I’m going to ask you to travel back in time with me. Take my hand, close your eyes, and think of Britpop, belly buttons and hair that was, bafflingly, slick with gel and crunchy with mousse. We’re going to a school Christmas disco. I’m 13 and low on disposable income, but every penny I can find goes on make-up – even though my Mum won’t let me wear it out of the house. But she won’t know if I put it on at Vicki’s house. Vicki’s Mum is one of the most glamorous people I’ve ever seen. She gets her hair cut at Toni and Guy – not a salon that will do you a dry trim for a tenner, where you sit beside elderly ladies while staring at sunbleached pictures of mullets. She lets Vicki and me paint our mouths with her bright red Chanel lipstick, for a Christmas treat. I have never felt more beautiful and sophisticated, even though I look like a clown. It doesn’t help that Vicki and I are coated in turquoise rollerball glitter. It’s on our cheekbones, our foreheads, our arms, necks and what would be our cleavage. We are human Christmas trees, and we’re so happy.
Twenty years later, I can buy my own posh lipstick, and apply it in the comfort of my own flat. Nothing else has changed. When December arrives, I approach the prospect of every night out while channelling the aesthetic spirit of the Christmas tree.
There are two schools of thought regarding our festive beauty rituals. The first assumes we’re busy and important, professional and polished. It assumes we’re constantly seeking solutions for the difficult transition from “day to night”, without acknowledging that once the clocks have gone back, night starts at about 4PM. It’s for people whose social lives either take place in big boardrooms or over complicated cocktails. It does not acknowledge those of us who like to transition from day to night by simply changing into some pyjamas.
The other school is my beloved academy of more is more. You’re going to need a quarter ounce of glitter and at least an hour. I don’t want to freshen my lipstick, I want to transform my whole face. I suspect that my female friends and I are such huge fans of Drag Race because it’s the antidote to taupe, an “up yours” to subtlety, a big raspberry to the idea that women aren’t supposed to be as gaudily visible as we want to be. Christmas is when I stop compromising. Christmas comes but once a year, and I will dazzle on my own terms.
When December arrives, I approach the prospect of every night out while channelling the aesthetic spirit of the Christmas tree.
Tarte’s Clay Foundation Stick and brush gives me the dense-but-dewy coverage I crave – I can start with a smooth, forties starlet canvas to build on. Ariane Poole’s Eyeshine is sheer but so showy and shimmery – Crystal Taupe looks like an expensive rose gold, and Graphite is an after hours silver – they’re made to complement or clash with every party outfit and they’re long-wearing. You will never sleepily rub your cheek at midnight and wonder how your eye got all over it. Eyeko’s Liquid Eyeliner and Mascara make you look like you should be the model for the cover of a pulpy seventies thriller called ‘The Girl Who Always Got What She Wanted’ – my lashes are curly and out of control, but the Black Magic Mascara is the only thing that can corral them.
In 2018, most of us would sooner go out with no knickers on than forget to sort out our eyebrows. Too often, I panic and end up looking like a picture a child drew with a sharpie. Benefit’s Brow Contour Pro, designed to look like an excellent stocking filler multi colour biro, is made for idiots like me, and I can define, darken and highlight and look more Hollywood than horror show. I am also in love with Benefit’s Big Sexy Lip Kit – with a name like that, the kit could simply be a box of bees that fly out and sting you on the mouth and I’d still adore it. Happily it’s a clever combo of long-lasting lipstick tipped with lipliner, in a great range of pinks and reds. Vicki’s Mum would love it. Finally, Laura Geller’s Body Frosting in Hawaiian Glow has magical powers. Put it on your shoulders and smoulder at strangers. Put it on your face and look like you’re being lit from within by candles, like a beautiful pumpkin. All you need is a few tonnes of turquoise glitter, and you’re ready to party!