FOR MOST students, all the anxiety, drama and stress that surrounds the Leaving Cert experience is now — mercifully — done and dusted.
There's just one final rite of passage to go before you head off to college, work or embark on that year-long trip around the world: the debs. This head-to-toe guide will ensure you're in tip-top shape for the big night.
If you have pictures of the hairstyle you'd like to wear to the debs, take it into the salon. It's easier to give your stylist an image of the look you're after than to describe it to them.
There's a myth that hairdressers hate people doing this, but what wrecks a hairdresser's head isn't a client who presents them with a picture of the hairstyle they want, it's a client who refuses to accept the hairstyle won't suit them or won't work with their hair type. Let your hairdresser know what your dress is like so that they can suggest a style which will work with it.
In terms of trends, GHD curls are as popular as ever, as are intricate up-dos, but for something a bit different consider glamorous side-swept waves like Taylor Swift’s, or an off-centre chignon (that's a big bun to you and I) pinned low at the nape of the neck — think The Hills' Audrina Patridge at last year's Grammys.
Don't have a proper skincare routine in place yet? Well, now's the time to get one sorted to ensure you look your best in all the photos. The VICHY NORMADERM RANGE suits problematic oily skin that's prone to breakouts, while the dermatologist recommended LA ROCHE-POSAY EFFACLAR RANGE will help to tackle more severe acne. Both Vichy and La Roche Posay are exclusive to pharmacies. Vichy pharmacies will have a member of staff trained as a dermo-adviser, and they'll advise you on the best products for your skin from the
Vichy ranges. If you're feeling flush and fancy a facial, head for a DERMALO G I C A salon. Dermalogica facials are particularly useful if you're not sure of your skin type: before the treatment commences, your skin will be analysed and areas of concern will be identified and mapped out on a chart for you to take home. Prices vary by establishment, but expect to shell out around €65 for a full, customised facial and approx €45 for a mini-facial.
While you're there, ask about D E R M A LO G I C A’ S C L E A N S TA R T L I N E . Priced from €11.15 and specifically designed for teenage skin, the eight Clean Start products aim to tackle blackheads, blemishes and breakouts without causing irritation or dryness.
If you're planning on doing your own make-up, go through a couple of trial runs before the big night. YouTube is a fantastic resource for tutorials, tips, and inspiration; three particularly good make-up maestros to check out are Lauren Luke (panacea81), Michelle Phan (Michelle-Phan), and Ireland's own Amy Dillon (dazzledust25).
Use a light hand, remember that less is more, and go for a polished, pretty, natural look. In terms of supplies, there's really no need to break the bank. Some of the budget make-up brands have seriously upped their game in the past couple of years. ESSENCE is a case in point: its QUATTRO EYESHADOW is brilliant and is priced at an almost ridiculously teeny €3.49, and you could be forgiven for thinking that their lovely limited edition RETURN TO PARADISE FAMOUS FLAMINGO S H I M M E R P OW D E R , €3.99, was a far pricier product from a brand such as Benefit. Find Essence in pharmacies and department stores.
For lips, go with a gloss or a lip stain rather than lipstick to cut down on the need for touch-ups. Finally, when you're finished putting on your face, run a slightly damp make-up sponge along the underside of your jawline — this will do away with any foundation tidemarks.
Given the ongoing love affair between Irish girls and fake tan, it's probably fair to assume that you're intending to bronze up for your debs. Whether you're springing for a therapist-applied spray tan or opting to go the DIY route, preparation is key to achieving a flawless, glowing finish. The night before your tan, exfoliate all over to get rid of any flaky skin cells or old tan, and then apply a good body moisturiser after you've exfoliated.
I'd always recommend leaving a day or two between fake tan application and a big day (or night) out. That way, if your tan is a total disaster, at least you have a bit of time to sort it out!
If you're terrified of looking ‘Tangoed’, apply a gradual self-tanner for a couple of days leading up to the debs. It'll give you maximum control over the darkness of your tan since you can slowly build it up to the desired intensity, and will minimise the risk of streaks, blotchiness, or orangeness.
For an at-home mani-pedi, you need look no further than the BARRY M or RIMMEL stands for all your bang-on-trend nail varnish needs. To make sure your paint job lasts the night, though, you'll need to use a base and top coat. Sally Hansen, in pharmacies and department stores, have an extensive selection of both, and the INSTA-DRI TOP COAT , €5.93, means there's no need to hang around waiting for your nail varnish to dry.