With 15 minutes to spare between the end of your workday and that after-work holiday party, you can do more than apply a fresh coat of lipstick to really get glam.
It just takes a bit of preparation and a focus on the season's best beauty trends, says Mikki Taylor, ESSENCE magazine's Beauty Director and Cover Editor. "For whatever event you step out to — a gathering, a night on the town — the goal is to look radiant," she says. Stash a mini-makeup kit in your desk, and with these 10 tips from Mikki, you'll be leaving the office for your Kwanzaa cocktail in grand style.
1. Start with the basics: Clean, clear skin, well-groomed nails, tender feet, defined brows and smooth, soft lips. "Lip balm is essential all year round, so it can wear any color or finish that you choose in superb style," Mikki says.
2. Layer your look. Long workdays don't leave time for starting from scratch, so build your evening face in the morning, before you head to work. "A great moisturizer will help your makeup last throughout the day," our Beauty Editor advises. Follow with foundation, then a loose powder. For dry skin, use a hydrating foundation. For oily or combination skin, use an oil-free foundation. Pat away shine with blotting paper, to avoid a buildup of makeup. By the end of the day, your face just needs a dusting of loose powder mixed with a bit of shimmer.
3. Go with the glow. Shimmer is essential this season, so try M.A.C.'s Iridescent Powder in Golden Bronze. You can even mix a little with your foundation. Dust it all over with a big brush.
4. Blush lightly. For radiant cheeks, try creme blushers and gel blush sticks, Taylor says. Avoid rouges and powders in favor of a more subtle flush of color.
5. Accentuate your eyes. A good staple is a smoky brown shadow like Iman's Cedar Chip, or Smash Box's Chocolate. Create the base by filling in the crease — "That gives you a little depth, what we call the 'sultry eye,'" Mikki says. Then open the lid with a bit of gold or something icy.
6. Spotlight your lips. If you're sporting dark, smoky eyes, go for lips in a nude shade, or catch the light with just a hint of shimmer. Line with a good pencil, then fill in with gloss. If you keep your daytime eyes — mascara and a bit of liner — make the most of that simplicity with a "dressed" or "done" lip in a deep hue, Taylor says. "We like the deep wines and aubergines," Mikki notes.
7. Play up your hair. For relaxed styles, go for layering and color. Have your stylist add a little hair, but remember to keep it wispy, and in styles that turn up and out, or bump under. Or try tipping, a popular trend in which your stylist randomly adds color to the ends of your hair, while leaving the roots untouched. You can also tip add-on hair. Show off natural hair with roller set locks, coils, twists and Afros. Create sensuous textures by twisting the hair and finger combing it into shape.
8. Accessorize. Add a festive feel with unusual ponytail holders, "nellies" (hair rhinestones called ultra hair lights), or hair pieces for elegant chignons or sleek top dos.
9. Wig it. Whether in natural, textured or relaxed styles, wigs are very much "in" this season, Mikki says. Check out the collections by Star Jones and Beverly Johnson, or see the line at your nearby beauty supply store. Be sure to have a stylist cut and shape your wig to suit your face.
10. Don't forget your digits. "It's all about layering," Mikki says. Try using two nail colors together — preferably a shimmer over a creme or sheer, or a French manicure in gold with silver tips, or the "bendi" designs with a bit of stones. And with sandals and mules still fashionable despite the season, keep your feet sandal-ready by using a foot file every other day to remove rough skin, and treat yourself to that regular pedicure you've been putting off.