Model Carolyn Murphy Shares Her Holiday Beauty Secrets and Traditions

The Estée Lauder face on her must-have makeup and her favourite ways to celebrate the season.
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Michelle Villett
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The Estée Lauder face on her must-have makeup and her favourite ways to celebrate the season.
Carolyn Murphy, Bergdorf Goodman anniversary celebration, 2013

Carolyn Murphy at the 2013 Bergdorf Goodman anniversary celebration.

Carolyn Murphy has been the face of Estée Lauder for an amazing 13 years and counting—and it's no wonder, since she lends such an ageless, Grace Kelly-like vibe to the advertisements. Carolyn was first discovered at age 15 in Florida, and went on to model for Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and countless other designers. Now 40 years old, she's still as busy as ever, having recently hosted the first two seasons of 'Project Runway: All Stars' and scoring campaigns for Gap, Max Mara and Jones New York, to name a few.

In this festive Q&A, Carolyn reveals some of her favourite beauty picks, plus her stylish plans for the holiday season:

What is your go-to holiday beauty look?

My go-to holiday look is clean skin with red lipstick and thick mascara. I love Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy lipsticks and will try Insolent Plum this year as my new red.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Insolent Plum

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Insolent Plum

What are your five holiday beauty must-haves?

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Envious:

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Envious

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Envious

Estée Lauder Glittering Stars Pressed Powder Compact:

Estee Lauder Glittering Stars Pressed Powder Compact

Estée Lauder Glittering Stars Pressed Powder Compact

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length + Volume Mascara:

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length + Volume Mascara

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length + Volume Mascara

Estée Lauder Pure Color Intense Kajal EyeLiner in Black:

Estee Lauder Pure Color Intense Kajal EyeLiner

Estée Lauder Pure Color Intense Kajal EyeLiner

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette in Rebel Metal:

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette in Rebel Metal

Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette in Rebel Metal

What is your favourite thing about the holidays and why?

I love the holidays—the nostalgia around the weather changing, fall and winter foods that come into season, fashion and most of all, decorating and gift-giving. My family has always had big celebrations and I continue the tradition with my daughter.

Where are you spending the holidays? Are you traveling anywhere?

This holiday season, we are looking into blending my boyfriend’s family with mine, by renting a house (or two) in a ski destination. So far we have narrowed it down to Vermont; that way we can have Christmas in the city and then hit the slopes. I wouldn't mind a warmer escape thereafter, so plans could change!

Do you have an annual holiday tradition?

For Christmas, we have many antique decorations that go on display, along with decorating our stoop and going upstate to cut down our Christmas tree. We also bake chocolate chip cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve and put carrots out for the reindeer to eat.

How do you stay fit with all the holiday parties? Any secrets you can share?

During the holiday season, it is difficult to stay fit with all the heavy food and wine, but I try to make it to the gym at least three days a week. My biggest secret is to enjoy in moderation and get to the spa to sweat it out—the sauna can not only melt extra pounds, it can keep you from getting sick.

What are your favourite places to shop for gifts and why?

My favorite places to shop for gifts are typically classic New York stores. I love heading uptown to Tiffany's, Bergdorf Goodman, antique shops on Lexington Avenue and a rare vintage bookshop in the Waldorf Astoria hotel. I always choose these places because I like simple but meaningful gifts, but I also love being near Central Park and having a hot chocolate and scones at my favourite hotel, The Lowell.

What is the perfect housewarming gift for the host of the party? 

The perfect housewarming gift is something homemade. I like to make Irish Whiskey marmalade or bake cakes, and then wrap them in holiday printed fabric with big red bows.

What is your favourite holiday song?

My favourite holiday song is "White Christmas" sung by Frank Sinatra. My grandparents had a hi-fi record player and I now have this along with their record collection.

What is the number one gift on your wish list this year? 

My number one wish this year is a planned, family-oriented, National Geographic trip to a third world region. I'd like to give back and teach my daughter the importance of service to others.

What is your attire for holiday cocktail parties?

My attire for holiday parties is usually a black or white dress, I love Chloé, paired with my Nana's pearls and vintage mink wrap.

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