How to meet your beauty deadline

Tis the season for hard work and hard play. But with some insider beauty tips, you shall go to the ball – and the party, and that exclusive pop-up event

Monday? Client drinks; Wednesday is your friend’s Christmas do; and if it’s Friday night, God help us all. For most of the year, we spend an average of 55 minutes a day getting ready to face the world. But once the festive season begins and we’re running between our desks, the latest glühwein pop-up and the office party, we’re lucky to have enough time to draw breath, let alone perfect a cat’s-eye flick. So we called in the experts to find out how to get party-ready whether you have one hour or one minute to do so. On your marks… 


A long, luxurious hour to prepare? Make the most of every minute…

Boost your body
Don’t waste a full 60 minutes musing over what would be the perfect outfit – run yourself a bath instead. Recent research into balneotherapy, or the treatment of disease through bathing, has found that a long soak in hot water benefits your body by raising serotonin levels, lowering blood pressure, improving skin hydration and calming the nervous system by improving oxygen transport. All highly useful when you’re entering party season. 

Add a product such as Neom’s Energy Burst Bath & Shower Drops, £40, with safflower and sunflower oils along with Vitamin E, if you’re planning to bare your legs. The moisturising and reparative ingredients work wonders at healing flaky skin and leave it gleaming.

Indulge your hair

The secret to the longevity of any party-season hairstyle is to let your hair cool down completely after you’ve applied heat. A cooling period allows cuticles to settle back down after styling, eliminating frizz and prompting shine. This is especially important when, according to ghd global brand ambassador Adam Reed, voluminous disco curls are the look this party season. Wrap hair around your tong, curling away from the face before loosening them with your fingers, then leaving them to cool. Reed’s tip? “Position the curls so they ‘strobe’ your face shape by widening the eyes or cheekbones.” 

How to meet your beauty deadline 1

Nail your nails
Well-manicured nails are like a decent pair of heels – they add a touch of elegance no matter what the rest of you is up to. “If your nails look good, you’ll use your hands differently and your gestures become more graceful,” explains nail artist Deborah Lippmann. For red-carpet events, Lippmann’s go-to is any nude shade with a touch of shimmer, as it will gleam under every light, be it natural, spot or candle. For a shade that complements all complexions, try OPI’s Icelanded A Bottle of OPI, £12.50. 

Speedy tans
Tans no longer need to be applied hours in advance. Give your skin a body scrub, then rinse it off in cool water, and you’ll have the perfect canvas for the latest tanning products to adhere to. Apply a tanning product such as He-Shi Sublime Dry Oil, £20, then the clever bit: “Use your hair dryer to blast your body with hot air, activating the DHA tanning agent in your product faster. Rinse away after 45 minutes and skin will appear the right shade of bronze,” says resident tanning expert at London’s W Hotel and celebrity tanner James Harknett. 

Even out end-of-day stressed skin by blending a silicone primer over foundation, then use a metallic eye cream to add an iridescence everywhere

Fake a facial
You don’t need a facial booked in to give your skin a boost. “An hour is plenty of time for a good cleanse at home,” recommends facialist Julia Hart. “A product such as Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, £41, can also be used as a mask. Apply, then use quick pinching movements all over the face. Follow with tapping to stimulate skin and boost micro-circulation – this will give your complexion a natural, healthy bloom.”

Alternating between hot and cold temperatures is another guaranteed radiancebooster. Cool a sheet mask in your fridge and warm your bottle of face oil in a sink full of tepid water. Smooth the oil into your face using upward sweeping motions, then follow with the chilled mask. “Firing up the skin using heat floods the cells with oxygenated blood to create a genuine radiance,” says Hart. “Applying a cold product straight afterwards produces a ‘shock’ to the skin, which has both an anti-inflammatory and toning effect.”


Focus on key areas such as eyes, nails and hair, and you shall go to the ball…

Baby Face
Sales of face masks have increased by 43% this year* and 30 minutes is plenty of time to get transformative results. Decléor’s Prolagène Lift Lifting Flash Mask, £49, even works in just 60 seconds. Containing iris essential oil, it has an anti-glycation effect that stops cells sticking together to form wrinkles. Skin expert Fiona Brackenbury applies it with a special ‘moonwalk’ finger motion. “Place your index and middle finger on your crow’s feet or frown lines then alternate them one at a time, walking them back to the hairline. It will tease the product into lines and iron them out.” Smooth skin sorted. 

All about the eyes
Despite statistics reporting that each of us owns 40 items of make-up**, celebrity make-up artist Carly Hobbs believes you only need three products to enhance your eyes. “Forget complex dark and smoky looks and focus on faster light and glowy ones,” she says. “Take bareMinerals’ Invisible Glow Powder in Medium, £25, and work it across the entire eyelid. Build up the layers and take the shimmer under the lower lashes as well in order to create a halo effect.”

