A step-by-step guide to achieving party perfect looks for the sparkling festive season
Forget socialising, eating, and dancing, the Christmas party season is all about one thing – looking good. Now you’d think for people addicted to beauty that needn’t be a daunting task, but it’s just our luck that the most sociable calendar month of the year also comes at the time our skin and hair are under the most strain. Jane Calderwood, Champneys premier training manager, explains: “When we’re out and about in the cold weather, our circulation slows down, meaning our skin loses its healthy glow. Once inside we blast heat onto our skin, which can cause broken capillaries and dry out the skin substantially. This can make our skin more sensitive and more likely to become easily irritated. Cold wind on any exposed skin can also cause dryness and sensitivity – skin can appear flaky and feel tight and parched. Exposed hands can become chapped and dry and lips can become cracked and sore.” Not the look you want for the most important social season of the year! So, to help your customers handle the pressures of the season to be jolly we have come up with this guide to the ultimate party preparation. Whether your customer has a day to pamper and prepare, or is in need of a quick office-to-party fix, there are some handy hints for everyone from our team of beauty experts!
Step One: Hair Care
When: The night before
Duration: One hour
“Christmas is all about glam parties and showcasing a series of seasonal looks. This is an ideal time to refresh an old look or add a bit of sparkle with a brand new style,” says Anita Cox-McMillan, Schwarzkopf’s global colour ambassador. She’s right – Christmas is the perfect time to start experimenting with a new look, and what better way to do it than with a fresh new hair colour? There are a massive number of shades to choose from and consumers can invest in colour that can last as long as they like, from temporary colourants for a wary customer (or someone who’s addicted to experimenting!), to permanent variants for confident, colour savvy consumers. Cox-McMillan says: “Temporary colours, which wash out instantly, are great for those who want to trial a new look or want a new look for just a short period. Semi-permanent and permanent colours are also available. Permanent is best for those who are looking for a long-lasting hair colour with more colour intensity.”
When it comes to choosing a colour, customers should go for one that will suit their skin tone, and should never go beyond two shades darker or lighter than their natural hair colour. Cox-McMillan says: “My general rule of thumb is natural blondes should try caramels, rich-gold or soft chestnut. Brunettes best suit berry reds and violet tones. Red heads should opt for gold and copper shades.” For the 2011/2012 party season, red heads are definitely on-trend. A red tint will also add warmth and depth to the hair.
For those who are new to colouring the foam variants, such as John Frieda Precision Foam Hair Colour or Schwarzkopf LIVE Color XXL Shake It Up Colour Foam, are ideal, as the non-drip foam is incredibly easy to apply. Cox-McMillan has the following advice for home colour application in general: “When applying colour, start at the back of the neck to avoid colour running forward on to your face. To apply, take a straight line from the front to the back of your head and another line from ear to ear through the crown, separating your hair into four sections. Begin at the back with the left section of hair and take small slices from the section. When you take the next section ensure that it is fine enough for some of the applied colour to be seen, this enables complete and even coverage.” Then wait, wash, and hey presto! A new look ready to hit the dance floor.
Step Two: Self Tanning
When: Either three hours before the party or the night before, depending on the variant chosen
Duration: Between 30 minutes for instant tan and nine hours for longer-lasting colour (remember eight of those are spent sleeping!)
A self tan is the ideal way to hide tired, dull skin, making your customer appear healthy and glowing despite how they might be feeling on the inside. There are a range of variants available that can be applied and then left to develop for longer lasting colour, or applied and washed off for one night only. Jules Heptonstall, St Tropez skin finishing expert, explains: “We have so many different formats to choose from, it’s all about personal preference. At home tanners can choose from St. Tropez Self Tan, St. Tropez Gradual Tan for a day-by-day build up, or our Naturals Range for a luxurious finish and winter glow.
Those in need of a last minute colour can use our St. Tropez Wash Off range, and our new Perfect Legs Spray is handbag size and perfect for a last minute finish that lasts.” Before applying any fake tan, skin should be exfoliated in the shower to buff away dry skin that tan may cling to. It’s best not to apply moisturiser all over, as this can act as a barrier between the skin and the self tan; instead, apply it to areas that get particularly dry, such as the elbows, knees and feet, and anywhere you would prefer a more subtle colour, such as the hands, wrists and toes. To apply a developing tan formula, Heptonstall says: “For me, St. Tropez Self Tan Mousse applied with an application mitt is foolproof. Simply pump the mousse onto the mitt and rub into your body. To finish your hands and feet, use what mousse is left on your mitt from your body application, and glide over your hands.”
