Ready, steady, prep.... the party season is on the way
Good kit is key for a seamless desk-to-dance floor transformation. Katie Wright unveils your festive party season survival guide
WHEN IT comes to parties, we can all agree that getting ready is half the fun, but in the run-up to Christmas, when mid-week soirees mean we don't have the luxury of lazy afternoons to primp and preen, the pressure really is on.
A little planning goes a long way, however, and with the right prep and products, you can transition from office to out on the town with ease - and keep your festive beauty mojo popping along with the Champagne corks.
These are the dozen daily essentials that will help you sail through party season...
EASY AS NAILS
A UV-cured manicure is your best bet for polish that will make it through the 12 days of Christmas chip-free, but if you haven't got time to get to the salon, a DIY gel effect polish, like Nailed London, will still go the distance.
You need a shade that will complement all your outfits, so dark or nude is best, and the Perfect Classics Collection, £24, Amazon, offers both (www.amazon.co.uk).
Fancy a quick change? Nails Inc's innovative new Paint Can Spray Nail Polish, £10, cuts your mani time in half. Paint on a clear base coat, spray Hoxton Market liberally, finish with a top coat and wash the excess off for a hot pink hand makeover in minutes (www.nailsinc.com).
A BREATH OF FRESH HAIR
December can take its toll on our bank balances and sometimes, a visit to you colourist just isn't an option. But you needn't worry about revealing regrowth, because there are now a plethora of root cover-up products on the market.
Most come as a powder or spray, but Kazumi Root Varnish, £30, is a gel formula that can be brushed onto wet or dry hair, allowing greater precision in five shades, from blonde to black (www.boots.com).
If lacklustre locks are a problem, dry shampoo will give them a new lease of life pre-party (or pep them up the morning after).
Aveda's new Shampure Dry Shampoo, £22, is a powder that you massage into your roots then brush out, adding volume and a fresh scent (www.aveda.co.uk).
We do more than our fair share of dashing around in December, so keep a can of Sure Women Crystal Invisible Black & White, currently reduced to £1.65 from £3.39 (www.superdrug.com), on hand, to freshen up while changing into your evening attire. Crucially, it won't leave marks, whether you're in an LBD or a white tux jacket.
Going tights-free in the deep mid-winter can be somewhat terrifying, but Sanctuary Spa Wonder Body, £8, will allay your flesh-baring fears. The moisturising lotion blurs, smoothes and adds a hint of colour and sheen (www.sanctuary.com).
If your desk becomes your dressing table right about now, a strict cosmetic edit is a must.
A palette will save you carting round a mountains of make-up, while also giving you flexibility to chop and change your look, should the mood take you.
Yves Saint Laurent Kiss & Love Makeup Palette, £59, offers interchangeable eye, lip and cheek options in a sweet kiss-print compact (www.houseoffraser.co.uk).
Pair it with Ecotools Mini Essentials Brush Set, £5.99, to create seductive eye make-up looks and perfectly flushed cheeks (www.boots.com).
When boozy lunches have a tendency to bleed into cocktail hour and beyond, you need a lipstick that just won't quit.
Laura Mercier's Velour Lovers Lip Colour, £22, comes in 12 matte shades of saucy-sounding colours, like hot pink Boudoir and Foreplay (the brightest red), the colour pay off matched only by its staying-power (www.johnlewis.com).
Can't decide on one shade? MAC Irresistibly Charming Pink Lip Gloss Kit, £26, consists of a quartet of rosy hues in handbag-ready mini tubes (www.maccosmetics.co.uk).
We can't cure your hangover (sorry), but there are ways to hide the evidence of your festive excess.
Halo Eye Make Up Remover Pads, £1.50, are soft, perfectly sized and soaked with lotion, so wiping away panda eyes is a breeze (www.superdrug.com).
If that's not enough to get those eye-bags to budge, try a couple of Masque Bar Dark Circle Reducer Eye Patches, currently reduced to £6 from £9.99 for five pairs (www.boots.com). Keep them in the fridge to boost their post-party potential.
TRIED AND TESTED
Is a balm better than a face wash for thorough make-up removal? Our testers find out...
:: Trilogy Make-up Be Gone Cleansing Balm, £19.50 (www.trilogyproducts.com)
"I'm quite lazy when it comes to my skincare routine, but this balm is thankfully fuss-free. You just scoop out a small blob and massage into dry skin, then soak the small, organic cloth in warm water and use it to gently wipe across your face. Not a hint of make-up remained and my skin felt immediately softer and more hydrated."
:: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, £22 (www.clinique.co.uk)
"Starting life as a dense balm, on contact with my skin, it melted into a silky oil-like cleanser. I have sensitive skin but this mild formula didn't irritate, even around the eyes, and it successfully removed my waterproof mascara too. My skin felt polished and fresh after use."
:: Oskia Micro Exfoliating Balm, £46 (www.spacenk.com)
"Gentle enough to be used as a daily face polish, this silky balm emulsifies with water to create a gentle paste. It's non-abrasive, so suitable for sensitive skins, and left my skin feeling smooth and bright without causing any nasty dryness. After a week of use, my skin is really glowing."
BUY IT NOW
Gwen Stefani is a modern make-up icon - even in paparazzi pics, she never looks anything less than flawless - so who better to pair up with Urban Decay on their latest eye colour collection? Featuring 12 new shades and three from the archive, the Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette, £40, offers endless eyeshadow possibilities, just in time for party season (available November 22; www.urbandecay.co.uk).
:: GIVE IT A REST
"You look tired" isn't exactly a compliment, yet 90% of women have been on the receiving end of that old clanger, even when they feel fine, according to a survey from Juvederm facial fillers. Time to stock up on the beauty sleep so party season can bring only pleasant comments on the way we look.
:: STEAL OF THE WEEK
While we're supposed to be shopping for our loved ones right about now, you'd be forgiven for indulging in one of Murad's gift sets, because they represent some amazing savings. The £75 Beautiful Firm Skin set, for instance, which comprises a cleansing cream, eye cream, serum and make-up bag, is actually worth £148 (www.johnlewis.com).