Next, sandwich the nib of your eyeliner between your waterline and your eyelid, and close your eyes. Roll the pencil left to right in the corner for extra definition that will sparkle in photographs. Givenchy Couture Kohl, £17, liquefies into the waterline like butter on warm toast. Finish with layers of mascara – Hobbs swears by Elizabeth Arden’s Lasting Impressions Mascara, £22. Stick it on Adhesive nails offer a style lifeline for the time-poor. Paint and prep your own design in advance or pick out a block colour. Press into place on your nails and you’re done. You’ll get two days of mess-free wear and tear – and it saves trying and failing to paint your nails al desko. 

Pony club
According to research, one in 10 women plan how they’re going to style their hair for a party a fortnight in advance***. For everyone else, ghd creative director Zoe Irwin advises a high pony. “It’s quick, easy and disguises greasy roots, plus the hair doesn’t need washing or drying. It also gives an incredible facelift if you scoop hair up diagonally from your cheekbones.” Run straighteners over the tail and finish with a light glazing of Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray, £25 to get rid of flyaways and add shine to city-polluted hair. 


Be quick, be bold and you’ve got this… 

On a roll 
Derma rollers, which roll microneedles on to skin, help speed up your skin-cell regeneration.’ According to FaceGym founder Inge Theron, just two minutes is enough time to create a natural lifting effect. Apply a face oil to deal with any complexion concerns. “Watermelon seed, juniper berry and strawberry seed help get rid of redness or rosacea, while apricot kernel, almond and citrus oils have brightening properties,” says Theron. Then roll the microneedles from jawline to cheekbones, under the eyes and along your forehead from brows to hairline. Your face will tighten instantly. 

Go low, go low
Yet again, it’s down to the ponytail to save the day, but this time go low and get some artificial help. Hollywood A-list session stylist Jen Atkin advises adding a hair extension such as Beauty Works Invisi-Clip-In, £199, to re-plump unwashed hair. Once secure, gloss over the pony with SHOW Beauty Riche Grooming Balm, £35. Not only does it smooth, it smells gorgeous, so you can skip adding fragrance.

Be bold
Rhea Le Riche, national make-up artist for Laura Mercier, believes that working under pressure can result in mini beauty masterpieces. “With quickness comes confidence, so if you want a thick black-winged eye, just go for it,” she says. “You’ll find it’s much easier than building up to it with thin lines first.”

Powder up
For a quick lip that’ll stay in place, Benefit’s head make-up artist Lisa Potter-Dixon recommends the new powder lip. “Apply your lipstick, then take a blusher in the same shade and brush it on top to create a powdery effect. It will last all night, providing you sip your drinks through a straw.” So swap the martinis for mojitos. Want a ready-made option? Clinique’s Pop Lip Shadow Cushion Matte Lip Powder, £16.50, leaves behind a beautiful dusty finish. 


Take a deep breath. It’s all down to grips and glitter now…

Get a grip
Give thanks to the humble Kirby grip – it’s about to be your hairstyle saviour. “Create a dramatic side-parting, pull your hair across your forehead, then secure with grips just above where your eyebrow ends,” says Atkin of the three-minute party do. If you have them handy, ornate add-ons say party, but regular grips will do. Set the look with hairspray to keep things slick or smooth on styling cream to avoid strands roaming free.

Quick skin fixes
Even out end-of-day stressed skin by blending a silicone primer over foundation, then use a metallic eye cream to add an iridescence everywhere – limbs included. Stila’s Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow, £23, isn’t sticky, making it perfect to stripe down shins or between your cleavage.

Brush your brows with a fibre gel to add volume, then rub a clear gloss or balm over lashes before adding mascara

Colour me quick
The speediest of make-up applications comes from a crayon. Swipe across your lips with the nib, then use your fingers to smudge over cheeks and eyelids to reawaken sallow skin.

Just add sparkle
Last-minute blemish? Fine lines? Dehydrated skin? We didn’t notice, because we were too busy eyeing up the glitter you’ve got going on. Shimmer is basically make-up’s best distraction when you’re in a hurry. “I like Dior Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Hologram, £27.50,” says Dior pro make-up artist Jamie Coombes. “Use it on lips, eyelids or cheekbones.”

Press reset on tired make-up by boosting brows and lashes. Brush your brows with a fibre gel to add volume, then rub a clear gloss or balm over lashes before adding mascara. It will stop your lashes looking dry and crunchy without having to remove your original makeup. Hang tight Time to make use of the cuticle oil that’s been on your desk all year. “Apply a clear top coat of varnish over bare nails, then drip on the cuticle oil,” says Mikela Tako, nail technician at Neville’s. “Your nails will dry in seconds and look super-shiny.”