Many women -- especially if they're not cosmetics experts -- face a conundrum when they're applying makeup for a night on the town. How do you create that va-va-voom effect without going overboard? Should you try a new technique or color, or just try to amp up the basic makeup you always wear? And how much is too much?
Here's our most important piece of evening-makeup advice: Try to rein it in. In your effort to create a really special look, it'll be tempting to go for broke on every part of your face. But it's better to pick one feature for dramatic treatment and leave the rest as neutral as possible. We're definitely proponents of straying from your makeup comfort zone, but you'll end up looking like a relic from "Dynasty" with smoky eyes, red lips and magenta blush. If you want dark eyes, pick a sheer gloss for your lips. And if you're dying to wear that fuchsia lipstick, go easy on the eyeliner and mascara.
It is possible to make yourself look spectacular without having to apply 16 pounds of makeup. Here are five subtle tips for evening makeup that will work for just about anyone.
Try False Lashes
If you're not a big makeup-wearer, the idea of fake eyelashes might be a little intimidating. But if you're having visions of applying a full, spidery set to your entire eye, don't worry. Just a few individual lashes on the upper outside corners of your eyes can really make them pop. It does take a bit of practice to get the hang of applying them, but once you've mastered it, we predict that false lashes will become a regular part of your night-out makeup routine.
Don't worry -- we're not asking you to sport a glittery green streak on your upper lids. Remember, we're trying to be subtly fabulous. But we do suggest shimmery gold eyeliner -- it adds understated sparkle and works well with most skin tones. You can minimize the glitter factor by drawing the gold on top of a layer of brown liner and sticking with neutral shadow. Top it off with a coat of mascara, and you'll have perfectly festive eyes.
We suppose nail polish doesn't technically qualify as makeup, but you can't ignore the manicure when you have a special night out. Dark nail polish -- blue, purple and gray are our favorites right now -- adds to the drama factor without competing with your face. Why go with a demure French manicure or baby pink when you can go sexy and dark?
Many women live in fear of red lipstick, thinking that they can't handle such a bold color. But anyone can pull off red lips -- and a big date or special event is the perfect time to start. If you've never gone red, don't start off with a heavily pigmented or matte lipstick: Pick something sheer. And if you do go all-out, apply carefully. Always use a lip brush and lip liner.
If you're looking for a dramatic, high-impact look that screams "evening," a smoky eye is the way to go. Creating a smoky eye isn't all that difficult, even though there's a lot of shadow involved -- but you should stick with a more neutral palette to avoid color overload. There's also a fine line between shimmer and glitter: A slight sparkle is great, but too much and you're in showgirl territory.
When was the last time you cleaned out your cosmetics? HowStuffWorks talked to an LA-based makeup artist for advice on how often we need to toss it.
- Beautylish. "Evening Makeup Inspiration." July 20, 2011. (April 28, 2012) http://www.beautylish.com/a/vpvmg/evening-makeup
- Guglielmetti, Petra. "12 New Evening Makeup Ideas." December 2009. (April 28, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/beauty/2009/12/12-new-evening-makeup-ideas#slide=1
- Marie Claire. "Get the Celebrity Look: Smoky Eyes." Sept. 10, 2011. (April 28, 2012) http://www.marieclaire.com/hair-beauty/trends/smoky-eyes
- O Magazine. "O's Step-by-Step Guide to Dramatic Evening Eyes." December 2009. (April 28, 2012) http://www.oprah.com/style/How-to-Apply-Evening-Eye-Makeup-Makeup-Makeover
- Way, Gina. "5 Updated Evening Makeup Looks." Real Simple. (April 28, 2012) http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/makeup/5-updated-evening-makeup-looks-10000001690368/index.html