Ruth Griffin: Ultimate party season makeover
If there's one time of the year when we can satisfy our craving for full wattage glamour, it's now. With twinkling fairy lights and shiny tinsel covering every available surface in December, it seems fair enough that we can also lash on that fabulously shiny lip-gloss, or the sparkling eyeshadow we've had rattling around in our make-up bags for the past year. Or to put it another way - now is your chance to decorate yourself!
Christmas parties and festive get-togethers are a very welcome excuse for many of us to release our inner diva, clad head-to-toe in sparkles and sequins. And, just as we embrace full-on glamour in our dressing, at Christmas time we can be bolder with our make-up looks.
As a beauty columnist, I love to wear make-up all year round, but I definitely make an extra special effort to jazz things up at Christmas. My go-to Christmas party look is lashings of sparkles on the eyes - I'm really hoping I find the gorgeously glittery MAC Snow Ball Glitter Kit (right) in my stocking this year - paired with a super glossy, nude lip. Alternatively, I opt for a vibrant matte red lip colour and lashings of mascara. It's the only time of the year that I wear a red lip, and MAC Ruby Woo is my long-standing choice.
If you feel you are stuck in a bit of a make-up rut, now is the perfect time to come out of your shell - and this, the final part of my Ultimate Party Makeover, will be your guide.
My best advice is to experiment with everything - changing your foundation, trying a new eye colour, going bolder with your lips - at home first, until you're happy with the look and feeing confident about yourself. Otherwise, trying out a new look for the very first time on a night out can make many of us feel unsure of ourselves.
Online tutorials are an amazing new resource available to everyone with internet access. I would really recommend anyone over 35 to check them out - we didn't have these amazing make-up pros on call when we were growing up! They are such a great way to up your skill set with make-up techniques and tricks of the trade.
If you're not so tech-savvy, don't worry - just book a lesson at a make-up counter in your local department store and bring your normal make-up bag with you to see what needs upgrading and what is still good to use.
Anything goes at Christmas parties, so be brave with your make-up and have fun with it. Read on and get ready to glitter, glisten and glow this festive season!
5 of the best party products
● Best long-lasting foundation
Sleek Life Proof Foundation Oil-Free, €11.50, from pharmacies nationwide, is a long-wearing foundation with soft focus and blurring powders which leaves a smooth and matte ﬁnish to your skin that goes the distance from dawn to desk to disco! Gives a medium-to-full buildable coverage. It punches way above its weight price-wise. If you want to get a more dewy finish, add a drop of facial oil in with this foundation.
● Best for rosy cheeks
A quick dab of blush is a speedy, sure-fire way of livening up a tired face. I prefer cream blushes as they are dewy and natural-looking, and they can double up as a lip stain. My new favourite is VB x Estée Lauder Cheek Creme in Blonde Mink, €56, from Brown Thomas, Dublin.
● Best red lips
Decorate your face for Christmas parties in seconds with a strong red lip. (See tips overleaf for perfect application.) A strong red with a slight orange tone will make teeth look whiter. Try Chanel Rouge Allure Intense Red in N1 or N4, €36, from department stores; Tom Ford Lips & Boys in 'Connor', €35, from department stores; or Maybelline Colour Sensational in Siren In Scarlet/No 690, €9.99, from pharmacies nationwide.
● Best lashes
This has been marketed as the "sex-proof" mascara. Seriously! That aside, Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara, €21.15, from department stores nationwide, is divine - it will really lengthen and define your lashes and will stay in place. I do, however, find it difficult to remove but an oil-based eye make-up remover works a treat.
● Best sparkle
If you want your eyes to twinkle and glow, MAC Snow Ball Pigment and Glitter Kit, €30, from Brown Thomas, BT2 and Arnotts, is the life of the party! With three mini glitters and pigments, eyes will look majorly tinsel-like. Apply with either a dry or wet brush, depending on the desired effect. Comes with a divine rose gold sequin bag. If this sounds too fiddly, try a sparkly eyeshadow, such as the MAC Dazzleshadow, €21 from Arnotts.
10 hair tips
1 Invest in a primer - it's a sure-fire way of getting your skin prepped, smooth and glowing for a long night of partying. Apply before foundation or mix a small drop into your foundation.
2 If you want to have very sparkly eyes, do your eye make-up first, clear off any shadow and sparkles that may have fallen onto your skin, then apply your foundation last for a flawless finish.
3 If sparkles from your eyeshadow have fallen down your cheeks, don't panic. Just roll a clean cotton bud with the tiniest smear of facial oil on it and the sparkles will come off. Then, smooth your foundation with your brush, sponge or fingers.
