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Go into any beauty department this month, and what do you see? Gold, silver and bronze galore – enough to make a commodity broker’s mouth water. But beware: when it comes to cosmetics, like investment, the line between just enough and too much is a precarious one so it’s best to exercise some restraint.
“It’s all about balance,” says Bobbi Brown. “If metallic is applied all over, you risk looking washed out, and your features will be competing for attention. So keep it simple by picking one feature to enhance and you’ll look pretty and festive without being overdone.”
“Metallic make-up is more flattering than matt, because rather than absorbing light, a metallic texture will reflect it,” says Fred Letailleur, a make-up artist for Yves Saint Laurent. “A shimmer where the glitter is finely ground instantly illuminates the face.”
Gold, in particular, is the metal of choice this Christmas, from Bobbi Brown’s Old Hollywood to Christian Dior’s Golden Winter and Givenchy’s Ondulations Précieuses limited edition collections. “Gold instantly gives the complexion a fresh, glowing look, making it perfect for the holidays,” says Brown.
However, make-up artist Andrew Gallimore says: “If you’re aiming for understated, choose a product that has gold infused into it, rather than something that’s all sparkles.” Try Dior Diorshow Waterproof Long-Lasting Backstage Eyeliner in Rosy Gold (£18.50) or iridescent taupe liquid YSL Baby Doll Eyeliner in Copper Reflections (£24). Or add gold to lashes with Givenchy Lash Sparkles (£19), a sparkle-infused gel to sweep over mascara so that your lashes catch the light when fluttered.
“Using pale gold shadow to highlight the inner [corner of the] eye by dabbing it on with your little finger is pretty and subtle too,” says Gallimore; for an example, see Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono in Comete (£23.50). To illuminate the skin, Giorgio Armani Eccentrico Star Palette (£60) offers a quartet of shimmering shades to be swept over cheeks and temples to subtly highlight them.
For more intensity, however, “go for silver, as it has the biggest impact,” says YSL’s Letailleur (Lancôme’s Ombre Hypnôse Eyeshadow Sparkling, £17.50). “Then there are new pearls tinted with deeper tones, like navy or gunmetal, which give a hint of metallic but not in such an obvious way.”
Drama can be created by using “dark, metallic eyeshadow close to the lashline”, says make-up artist Caroline Barnes. “Then smudge it out. This creates the kind of light and shade that you can’t get with glitter. To avoid product fallout, push it on to the lid rather that sweeping it on, as the colour can fan on to cheeks.” All four of Lancôme’s Hypnôse Ultra Dazzling Colours (£21 each), including bold silver Diamant Argenté and the wearable green Emeraude Eternelle, come in a soft mousse formula that blends easily and has an almost wet-look finish. Likewise, Chanel Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in Fatal (£24) is a smouldering, soft red-bronze cream, while those partial to powder might prefer Nars Cinematic Eyeshadow in cool pewter shade Bad Behaviour (£18) or Max Factor Wild Shadow Pot in Ferocious Black (£6.99).
As for lips, paler complexions can add a wash of pink gold gloss such as Bobbi Brown’s High Shimmer Lip Gloss in Candlelight, £19, while Barnes recommends “a Medusa gold or bronze with a dark lip liner for black skins, which on dark complexions looks incredible”.
If you want to add sparkle but keep facial highlighting subtle, there is always the nail option: try Bobbi Brown Glitter Nail Polish in Solid Gold (£11) or Revlon Chroma Chameleon (£6.49), which comes in six iridescent jewel tones from amethyst to topaz.