The thing about Christmas parties is that many of them either take place during daylight hours, often in the presence of your boss or certain conservative family members, or require a degree of anticipatory party prep, because frankly, you’ve got a LOT on your plate (literally) at this time of year. Getting up at sparrow's fart to achieve the perfect contour ain’t happening, and that emerald eyeshadow feels more than a little overpowering for the next door neighbour’s drinks thing which you’re heading to via Morrison’s. For cool and semi-casual beauty looks with an ‘I made an effort’ twist, come right this way. There’s no faff, just festivity, and they can all be tweaked to up the twinkle factor when night falls.
First things first…
Sort your base and you’ll sail flawlessly from office to last minute shopping dash to dinner. Do dewy if you love that look, but for an instantly camera ready canvas, no matter how little sleep or sensible behaviour you’ve partaken in, Hylamide Photography Foundation , £18, helps a sister out every time. It blurs away blotchiness and prominent pores without the strange grey or dull finish that some skin smoothing primers leave behind; think radiance and luminosity rather than powdery matte effect. I like to mix the Transparent version with a little moisturiser for especially supple, plumped skin, but if you’re craving a glow in these dark days, opt for the Golden or Dark Tan formulations.
If you’re a fan of ‘barefaced but ever so slightly better’ skin, leave it there, but if even and immaculate is more your vibe, Laura Mercier Silk Crème Photo Edition Foundation , £35, is a season of goodwill genie in a bottle. It takes tired, wan and forlorn festive skin and injects it with life and light; it’s hands down one of my favourite makeup launches of 2015. Available in both a moisturising and an oil-free version, both formulas feel nourishing without being slick or thick, and the finish is a highly coveted blend of natural yet polished. It promises to make you look your best at special occasions and stick around loyally for 12 hours or more, and it succeeds on both counts. You may require a tiny bit of concealer to cover more volcanic blemish eruptions, but otherwise, Photo Edition is tough to fault. #NoFilter comes to mind.
Brick red lip + messy hair, don’t care
A classic, Rudolph red lip never dates, but to make it a little more cutting edge and unexpected, choose a moodier or rustier hue. Channel Donna Karan and Acne Studios with a matte terracotta tinted mouth; if you don’t want to stray too far from the traditional, L’Oréal Color Riche Collection Exclusive in Eva’s Red , £6.99, is warm without being too orange, and the texture is velvety yet non-chalky. Whether it’s the fiery colour, the clever pigment spheres or the moisturising jojoba oils within the formula, once applied the lipstick somehow gives off a bit of a glow, which is more than welcome at this time of year.
Take another cue from the catwalk by teaming a statement off-red lip with artfully undone hair. Fast and loose is the idea; achieve flowing, imperfect waves by following Charles Worthington Art Team Director Marc Trinder’s steps to mussed up mastery:
1. First prep the hair by smoothing through lengths with a bristle brush to achieve a smooth, manageable finish throughout.
2. Mist hair lightly with a brush-out hairspray.
3. Next wave the hair by starting underneath ( ( ghd Curve Soft Curl Tong , £120, is the ideal weapon for this), taking vertical sections of hair and placing the tong at a slight diagonal tilt forward, twisting hair around the barrel and holding the ends in place before closing the plate of the tong.
4. Hold for 5-10 seconds per section and allow to cool before moving on to the next section.
5. Continue up the head on each side and wave the hair forwards towards the face, ensuring that each side is waved in the same direction; this is important for the brush out part coming up...
6. Run a wide tooth comb through the hair from root to tip- the waves will join together. Don't forget to comb through the underneath sections too.
7. Use a strong hold spray to finish, sculpting and moulding around the face in particular and spritzing at the roots to hold.
8. Finish with a light coating of shine spray.
For afro hair, keep your prep low key and as close to effortless as possible by heeding the sage advice of a few natural style specialists . If it’s not Christmas in your household without an updo outing, a loose, low chignon, or on the flipside a tousled topknot, will offset a bold lip beautifully. Twist and twirl sections and secure loosely with kirby grips as at Armani, precede a ponytail with a chunky twist as Sam McKnight did at Fendi or chuck it into a half up-half down hipster bun. The key element is that it looks a bit rough and ready round the edges and is slightly off kilter in an elegant kind of way. For even more intrigue, pair haphazard hair and russet lips with just the one jazzy earring. Not as Jack Sparrow as it sounds, I promise you.