4 A winged, kitten-flick with your eyeliner is always a make-up winner - but it's difficult to master! I find it easier to get a straight line by using eyeliner stencils and the corner of a Post-it note as guides. I use a gel liner (less chance of splodges than with liquid liners) and a firm brush. MAC Fluidline Eyeliner Gel, €21, is as fool-proof a tool as I've found. Don't despair if you mess it up - you can always use a small amount of powder to blend a messy line out and create a smudged liner look instead!
5 Don't panic if you've been heavy-handed with any part of your make-up - simply use a clean rounded make-up brush and blend away any product you may have lashed on too much of. It will tone down as you blend.
6 When using a strong red lippy, apply foundation and powder on lips first as an anchor for the lipstick to adhere to. Apply two coats of lipstick, blotting between applications.
7 If you're confused about where to apply highlighter, you're not alone. A good guideline is to apply it really sparingly on the top of cheekbones and middle of the forehead. If you wish to amp it up, apply on the cupid's bow and down the middle of the nose. Also looks great on collarbones, decolletage across shoulders and down shinbones. Try The Balm Mary Lou Highlighter, €17, from Littlewoods, Debenhams and pharmacies.
8 A general rule of thumb for grown-up, glamorous sheen and sparkle is to only use it on one area - ie on eyes or lips or skin, not all at the same time.
9 The best desk-to-dinner make-up transformers are a slick of strong lipstick or gloss, kohl eyeliner and an added shimmer of bronzer. Bring powder, foundation brush, concealer and lipstick in your clutch bag for touch-ups throughout the night.
10 If you still have rogue flecks of sparkles stuck to your face the morning after your bash and just can't shift them, running a strip of Sellotape over the little critters will remove them. Harsh but effective.
If you prefer your sparkles on your lips, try some of the high-gloss, hologram-effect and sparkly lip glosses available. I like HUDA Beauty Winter Solstice 4 Mini Lip Strobe Kit, €37, exclusive to Brown Thomas; MAC Lip Glass in Beaux, €19, from Brown Thomas, BT2 and Arnotts; and Essence Star Shot Lip Topper, €2.90, from Penneys and pharmacies.
Insta-glam from the catwalks
Metallic glitter eyes
As seen at: Balmain, Elie Saab (pictured), Nicholas K, Les Copains and Alexis Mabille.
Achievability: Easy-peasy! Just slick on a metallic, glittery shadow or pencil on your eye socket and lash line, or just a tiny bit at the inner corner of your eye. Then, using a blending brush, blend and buff out.
Use: Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Colour Morphing Eye Pencils, €25, from Brown Thomas, BT2 and Arnotts.
As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana (pictured), Jenny Packham, Topshop Unique, MSGM and Jill Stuart.
Achievability: The easiest and quickest way to amp up your make-up from desk to dinner in a jiffy.
Use: Chanel Rouge Allure Intense Red in N1 or N4, €36, from department stores nationwide.
Peach & copper accents
As seen at: Blugirl, Rocky Star, Max Mara and Bottega Veneta (pictured).
Achievability: Easy. Add a copper/peach/soft orange toned eyeshadow/lipstick/blush to your make-up arsenal. A fresher take on winter skin make-up - it gives an amazing lift to the face.
Use: MAC Lip Glass in Beaux, €19, from Brown Thomas, BT2 and Arnotts; NOTE Luminous Silk Blusher in Coral 03, €9.99, from pharmacies; and the peach-toned powder from Inglot's Signature Honey Eyeshadow Palette, €32, from Inglot nationwide.
The new contouring
As seen at: Max Mara (pictured).
Achievability: A world away from the unnatural "clown contouring" popular in recent years, this is subtle, soft contouring for grown-ups. Try online tutorials to help you learn.
Use: The experienced beauty buff should try Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand Duo, €61. Newbies should try her Filmstar Bronze and Glow, €65, both from Arnotts, BT2 and Brown Thomas nationwide. A great budget alternative is Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette in 003, €8.99, from pharmacies nationwide.
3 weeks to Christmas
Things to do this week
Try a tutorial
If you're curious about contouring,eyeliner flicks or curling your lashes, but don't know where to start, online tutorials are great. I love Charlotte Tilbury's YouTube channel as she uses models of all ages with a huge range of looks from barely-there to big glam.
Invest in good quality make-up brushes
It will make it quicker and easier to have brilliant make-up if your brushes are in tip-top shape. Try the Zoeva Brush Kit, €79, from Arnotts and Brown Thomas.
Try out new colours and looks - but practice at home first. Your technique will improve and you'll feel more confident showcasing your new look in public.