To maintain, she says: “Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. This will keep the tan hydrated and prevent any break up. Use an aloe vera-based moisturiser rather than an oil-based one. Try not to bath in any oils and use St. Tropez Shower Cream. To ensure an even fade, use our Body Polish on day three and five to remove any dead skin cells and prevent any break up.”
If using a gradual tan, your customer should apply it in the morning under their make up and wait for it to develop. If they apply it every other morning for a week they should develop a natural-looking, golden glow. Or for an instant wash off tan, simply apply with a mitt in good time, allow to dry and continue preparing for the party as usual.
Step Three: Nails
When: Morning of party
Duration: 45 minutes
An at home mani/pedi will help your customer to relax, and doing it in the morning will prevent that mad ten-minutes-before-they’re-due-to-leave ‘I haven’t done my nails!!’ panic. It’s also a fantastic way to complete a party look and as far as we’re concerned – the more glittery the better! Celebrity manicurist, Leighton Denny, says: “Whatever you are wearing, a brightly coloured nail will add an instant touch of glitz and glamour, or a nude nail a sense of chic sophistication.” For this season the on-trend shade is anything ‘gun-metal,’ and the magnetic nail polish trend is set to be massive.
The main problem likely to affect nails at this time of year is dehydration, so hands should be massaged with hand cream and cuticles doused in cuticle oil daily. Then, for the ultimate party manicure, Leighton Denny says: “Go for my Festive French – a show-stopping combination of high gloss colour with a glittering French tip. Firstly, file nails from the outer edge to the centre with a crystal nail file. File the nail to mirror the shape of the cuticle for the most flattering nail shape. Next apply a base coat to protect the nail and grip the nail colour, and the first coat of nail colour – go for a vibrant red shade for perfect Christmas party appeal. If you get stray polish on your cuticles try the Leighton Denny Precision Colour Corrector – this correction fluid and brush easily tidies mistakes and smudges. Apply a second coat of colour and allow it to dry for a minute. Then, apply a glitter polish to the nail tips in a smile line as you would a French tip. Finally, apply a top coat to seal in the manicure and give a great, high shine finish.” Gorgeous!
But your customers’ poor, boot-hidden feet will also need some pampering before a big night out, so advise them to soak feet in warm water before dabbing dry and removing dead skin with a pumice stone. Apply a rich foot cream and put some socks on to help it soak in (this can even be done overnight for an intensely effective treatment). Then trim nails, and apply a base coat, two to three shades of colour and a top coat as on the nails. Ready for those stilettos!
Step Four: Skin
When: Ongoing, but needs extra attention four hours before a party
Duration: At least ten minutes daily, then allow an hour for a soak in the bath on the day of the party
Regularly exfoliating and moisturising is the only way to maintain skin’s luminosity during the cold winter months. Jane Calderwood says: “You should exfoliate between one and three times a week. Apply a body scrub to all areas of the body and work over the skin quite briskly with the palms of the hands, using circular movements. Ideally this should be done on dry or slightly damp skin, before getting into the bath or shower. Exfoliating really helps to improve the circulation, meaning your skin will be left glowing with health. The skin on our bodies should also be moisturised daily. There are many different moisturising products on the market, including creams, lotions, butters and oils. For morning use we would recommend a lotion, as they absorb easily. If you have exceptionally dry skin, an oil is ideal. This can be applied at night to nourish the skin while you sleep. Your body should be moisturised at least once a day, and in the run-up to a party, twice a day for a week to ensure skin is soft and ready for that party dress!” Meanwhile, the face should be cleansed morning and evening, with a balm if it is particularly dry, and moisturised morning and night also.
On the day of the party, encourage customers to give their skin a proper pamper, with some exfoliation to boost circulation and luminosity and then a soak in a bath full of nourishing oils to really hydrate the skin. They must follow with a rich moisturiser to trap moisture in the skin and leave it with a healthy glow. Calderwood adds: “For a bit of Christmas sparkle apply Champneys Mediterranean Bliss Shimmering Body Oil – a moisturising oil that contains a subtle gold shimmer to leave skin looking radiant. Massage into the skin prior to dressing and let it dry. Champneys Illuminating Eye Cream, applied prior to your moisturiser, will help to conceal dark circles and soften the appearance of any fine lines around the eyes.”
