MAC. But it’s all about looking good, feeling good, and playing good.” 
Forward, #20 
“I feel most beautiful everyday, but being a basketball player, everybody thinks you need to be ‘boyish,’ and that’s not true. I like to stay in touch with my feminine side, and I like looking good. My lips stay moist and I keep my nails done, too—not long to the point where I can’t function, but they gotta be done. I currently have a dip powder manicure, but I prefer SNS or gel—that’s my secret to prevent chipping.”  
Center, #35
“I think beauty, especially as a woman athlete, is all about being unapologetically you—no matter what anyone thinks. I incorporate femininity into my game by using my hair to express myself. Sometimes I wear it big, other times I prefer a more laid back look. I like doing my lashes and all of that, too. But it’s also my vibrant smile and my energy. I feel most beautiful when I first wake up, that’s the most raw version of myself—fresh out of the bed. I think how you feel about yourself in the morning can really affect your whole day, so I look in the mirror every day and tell myself that I’m beautiful.” 
Forward, #21
“I always try to feel best before a game—if you look good, you play good. People think you can’t wear makeup to play, or you can’t get your nails done or lashes done, but you can do it all. And we know what works. After our games, my makeup is still on, even through all the sweat and movement—I actually feel most beautiful when I’m playing. You can look good and be good at basketball.”   
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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