Subtle smokey eye + sleek, simple hair
A smokey eye needn’t be try hard, as makeup artist and Burberry Artistic Consultant Wendy Rowe consistently proves with her smudgy, ‘organic’ takes on the party classic (particularly well executed on the AW15 catwalks). Forgo thick blocks of opaque black for sheer washes grey, khaki and brown, blending colour out with a fluffy brush and taking a ‘softly softly’ approach to liner. Considerately, Wendy and the Burberry team have essentially provided a ‘paint by numbers’ palette to achieving the look, and while it may not appear particularly (*at all) festive, the flattering shade spectrum will carry you through pared down and prim occasions. The palette design was inspired by the Burberry Bucket Bag in camouflage suede, so in my mind it’s the next best thing to treating yourself to one of those for Christmas. It’s certainly as wearable, and you needn’t worry about leaving it on the bus.
If a veil of smoke isn’t flash enough for the festivities you have in mind, add drama via eyelashes. Sooty Max Factor Velvet Volume False Lash Effect Mascara , £11.99, can be reapplied during the day to intensify lashes, leaving lashes soft with every coat rather than crunchy. For even more flutter, makeup artist and founder of MY-Management Lee Pycroft has a strategy for speedy party prep:
“Buy some ¾ lashes (or simply snip a longer pair to shorten) and apply for instantly ‘feline’ eyes, with none of the faff of a liquid liner. House Of GlamDolls 'Doll Lift' false lashes , £5, are a fast track way to create impact and authentic looking glamour, and they’ll still look fresh come nightfall.”
Seasonal spangle is also most definitely on the cards, as long as it’s easy to apply and doesn’t blind onlookers. Emulate Rodarte’s AW15 woman and make lashes catch the light; Eylure Frozen Beauty Cool as Ice Lashes , £6.95, interlace false lashes with shimmering ribbon for an Elsa worthy effect.
As for hair, keep it simple and swooshy for easy upkeep and modern style points. John Frieda’s Glossy Girl service will ensure that you sail through silly season with barely a flyaway- the 10-30 minute treatment acts as a semi-permanent ‘glaze’ to smooth hair strands, seal in colour molecules and even add a subtle new dimension to existing colour. If you’ve not got time for a full colour and cut, but want to start 2016 on a good hair day, it’s ‘the one’. My ombré ravaged ends have never looked so sleek (they hadn’t been cut since August at the time of treatment application...BAD behaviour for a beauty writer).
Bronze eyes +/- a berry lip
Glimmering copper eyes had a come hither effect on many a catwalk during the AW15 shows; from Marchesa to Emilio Pucci to Rodarte, bronze was backstage eye candy. It’s the ideal substitute for gaudy glitter; a reflective eye is a piece of cake to create with the right shadow (I favour Nars Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Telesto , £21). Lee agrees that such formulas are not to be underestimated:
“A pop of metallic shadow at the centre of your eyelid or over the top of your usual daytime makeup adds just the right amount of sparkle. It’s subtle, but it enhances the shape of the eye and creates a very alluring finish.”
If you want to bring eyes to the fore to an even greater degree, Lee suggests bypassing your daily swipe of black liner for something a little more to it…
“Try a gem coloured eyeliner instead of black. A change in tone will give a radiance to the eyes but still have all the benefits of shaping and defining the eyes.”
A halo of bronze alone is ethereal and a change from the norm without throwing the kitchen sink at your makeup, but keeping colours tonal and adding a light or dark berry toned lipstick will tie in beautifully too. Bobbi Brown’s new Luxe Lip Colour , £25, was made for Christmas and New Year clutches; it’s rich, long lasting and the blingy packaging would get a nod from the Three Kings. There are a whopping 24 shades to choose from, but if you’re going for bronze, Soft Berry, Red Berry or the altogether more gothic Plum Brandy would be my picks.
If all else fails, go glossy
That’s essentially our mission statement right there, but a bit of gloss really does liven things up no matter what time or day it is. The fashion crowd welcomed lip gloss back into the fold with open arms this season , and eyelids and cheekbones got a good glossing too. Choose either eyes or lips to avoid looking plasticky, and splash out on a high quality gloss such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Lustre , £16.50, for maximum longevity, minimal stickiness and a multi-dimensional finish. As for eyes, purpose designed lid glosses shimmy across eyes seductively without going claggy, adding a watercolour effect to shadow or simply making naked eyelids beam. MAC Studio Eye Gloss , £16, is the ideal party plus one.
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