You've decked the halls and trimmed the tree. Now it's time to put a little holiday sparkle into your own appearance.
Whether you have a wonderful new dress in mind or plan to make do with an old favorite, a new hairstyle and updated makeup can provide the finishing touch.
A holiday party is the perfect occasion for trying out one of the new upswept hairdos that are once again in fashion. Beauty salons are back in the business of hairdressing these days as women look to their salons not only for cuts, but also for sets, chignons, up 'dos and big barrel curls.
We've "really gone back to the method of handcrafting the hair," says Heidi Taylor, national education manager for the Sebastian International line of hair products. "If you look at today's salons, a lot of them are now offering, in addition to the menu of haircutting and coloring and perming, makeovers for a day-into-night kind of look."
"All the fashion magazines are showing a lot of set hair coming back, and it's really interesting to see the younger kids getting into it," confirms Lola Jones, owner of Lola Inc. in Mount Washington. "They're coming in for sets for that evening, not to keep it in all week. It's just to have a party 'do type thing."
Women are also snapping up curling irons and hot rollers to create the styles themselves. Yesterday's curlers, which often took 10 minutes or more to heat up, have been replaced by high-tech models such as the new molecular sponge rollers. Since they heat up so quickly, it's possible to produce a 'do in just 10 or 15 minutes.
For long hair, Tony Sartori, co-owner of the Sartori 2000 and 2001 salons, suggests an "uptown party girl" look. "Gather the hair into a top knot, and leave some of the ends out. Spray the ends with liquid shaper, and create spiral curls with a curling iron. Then you can separate them with your fingers."
"You don't want a tight set," says Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure magazine, which is devoted to the subject of beauty. "Shake your head around and not have your hair be too perfect. That really looks attractive now.
"I think that the really deadly thing in holiday hair is to try to compete with the Christmas tree," says Ms. Wells. "You kind of have to realize that you don't want to be spangled and bedecked and too ridiculous looking."
Overuse of hair sprays and gels is another party pitfall. Hair may have a '60s influence, but the stiff, shellacked beehive is definitely a thing of the past. "The trend is to have products that are very weightless in feel," says Sebastian's Ms. Taylor. "Even in doing finger-wave sets and large, loopy curls, we're using lighter holdproducts. Women want hair that's still touchable and still soft."
Temporary hair coloring can provide hair with an extra-special glow. "It's a wonderful way for women to get that temporary change that they sometimes want during the holidays," says Ms. Taylor. "We're looking at beautiful polished ambers and copper glows in the hair, and the gingers and gold blond to really achieve that golden red that is so popular during the holidays."
A simple but elegant hair ornament is an easy way to achieve a festive look. "The headband is one of the big things now," says Boris Kliot, owner of Riviera, which makes hair accessories. "They're good for short, medium or long hair." Some choice holiday styles include a gold-sequined headband and one wrapped with chiffon.
Or take a tip from Chanel and put a flower in your hair. "The classic Chanel camellia, pinned into hair on the side or on the top or in the back of a chignon, looks really good," says Ms. Wells.
When it comes to holiday makeup, women traditionally go for the glamour, and this year is no exception. "Whatever shade statements are popular during the year go completely out the window for holiday," says Anne Carullo, senior director of new product development for Max Factor. "During the holiday, people want to be dressed up. Everybody wants to shine and sparkle on their own, and they like to choose a color and shade to draw attention to them."
Ms. Carullo favors an "updated '60s look," with champagne pink or rose lips and nails, and black liner and mascara on the eyes. However, eyeliner shouldn't be applied with too heavy a hand; the preferred look is '60s-dramatic, but "more sophisticated and downplayed."
And what '60s-influenced look would be complete without false eyelashes? A whole lash strip exaggerates eyes and might be just the thing for a dazzling party face. Individual eyelashes, applied with tweezers and adhesive at the outer corners of the eye, add an emphasis that's slightly more subtle.
Ms. Wells feels that a more natural face is the most flattering, even at party time. "Even though, at holiday season, you want to make a special effort, and you're going to parties and you want to just do something a little bit out of the ordinary, you don't want to lose sight of your natural beauty and start looking all painted and strange," she says. "Keeping a brown undertone in everything manages to let you get away with a lot without looking garish. If you're using gold on the eyelids, you should use a brown gold rather than an all-out gold."
Carmella Sartori, co-owner of Sartori 2000 and 2001, also recommends a natural look. "You want a look of depth," she says. "You sculpt and shape the cheekbones with blush and shadower, and dust along the jaw line and the crease of the eye. The blush colors are a dark cinnamon and a fleshy pink tone, and you buff it all with a very light powder. It's very beautiful, but very earthy." The emphasis is on the lips, which are highlighted with a frost.
"I think making sure that your face isn't just covered in sparkles is really important," says Ms. Wells. "You just don't want to look as if you've overdone the tinsel."
Wigging it instead
Set hair has made a strong comeback this season, but not every woman has the skill to create an impeccable 'do, or the time to let a hairstylist do it for her. Here's one increasingly popular route to picture-perfect hair in a hurry: put on a wig or hairpiece.
Once thought of as strictly for grandmothers and aging movie stars, wigs are finding favor with time-pressed younger women and those who simply want a fun, festive look. "Wigs are very strong now," says Lola Jones, owner of Lola Inc. "Our employees wear them sometimes, and that always gets the sales going. If we wear them, it's like, 'Oh my God, love your hair.' 'Oh, it's a wig.' We've done real well with them."
Most wig-wearing women aren't trying to fool their friends into thinking their new hairdo is the real thing. "They're kind of wearing them as an accessory, like you would a piece of jewelry," says Ms. Jones. "We're selling a lot of wigs that look like wigs, like white wigs, short white bobs, and real bright reds."
Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure magazine, agrees that artificial hair can add panache to any party look. "I think that it's nice to have a sense of humor," she says. "There are great hairpieces, if you're in the mood to be a little bit wild. There are a lot of hairpieces that were shown on the runways that were different colors, like ringlets in silver. You can kind of pin those on the back of a chignon."