Style & Beauty

Update Your Look for the Holidays

These tips from the pros will help you step out in style

By Lola Augustine Brown

The holidays provide a great excuse to have fun with your look. We consulted beauty experts across Canada to get tips for looking your best at all those parties and family gatherings.

Stylish Nails for the Season

Classic red nails are very popular this year, says Tamara Di Lullo, owner of Montreal’s Candy Nail Bar and educator/ambassador for CND nail products.

When using red, or any hyper-pigmented colour, you should use a base coat to stop it from staining your nails. Di Lullo suggests using a base such as CND’s Ridge Effects, which will fill in all the ridges in your nails and give you a smoother surface to work on.

“As we get older, our nails get more ridges because our nails are dryer and a little more brittle, so a product like this is great to combat that, plus it will act as a barrier between your nail and the colour,” she says.

If you lack skills with nail polish, Di Lullo has the following tips for perfect painting: Always dehydrate your nail a little with rubbing alcohol to remove anything greasy and aid adhesion. Use light coats—two thin coats are always better than one thick one; be sure to remove excess polish from the brush before applying the colour to your nail so that you don’t flood the side wall of your nail or the cuticle.

Hot New Cuts

Embracing a new hairstyle is an immediate way to shake things up. Grace Tartaglia, Revlon professional educator, says that when choosing a new style, you want your hair to be full of texture with a moderate amount of volume and lots of movement in the hair.

“Some short hairstyles for older women that are currently popular include bobs, pixies, well-shaped curls, and sassy feathered styles for the holidays,” Tartaglia says. “The key here is choosing the right hairstyle and cut for older women and not blindly pursuing fads or trends.”

Your stylist will be able to advise on a cut that will work for you. “A great haircut is customized to work with your features and include natural growth correction; then it will be easy to style and you won’t have bad hair days,” Tartaglia says. “If your hair is layered, there’s almost always softness. Hard geometric cuts may be fun and exotic but aren’t normally sexy on the average woman. But of course, there’s always that woman out there who breaks all the rules and makes geometric, neon hair look fabulous!”

The Eyes Have It

A classic smoky eye is still in style and perfect for parties. Deborah Williams, makeup artist and author of The Grace Factor: How to Look & Feel Your Best in the New Midlife, advises building your eye makeup in layers, using the eyeshadow you’ve worn through the day as a base and adding to that to create depth and shape.

When choosing a mascara, Williams says you should go for one that will add thickness as well as length, and when applying, be sure to pull it up and away from the eye to create lift.

A Facial for Great Skin

If you’ve been neglecting your skin or you want a boost to stop you looking tired, treat yourself to a facial for immediate results.

“When you’re able to stimulate the tissue, you increase blood flow, which helps nourish the skin so that it looks more vibrant,” says Brittany Hays, an aesthetician at Tuscan Spa at Villa Eyrie Resort on Vancouver Island. “On top of that, your therapist is exfoliating and applying concentrated mineral serums after that. So you’re really plumping up the skin cells. All of that together makes a huge difference to the appearance of your skin.”

Blow-Dry Like a Pro

“To get full volume, work the tips of your fingers in the roots of your hair as you dry it,” says Rodrigo Araneda, owner of ÖLab Coiffeurs in Montreal and member of the Wella Design Team. “Wait until your hair is 75 per cent dry before you start using a brush, always drying the hair in the direction that you want it to fall. Once your hair is dry, use the flatiron on the lowest temperature you can get away with using to get rid of any frizziness. Be sure to use a thermal protecting product to protect the hair. I love Thermal Image Heat Protection Spray from Wella, which really helps smooth and protect the hair from heat.”

Beautiful Brows

As you’ve probably noticed, full brows are in style, but you can fake fuller if yours are more sparse, Williams says.

“Start by filling in the brows with a cream eyeliner, add a little eyeshadow, and then comb it through your brows. Doing it this way, you’ll never turn out looking like Groucho Marx.” For white or very pale brows, Williams advises going a quarter-shade darker when you fill them in, but for medium blonde or darker, go a quarter-shade lighter.

For brows that aren’t in great shape, Williams advises getting them shaped professionally at least once, as this will give you a great template to work with.

Makeup That Lasts

Williams advises using a makeup primer to help everything stay put all day and night, and says that if you’re using a cream or liquid foundation, you should use a dusting of powder to set your makeup. “Then, just before you’re ready to go out, use a finishing powder to give a little illumination, which is incredibly flattering. It’s like using a filter on a camera,” Williams says.

Lips That Wow

As with nails, red lip colours are on trend right now and can be worn beautifully by mature women so long as they pick a formula that’s not too matte and more of a wearable, soft-looking hue, says Sharon Rai, a master hair and makeup artist in Victoria. “Think deep berry tones, dark purple, warm chestnut, silk mauve, classic candy apple, and reds,” she says. “You could also try something with a shiny finish to make the lips look moisturized and modern rather than dated.”

For lip colour that lasts all night, Rai suggests the following: First exfoliate your lips, removing all the dead skin, then apply a lip primer, which will fill in all the lines, creating a smooth base for your lip colour. Then use a lipliner to line and fill in your lips after this step, and then take a lip brush and apply the lipstick in layers, blending and pressing it on the lips. Finish off with a small amount of gloss in the centre of the lip.

Vitamin C for Your Face

“If you feel that your skin has lost some of its vibrancy, or you have dark spots that are annoying you, then products containing vitamin C are your best friend,” says Hays. “The ascorbic acid helps to refine the skin, to exfoliate and tighten it up. It also boosts collagen production and helps speed up the turnover of skin cells and healing.” You’ll find many products containing vitamin C at your local drugstore or beauty counter, so this is a fast and easy at-home skin fix.

New Hair Colours

’Tis the season to look fabulous, so why not go for a bold new colour? Araneda says that there are lots of fun new trends that look great on mature women.

“For those with grey hair, the big trend is light pastels, such as peach, coral, and golden roses. I have clients wearing those colours and loving them, especially because those colours are low-maintenance,” he says. “Because they are so pale, they don’t look bad as they grow out, either.”

For those of us not embracing our grey, Araneda suggests avoiding dark blocky colours around your face, as this isn’t flattering to more mature skin. “Go for a colour with multi-tones of highlights in several colours to add lots of movement to the hair,” he says. “This brings a beautiful balance to your face and is more youthful-looking.”

Don’t Rush

Araneda says that the best advice he can give to a woman when it comes to looking her best over the holidays is, “Give yourself the afternoon to invest in yourself; don’t get ready in a rush, and give yourself that extra time to blow-dry properly or do whatever you need to do.”

Photo: iStock/plprod.