You have a few holiday parties on your calendar and you want to do something special so you try a new trick and it goes left and suddenly you’re late because you have to start your makeup all over again. Raise your hand if this has happened to you. Even with my knowledge of makeup I have found myself in a similar position. Let’s face it, while we might know that we can learn a makeup technique or two from YouTube, the chances that our schedules allow for us to actually try them fall somewhere on our collective to-do lists between ”One Day I…” and ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For…”.

“I think a grown woman needs to approach makeup the same way that she approaches fashion, with confidence,”

says Mimi Kamara, a makeup artist, and educator based in New York City. “Know who you are and what your strengths are and then play them up.” With real-life preferences, skills, and time constraints in mind,  Merrell Hollis, a creative director, and makeup artist also based in New York City, Keka Heron, a makeup artist based in Atlanta, as well as Kamara, offer the following tips to help us put on the holiday glitz with ease.

If You Love A Low Maintenance Look Try One of the Following:

Forget about Foundation (especially if you’ve never worn it before). “Always start with a tinted moisturizer, it is always going to be your saving grace,” says Hollis. “Tinted moisturizer is sheer enough for your skin as well as the dimensions of your face to show through.” There’s a bonus too, according to Hollis most tinted moisturizers don’t need to be set with a loose powder. Hollis’ pick: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer $44, 

Use a Hint of Highlighter. Kamara notes that a dusting of shimmery highlighter on the top of the cheekbones can instantly make the face subtly pop. In addition, pressing a sparkly bronze highlighter onto the eyelids will result in instant dewy dimension. She suggests Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer Powder, $56 in Golden Glow or Bronze Glow.

Photo: Bloomingdales

Trade in Your Black Eyeliner for Gold. Merrell points out that little accents can have a big impact.”It doesn’t look like you are trying too hard but it does show that you are ready to join the party,” he explains. Draw a simple line to the top lid only and know that it will be just as effective if you choose a pencil eyeliner because you lack the steady hand that a liquid liner requires. Choose either Makeup Forever Aqua Liner, $24,  or Kohl Pencil, $18. 

Makeup Forever Aqua Liner in Diamond Gold

Put the Emphasis on Bolder Lashes and Lips. Heron believes that the easiest option is the choice of a bold lip. While red might be the expected choice—you can’t go wrong with  MAC’s Ruby Woo—she says that a deep maroon can also incredible impact. Pair your bolder lip choice with mascaras that have both length and volume. But if you can’t buy two mascaras go for the volume.  Her picks: and Nars Audacious Lipstick in Ingrid, $34 and L’Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Volume Building Mascara, $7.99.

If Neutrals Are Part of Your Everyday Beauty Arsenal:

Don’t Pass On the Primer. “I’ve seen women put on eyeshadow, but it doesn’t stay on because their eyelids become oily,” says Heron, who expertise is bridal makeup, which definitely needs to stay put for the entire event. Heron will launch an app next month called WeddGlam, a marketplace for brides and bridal parties to connect with hairstylists and makeup artists across the country. She suggests choosing a primer such as Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot, $22, in a hue close to your skin tone to give your shadow staying power.

MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot

Hollis adds that a lash primer is a good choice when you don’t want to wear false lashes. He recommends using the “load the stop” method. Apply the first coat and let it completely dry then follow the same directions when applying the second coat. After the third coat is completely dry, then you can apply mascara. “If you don’t let it dry and apply mascara too soon, it creates clumping or gives your lashes a greyish cast,” Hollis explains. His pick: Lancome Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base, $25.50.

Lancome Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base

Go For A Simple Smokey Eye. Most of the time we put a smokey eye under the category of “makeup looks that can go wrong” but Kamara says that doesn’t have to be the case. “Technically, a smokey eye is defined as your entire eye rimmed in black. You can have a smokey eye without having an ounce of eyeshadow on your lid,”  she explains. “And once you know, that you can also use your regular bronze shadow and rim the top and bottom with black.”

Look At Liners. “Liner, liner, liner, I can’t say it enough,” says Kamara. “Eyeliner and Lip liner will instantly transform a look.” Her shade of choice? Navy. “It’s black unidentical twin, yet it is still conservative” she explains. “And you are still pushing the envelope in your own way.” For lips, Kamara suggests trying a new shade by using a lip pencil to not only define the mouth but also in lieu of lipstick or gloss. Since this may be new for you, Kamara says that trying out inexpensive choices like NYX Faux Blacks Eyeliner in Navy, $8 and  NYX Suede Matte Lip Liner, $4 will allow you to experiment without breaking the bank.

Stick to Natural-Looking Faux Lashes. Hollis suggests that you choose a lash that mimics your natural lash pattern, wispy and sparse but still has a bit of density. His trick to a flawless application? “Cut the lash into 3 sections. End first, then center then the inside,” he says. “It is easier, faster way to get the lash on and to make sure it stays on. It also gives the illusion of individual lashes instead of strips.”

Add a Sheer Coat of Glitter Gloss. Kamara points out that a coat of glitter gloss will add instant dimension to the lipstick or gloss you wear daily. “It is the icing on the cake,” she explains. “I love the idea of investing in something that’s glittery and is not a lot of color, so you can add it on top of any lipstick or lip gloss.” Our pick: Hue Noir Perfect Shine Hydrating Gloss in All That Glitters, $20.

Hue Noir Perfect Shine Hydrating Lipgloss in All That Glitters

If You Are Confident In Both Your Application Skills and Colors:

Know the Glitter Rules Before You Break Them. “If you are wearing glitter, everything else is background,” Kamara says. “There is only one Diana Ross, pick who is going to be The Supremes. The Supremes contributed to Diana taking center stage. But when it comes to makeup, you have to choose what you want your audience to focus on.” She also adds that if you are committed to glitter that you should go big or go home. “In my world, there are no shades to stay away from. But stop at the crease for glitter eyeshadow instead of taking it all the way up,” Kamara says.  If you opt for glitter shadow, she suggests you skip the liner. Our pick: Pat McGrath Mothership III: Subversive Palette, $125  or Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette, $39.

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette

Layer Your Liners. Hollis suggests doubling down on color by rimming the entire eye with a bright colored liner, like a bright blue, and then tracing the top of the eye with a glitter of the same shade. We like Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner, $20.

Make A Monochromatic  Eye Statement. Heron notes that a monochromatic eye achieved using a product like MAC Pigment, $22, can really make a standout statement when paired with a well-groomed eyebrow and heavy eyelashes such as Ardell Double Up Wispie Lashes, $5.64. Finish the look with a dark, vampy lip shade such as Merlot from  The Lip Bar, $12.

Merlot from The Lip Bar

Go Brighter on Your Lips. According to Hollis, a warm pink lipstick can brighten up the whole face. Other unexpected holiday shades include shades of orange and raspberry. Check out: Lancome Color Design Lipstick, $23

Think About Your Powder Placement. Kamara believes that you should look at that application of translucent powder like health insurance, it protects what you have created. However, it doesn’t need to go everywhere. She suggests applying powder down the center of the face instead. “If you cheeks get sweaty or shiny, it will look more feminine,” she says. One to try: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder, $38.

Whatever you do this holiday season, find the technique that makes you feel both comfortable and confident. Then go forth and shine bright like a diamond!


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Corynne Corbett
I work at the intersection of beauty, technology, storytelling, and empowerment. I believe that beauty can be used as a catalyst to change the world.