Here it comes. Don't worry if you don't feel ready. The only people who ever feel ready for Christmas are children, or people who don't yet have children. Everyone else feels like they throw themselves together for it and hope for the best. A bit of sparkle, a bit of shine, a bit of candlelight to hide the rough edges, and you're sorted. The extra social occasions don't require that you get all festooned with seasonal glitz. Instead, simply let it glow a little.
The beauty of glow-bestowing products is that they're easy to apply, and are entirely complementary to your existing make-up routine - regardless of how elaborate or minimal, expert or inept that is. Powder products are a doddle to apply with a brush, and a warm colour that falls between a bronzer and a highlighter will give your complexion warmth and catch the light.
Light-catching is key, as it makes skin look younger and smoother - but look for finely milled powders and not pots of gritty glitter. It's not Saturday Night Fever time. Our top favourite, though, is a cream that is adored by people who get their photos taken for a living. And they know all about looking your best, no matter what else is going on.
Mac Strobe Cream, €33.50, Brown Thomas and BT2
When mutterings began in autumn that contouring was being nudged aside in favour of simple highlighting, this product was mentioned repeatedly. It's a classic product at this stage, a go-to if you want instant added glow without any extra bronze or blush. Dab it on where you want the light to catch, and it will subtly illuminate. It also has skincare properties, including green tea and various antioxidants. "An older and duller person looks back at me from the mirror this time of year," said one panellist. "This is like a youth hit. It sort of makes you look alive and awake."
Chanel Powder Blush in Alezane, €39, Chanel counters nationwide
Thanks to its peachy-pinky-bronze colour, which is shot through with gold shimmer, we'd call this product part blush, part highlighter. As in, you get a pop of seasonal colour from it, but you get glow, too. The peach and pink mean that it's not at all a bronzer, but there is nice warmth to it that speaks of seasonal cinnamon and spice. "This gave an instant lift to my dead, winter-white complexion," a panellist said. "It's understated, but the shimmer brings the party."
Cocoa Brown Instant Tan Bronzing Gel Shimmer, €6.99, available nationwide, or see cloud10beauty.com
If you must tan in the middle of winter, then this might be your best option, as it washes off. A tan is all very well when you're out at night and nicely lit, but by day, in the harsh light of the office, it can look a bit silly. "This non-smelly, easy-to-apply gel comes in a matt effect or a shimmer effect," said one panellist. "The latter at least conveys that it's a festive tan, and you don't expect anyone to believe that it's for real."
Urban Decay Naked Illuminated in Lit, €29.50, Debenhams; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Part of what we love about this compact is the brush, which is built into its own compartment, below the product. So it's not sitting directly on the product, and it's a decent size. This is the new, third shade in the Illuminated range, and it's a very soft bronze, verging on gold, but with a lot less yellow. So it has warmth, without too much brightness. "This claims to suit all skintones, but I'd add that it also suits all ages," a panellist said. "Once you're over 30, overstated glimmer can accentuate rather than mute the flaws, but this is very flattering."
Flormar Terracotta Powder in Dual Gold, €12.95, selected pharmacies nationwide
OK, contour if you must. This powder is frequently name-checked as a stand-out product from the classic line that just came to Ireland this year. The price is good, and the product is too; it's finely milled, as you would want a powder to be, and very velvety on the skin. Contouring fans will love the two shades, which you can ramp up or down to your heart's delight, while those who don't shade and highlight can use the shades separately for day or night. "Great versatility, great quality, and I'm surprised by the price," one panellist said.