Step Five: Hair
When: Two and a half hours before party
Duration: Allow one hour
Now your customer’s skin looks healthy, their nails look gorgeous and their body is hydrated and nourished – it’s time for the styling to begin! For the hair, simple glamour is the on-trend look this season, says David Audsley of David Audsley hairdressing. He explains: “Simple glamour means simply created up-dos with sparkly, classy accessories. With ponytails being the talk of the catwalk, it’s the perfect time for simple swept back hair with a glittery fascinator or simple flower.” Before your customer begins styling, they should treat it to a little TLC as hair too may be suffering the effects of winter weather and heating. Karen Dodds of CRC Cutting Room Creative, says: “In order to keep your hair looking and feeling healthy and full of life be sure to use a deep conditioning mask once a week. This will give hair an instant moisture boost and prevent hair from drying out.”
On the day of the party, she suggests using a hair oil: “Hair oils are a great way to prep your hair before you start styling. Apply a small amount to towel dried hair and work through with your fingers or a comb to distribute it evenly. This will make hair more manageable and help to hold your finished style for longer.” Also be sure your customers know to apply a heat protection spray before using any electrical appliances.
To achieve this season’s on-trend looks, David Audsley says: “For a simple, glamorous ponytail, tilt the head backwards and sweep hair together with a fine hairband that matches the colour of your hair, at eye height. The key to keeping ponytails looking more glamorous than an everyday up-do is to keep it smooth and sleek, so apply a few pumps of a product such as Beever Gloss Drops into your palms, rub hands together gently and smooth over the hair to leave a glossy finish and tame flyaways. For the ultimate party ponytail, invest in clip-in extensions and apply before styling the hair for extra thickness and length. The side ponytail is also an excellent way for a subtly glamorous hairstyle. After blow-drying, set hair in heated rollers, leave to cool then group hair together and tie into a loose ponytail just above the shoulders. This look oozes glamour with its subtle waves and volume from root to tip. This look works great with asymmetrical dresses with hair falling on the opposite side to the strap.”
Step Six: Make Up
When: One and a half hours before party
Duration: Allow one hour
You’ll probably agree with us when we say we find the thought of Christmas party make up very exciting. Athena Skouvakis, make up artist for Collection 2000, says: “Christmas party make up should be about having fun and getting into the festive mood, so the beauty looks should be beautiful and glowing with a little glitter and sparkle, using highlighters to accentuate cheeks and contouring.” Laura Mercier, founder of Laura Mercier Cosmetics and acclaimed make up artist, adds: “The long dark nights, the autumn/winter colours, the Christmas lights – it all lends itself to going slightly heavier with make up application and daring to be more dramatic. Shimmers and jewel tone colours become perfectly acceptable.”
This year is all about glowing skin, smoky eyes and subtly-coloured lips, with a sweep of glitter for good festive measure. But first things first, the key element of any Christmas party look is the base, as it has to disguise any signs of tiredness or dehydration. After applying moisturiser, Laura Mercier says: “Apply a primer to make make up last longer and act as a screen between moisturiser and foundation, allowing foundation to have a smoother look and longer wear.” An on-trend look for this party season is the smoky eye, Skouvakis says: “Use a dark eye pencil and rim the inside and outside of your lower lash line. Add black eyeshadow to the socket of your eye, blending it well and stopping below the brow bone. Use the silver or gold glitter on the inner corners of your eyes for added shimmer and finish the look with a soft and light pink lip gloss.”
If your customer is after some tips to keep them looking fresh despite feeling a little worn out, Skouvakis adds: “An illuminating concealer applied under the eyes will conceal dark circles and any blemishes or spots. A quick application of blush can make you look super fresh, and curling your lashes and applying mascara will widen eyes and make you look more awake. Make sure lips always look flake-free by ensuring they are well exfoliated and moisturising them with a lip balm on a regular basis. Always carry eye drops in your bag, as they will make a huge difference if you have tired eyes.” False eyelashes are also a must-have for the party season, and there are more and more available to choose from. Our personal fave is Shu Uemura Jewelled Love Lashes, which are adorned with gold crystals and Bordeaux feathers.
Day to Night
How to go from office chic to party perfect in minutes
• Spray dry shampoo into hair to rid it of grease and boost volume
• For extra volume use a volumising powder to give hair lift – these can be used on dry hair and have an instant effect
• Keep a shine spray or oil handy to bring out hair’s natural shine.
• Sweep a single layer of glittery nail varnish over already painted nails to give them a hint of sparkle
• Use a rich, dark, jewel coloured eyeshadow and line eyes with a dark kohl eyeliner to give them instant intensity. Go with a dark blue or green eyeliner for some variation on the classic black
• Finish lips with a deep red lipstick, or simply apply lip balm for a subtle kiss-me-under-the-mistletoe sheen
• Apply moisturiser to legs if going bare-legged, it will immediately make them glow with health and look longer and leaner