During the holidays, when cocktail parties get started soon after the office lights flick off, the quick change becomes something of an art form. Flats give way to heels, the overstuffed tote is downsized to a clutch—and then it’s time to examine what remains of the day’s makeup (precious little) and spin metaphorical straw into festive gold. Fortunately, with a little strategizing and an eye for chic understatement, the shift into evening glamour can be accomplished in as little time as it takes for the Uber to arrive.
“The five-minute face is a blessing because it keeps you from overthinking your makeup,” says the Los Angeles–based makeup artist Rachel Goodwin. “Remember that it’s not necessarily about perfection; it’s about finding that little special adornment that you want to pull off”—be it a high-impact lip or a touch of glitter. There’s good reason we’re drawn to shimmer this time of year, she continues: “Not only are we feeling celebratory, but it’s also about craving reflective light and wanting to sparkle in the dark.”
New York makeup artist Gucci Westman agrees that it’s an occasion for a fanciful nod to the season—a chance to “try something outside your comfort zone,” she encourages—balanced with fresh skin. Here, the pros offer tips for creating an easy, polished party face, with two variations: a bold lip with a subtle dusting of gold on the eyes, or pumped-up lashes. Either route will have you looking refreshed and ready before your ride pulls up.
Supercharge the Skin
“Your skin does get pretty sad by the end of the day, with the heaters, the air-conditioning, the change in weather,” Westman warns. The first step towards pre-party revival, then, is hydration. She gently pats on moisturizer over existing makeup, followed by a mist of SK-II’s new Mid-Day Miracle Essence, which “perks you up!” she says. Goodwin’s secret weapon is Babor’s liquid collagen capsules, which come in tiny glass vials. “[The formula] is a water base, so it gives that plumpness and lushness without being heavy on the skin,” she says. “They’re miracles.”
Clean Up and Cover Up
To fix end-of-day mascara and liner that have gone rogue, dab a Q-Tip with foundation or concealer to lift any wayward marks. “That way, you don’t disturb the rest of the makeup, and you keep the liner where it’s working,” advises Goodwin. Then touch up elsewhere with concealer only as needed, says Westman (her pick: Clé de Peau’s cult formula), adding, “You want to look like you have beautiful skin, but you don’t want to see any of the labor.”
Brighten Up the Cheeks
To bring a little life back into your face, both makeup artists swear by cream blush. “The warmth of your fingers gives this really nice integration into the skin,” says Goodwin, who singles out Rituel de Fille’s coral-tone Delirium shade for special praise. “It’s immediate; it gives you that freshness right back—like you went home and maybe took a disco nap!” Or, in a pinch, pop a little lip color onto the cheeks, Westman suggests. “That’s what real girls do.”
For subtle hits of shine (along the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, at the inner corners of the eyes), Westman reaches for Burberry’s creamy Fresh Glow highlighter. Or dab on RMS Beauty’s coconut oil–infused Living Luminizer, which lends a “radiant, glowing effect, especially in low light,” says Goodwin.
Try a Bold Lip and Gold-Flecked Eye
What else is a statement scarlet lip if not “the little black dress of makeup,” as Goodwin puts it? “It’s my French-girl approach to the whole thing,” says the devotee of Chanel’s “epic” color selection (Rouge Coco’s Gabrielle, for one; Rouge Allure’s Coromandel is another favorite). Longevity and precision are chief concerns, so Goodwin fills in the entire lip with pencil before slicking on lipstick and blotting. “When you’re wearing red, it’s important to get the shape perfect,” she cautions. “A full minute out of your five is going to be getting that cupid’s bow right!”
To finish off the look, Westman pairs it with a hint of shimmery cream shadow in a warm metallic shade. “I’m so into gold and red. It’s so pretty, so chic,” she says. Or apply a thin coat of Urban Decay’s liquid glitter liner above the lashes and blend onto the eyelid with your finger for a super-sheer veil, says Goodwin. Her verdict: “Absolutely elegant, as long as it’s kept very minimalist. When you blink your eyes, you see little flecks of gold glitter.”
Or, Skip the Lip and Focus on the Lashes
Plan B: Bring all the attention to your eyes with a triple coat of mascara for a doll-like effect. Westman recently test-drove a peacock blue shade by Chanel, paired with little more than lip balm. “Think layers and layers and layers of mascara. Really pretty!” she says. Or stick with a classic shade that’s “black and inky and lush” in place of time-consuming false lashes, Goodwin suggests—after all, the party awaits.