Party perfect make-up: how to create this season's most eye-catching beauty looks

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The Stylist web team
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Just in time for Christmas, Caroline Barnes, UK make-up ambassador for Max Factor, shows us how to create the season’s most eye-catching looks…

Beauty direction: Samantha Silver
Photography: Tony Kim

Make-up has the power to transform, this much we know. A shimmering swipe of Mac’s Strobe Cream can pep up a dull pallor instantly. Despite a festive diet of mince pies and prosecco I can still have cheekbones with the aid of Nars Laguna bronzer. But when it comes to party make-up it will always be the eyes that take centre stage.

And it’s the feline eye that’s firmly on the make-up agenda this season. After last season’s penchant for naked lids we saw a formidable onslaught of liner looks for a/w 2016: heavyweights Kenzo, Versace and Fendi made liner the focal point of their make-up looks as every designer pledged allegiance to elegantly dressed lids.

It’s no surprise, really. For centuries, it’s been the go-to make-up look for women across the globe. From Cleopatra’s soot- ringed smokey eyes to Audrey Hepburn’s delicate flicks, Amy Winehouse’s iconic wings and Adele’s signature liner kicking sexily up at the outer corners, a cat eye is the most alluring and prevailing make-up trend of all time. You can keep your high maintenance red lip, there’s an innate power and simplicity to the womanly curvature of this feline definition. A cultural marker of femininity, crucial to the perceived beauty of the eye is shape. Larger eyes are an indicator of high levels of the female hormone, oestrogen and none of nature’s own has as striking eyes as the cat. Those with high levels are considered to be more fertile than those without, the animal kingdom’s trick for natural preservation. While we can’t do much about colour, eye shape is something we can manipulate with make-up. With just a few well-placed flicks and swipes, elongated almond shapes can be made of smaller and rounder eyes, transforming them into bigger, wider, more awake pools.

Whether your aim this weekend is to nail the feline flick, a beauty zeitgeist no matter what your age, ethnicity or style; or master a simpler evening shadow, you’ll find an eye make-up look over the next few pages in our definitive guide to dressing your eyelids this party season...

Graphic lines

A slick of eyeliner is make-up’s most enduring weapon. Here, the iconic look gets a modern twist. “It’s less flirty, more graphic and razor sharp this season,” explains Caroline Barnes, UK make-up ambassador for Max Factor, who was inspired by the looks backstage at Fendi and Topshop where punk influences reigned supreme.

How to get the look

  • Prep the eyelid with Eyeshadow Primer Potion, £16, Urban Decay, to create a smooth base.
  • Engineer a bold cat-eye by gliding Masterpiece High Precision Liquid Eyeliner £6.99, Max Factor, across the upper lash line starting at the inner corner before lightly sweeping outwards and up towards the brow point, keeping the flick parallel to your brow bone.
  • Using a Silicone Liner Brush, £5.99, Real Techniques, and Eye Paint in Solomon Islands, £18.50, Nars, trace a graphic triangle to follow the shape of the black liner.
  • To finish, adorn the top lashes with two coats of Masterpiece Mascara, £9.99, Max Factor.

Wow lashes

The new lash blueprint shows them off to their full potential rather than merely cloaking them in soot. While the mascara mandate backstage was the more OTT the better at Anna Sui and Christian Dior, separation was key for a look that’s destined to be caught on camera. “The right wand is vital when it comes to making the best of your lashes,” explains Barnes, “I like the wand in the False Lash Epic Mascara [£11.99, Max Factor] because it adapts to your lashes, administering the perfect dose of pigment, and the bristles get right into the roots, combing through to elongate even the shortest of lashes.” Adding a sliver of shimmer on the inner corners makes eyes appear even bigger.

How to get the look

  • Buff Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Radiant Fluid Foundation SPF 15, £32.50, Dior, onto skin to cover blemishes and perfect skin.
  • Pat Photo Finish 24 Hour Shadow Primer, £20, Smashbox, onto eyelids and brush brows into shape.
  • Starting from the inner corners of the eyes, blend Professional Makeup Pigment in Magnetic, £5.50, NYX, up to the brow and work outwards until you reach the centre of the lid.
  • Coat top and bottom lashes with layers of False Lash Epic Mascara, £9.99, Max Factor, and pat Colour Elixir Lipstick in Burnt Caramel 75, £7.99, Max Factor onto lips. Blot and repeat for added staying power.

Party gems

The embellished eye is the ultimate in night-out allure and it wouldn’t be Christmas without a sprinkling of glitter. Brows, lids and cheeks were all aglow on the a/w 2016 catwalks, but it’s much more wearable on just the eyes. Here, Barnes took the smoky eye to another level, delivering a captivating smoulder of darkness by blending copper and gold eyeshadow over lids and sweeping it out towards the temples. Next, she pressed glitter around the edges, encrusting the eye with molten bronze. “It’s not about attaining perfection, with glitter it should feel more like art than make-up,” she explains.

How to get the look

  • Blend Masterpiece Colour Precision Eyeshadow in Coffee, £6.99, Max Factor, across the lids and below the lash line, sweeping outwards to form a rectangular wing.
  • Using Masterpiece Nude Palette Contouring Eye Shadows 02, £11.99, Max Factor, blend the lightest shimmer along lower lash line and into the lower corners.
  • Apply Glitter Shadow Primer, £17, Too Faced, around the outer edges of eyes and across cheekbones before patting Shimmer Dust, £20, Burberry over the top. Leave random specks for a modern finish.
  • Finish the look with a slick of Hot Lips Lipstick in Nude Kate, £23, Charlotte Tilbury.

Stained glass lids

There will always be a place on the beauty agenda for a smoky eye but this season it’s come of age. Gone is the overly-sculpted, contoured eye and in its place is a more molten version, something that we’ve dubbed the stained glass lid. Entirely modern and seen everywhere from Jil Sander to Blumarine and DVF, this high-shine, romantic look couldn’t be more simple to achieve. “It adds highlight and subtle reflections to the face, requiring minimal time and expertise,” explains Barnes.

How to get the look

  • Using a fluffy contour brush, sweep Wild Shadow Pot in Fierce Pink, £4.99, Max Factor across the eyelids and into the sockets.
  • Add gloss to lids with a non-sticky lip balm such as Ointment 101, £10.99, Lanolips. Use your ring finger to dab it over the shadow for a high-shine finish.
  • Define eyes with Excess Longwear Eyeliner in Brown, £6.99, Max Factor on the lower lash line.
  • Apply Lip Color in Bruised Plum, £39, Tom Ford with a lip brush, taking care to trace the outline of the cupid’s bow for a precise finish. Blot and then reapply for a lasting finish.

Additional Words: Malena Harbers
Make-up: Caroline Barnes at Frank Agency using Max Factor
Hair: David Wadlow at Premier Hair and Make-up using Show Beauty and Babyliss Pro
Nails: Jenni Draper at Premier Hair and Make-up using OPI
Styling: Koulla Sergi
Model: Anja Konstantinova at Premier
Cat model: Lara at Amazing Animals