ike so many things this year, Christmas get-togethers – perhaps attended on Zoom, possibly in leggings hidden from the computer screen – don’t look all that much like traditional festive gatherings.
The make-up that’s best suited to them isn’t typical either. It may be a little less glitzy than usual, a counterpoint to the casual clothing that constitutes partywear right now, but it should still offer a sense of occasion. Application techniques will be important, too, with computer cameras and at-home lighting in mind.
“This is the time to go into your arsenal and break out your lipstick,” says Sir John, a make-up artist who is the US creative director of L’Oréal Paris. “We still long to have a statement lip.”
This year, some new lipsticks are embedded with glitter or shimmer, which catch the light as you’re speaking on camera.
“With Zoom, things can get really flat, so brands are trying to play with their textures so that we get something else jumping off the screen,” says Jamie Greenberg, a make-up artist in Los Angeles.
Items like these, she says, help differentiate party make-up from what’s worn for a day of online meetings. “Especially for holiday parties, it’s a bit more fun.”
The new Tom Ford Extreme Lip Spark in Alias, for example, is embedded with tiny flecks of glitter that subtly catch the light without being overpowering. Guerlain’s holiday collection includes a discreetly lustrous top coat to add a twinkle, either over matte lipstick or on its own.
Another option is a product that’s glossy, like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, applied on top of lip colour for shine, Sir John says.
For more saturated colour, there are still the deep burgundy and red shades that come out this time of year, like YSL Beauty’s Wildly Bordeaux and Wildly Rouge. These take extra-precise application to accommodate a webcam’s visual limitations.
“The shape of your lips has to be perfect, because it can look like you have a crooked smile,” says make-up artist Sandy Linter. “It picks up shape.” She suggests using a lip brush and precisely covering the mouth. Her technique includes dividing the lips into four sections and methodically working up and down from the corners.
For the eyes, some popular evening looks, like thick black eyeliner or a heavy shading, can appear too sombre and pronounced onscreen.
“Try something metallic,” says Kate Lee, a make-up artist who is affiliated with Chanel. “That’s also a way to get a dramatic-looking eye without using something that’s dark and smoky.” The mica in metallic eye shadows, she says, creates a texture that’s easy to apply.
Lee adds that warm shades, like rich brown and beige, are more forgiving for computer gatherings than a colour like grey, which can look considerably more intense on camera than in person.
New options along those lines include several shadows from Chanel, like Cuivre Rose (pink copper) and Or Antique (antique gold). Chantecaille has them, too, in a rich purple and pale rose gold with just enough sparkle without going overboard. These can look intimidatingly pigmented in their packages but are softly glistening when applied in a single swipe instead of as multiple layers.
Greenberg suggests using eyeliner to fill in the water line – the thin space just behind the bottom eyelashes – to, as she put it, “give you a nice definition that will pop off screen”.
Another festive option is a highlighter, which can be used on different parts of the face. Pat McGrath Labs recently introduced one in a shade called Champagne Gold, an addition to its Skin Fetish line. Crystal Holographic, this year’s iteration of Lancôme’s annual holiday highlighter, is quietly opalescent.
Dior’s Backstage Glow Face Palette comes in three new versions, each with four shades with a controlled dose of metallic sheen. The key to these is not using too much of the product and applying it strategically.
“Less is always more on a Zoom when it comes to anything that’s going to shine or shimmer,” Greenberg says. “It’s about where you’re placing it.” Eyes and lips are safer bets than cheeks.
Eyelashes, on the other hand, should be bold and emphatic for virtual festivities. “Because Zoom is not the best quality camera, you can look a little dowdy,” Linter says.
False eyelashes are also an effective option, she says, to make you look more expressive, especially on Zoom.
“They deflect a lot of mistakes and bad lighting,” she says. “They can really work.”
Flattering lighting is advisable for online festivities, as is a test run of party make-up. “You have to see yourself on camera before you start the call to know how you’re going to look,” Lee says.
As part of that preparation, she also suggests that you have make-up wipes handy in case, as she puts it, “your glitter ball gets a bit crazy”.