Sometimes it seems like the holidays are all about excess—present galore, tons of food, opulent parties, and yes, even glitzy fashion and makeup. But what if a faux lashes or a bold red lip don’t suit your style?
If your personal preferences skew more natural than glam, you can still create a no-makeup look that’s elevated enough for a special holiday dinner, your work party, or even a black tie New Year’s Eve celebration.
To help you expertly toe the line between low key and dolled up, we asked professional makeup artists for their top tips. You won’t need hours in front of the mirror or heavy product that will make you feel overdone—just a few tricks of the trade.
1. Start with the right moisturizer
“Natural beauty 101: skin care is essential,” says professional makeup artist Aaron Barry. When braving the elements in the holiday party circuit, your skin needs to be kept moisturized and well maintained.” He favors the 24-hour formula from Ustawi, because it contains skin-enhancing properties such as antioxidants, African super fruits, as well as vitamin C and niacinamide. But if you’re looking through products you already have on hand, scan the ingredient lists for other skin-nourishing additives like hyaluronic acid or buzzwords like hydrating, dewy, or glowy.
2. Add a few drops of luminizer to your moisturizer
Whatever moisturizing formula you choose, consider adding a few drops of luminizer, like Pai The Impossible Glow in Rose Gold, says celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein. “It’s an easy way to up the wattage without over-complicating things.” Simply mix a pea-sized amount in for skin that looks healthy and radiant and requires less coverage, she says. “It gives the skin an ethereal feel that looks polished but never overdone.”
3. Use eye drops
“My best tip that I give to all my clients for all of their special events is, if their eyes are red, to use eye drops before applying makeup,” says celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo. “This will make your eyes pop for any holiday makeup look.” You only need a drop or two per eye. Simply tilt your head back and look up. With one hand, pull your lower eyelid down and away from your eyeball, making a pocket for the drops. With the other hand, hold the bottle upside down with the tip hovering just above the pocket. Without touching the bottle to your eye, squeeze one or two drops into the pocket. Close your eye and gently press down on the tear duct for about one minute. Just make sure you do this step before applying any makeup, as any excess will run down your cheeks, maring anything you’ve already applied.
4. Swap foundation for concealer
For a more natural finish, replace foundation with concealer, says Natasha Moor, a professional makeup artist and founder of Natasha Moor Cosmetics. To create a beautiful, flawless canvas, apply concealer under your eyes, down onto your cheek, and on any red areas that you think need concealing, she says. "Make an X on each cheek and blend into your skin with your [makeup sponge].
5. Reach for cream blush
"Every natural makeup lover needs a cream blush in their arsenal," says celebrity makeup artist Michaeline Becker. "Unlike powder blush that sits on top of the skin, cream blush melts into the skin, creating a natural flush or lit-from-within glow." Cream blush is super easy to apply, too. Simply swipe a bit of cream blush on the cheekbones and blend with your fingers, says Becker, who recommends also adding a tiny bit of rosy cream blush onto the bridge of your nose to mimic a natural winter flush.
6. Say no to false lashes
You don't have to fuss with glue to get long, voluminous lashes. Instead, reach for transparent powder, says celebrity makeup artist Nydia Figueroa. "If you want to get long lashes without using tons of mascara or fake lashes, you can dust a bit of translucent powder using a fluffy brush, then apply your favorite mascara as usual," she explains. "This will make the lashes look longer without too much drama." For even more depth, try a tubing mascara, says Becker. "Tubing mascara differs from traditional mascara in that it uses polymers instead of waxes to coat each lash with a little tube or cap, resulting in incredible separation and length," she explains. "It also has the added benefit of not smudging on your face, so you can make it through that holiday party without touch-ups."
7. Brush your brows
"Pushed up brows are in style right now," says celebrity makeup artist Allison Kaye. Plus, it gives your face a nice, lifted look, she says. To achieve this look, Kaye recommends the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. You simply take a spoolie and dip it into the product, covering your spoolie brush. Then, you brush your eyebrows in an upward motion starting with the part closest to your nose. Brush at a 45-degree angle towards the tail end of your brow, so your inner corner is standing upright and the tail ends create a nice brow arch, she says.
8. Exfoliate your lips
"For luscious lips, always exfoliate lightly and hydrate, says celebrity makeup artist Mindy Green. She recommends a simple at-home concoction. "Make a scrub with by mixing 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil with 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of sugar." Then, instead of a matte formula, which can be drying, swipe on a hydrating tinted lip balm instead.
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