Your Essential Beauty Prep Before a Holiday Party

Your get-ready plan.
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Your get-ready plan.

Do you ever have more fun GETTING READY for a party than you do at the party itself? It's happened to me a lot, actually. But maybe not so surprising when you consider my apartment could give Sephora a run for its money.

Anyway! You definitely don't need a truckload of products to get party-ready. Just the right ones. (And a hot dress.)

On that note, I've rounded up a few tips and product suggestions to help you get ready—and recover from—your next holiday shindig.

The Night Before: If you know you've got a special event coming up, it's worth putting in a little advance effort when it comes to your skin. And you know what that means... yes, EXFOLIATION! I'm not, in general, an advocate of overdoing it—this is where I part company with many derms, at least the ones who try to push their chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments no matter what your skin type. (My "aha" moment was a talk I attended where Burt's Bees' VP of R&D explained how manufacturers KNOW excessive exfoliation contributes to long-term damage... it just gives you short-term results because it triggers inflammation. That's why those oxygen facials make you look so good—your poor skin is trying to recover!)

So what's a healthy level of exfoliation? It really depends on the strength of what you're using, but once or twice a week is probably a good starting point. I like the sound of this new product from StriVectin: the Overnight Facial Resurfacing Serum ($68, at select Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, The Bay, Holt Renfrew and Sears stores across Canada). While facial scrubs manually buff off dead skin cells, this formula uses plant-based enzymes to do the same job. Plus you get other ingredients (like red algae and willowherb) that minimize large pores and even out your colour. Sounds like a good investment to me!

Another exfoliating product I just LOVE right now, in case you missed that post, is Biologique Recherche Paris' Lotion P50. I use it twice daily.

Before You Go Out: Ever noticed that after a night of too many cocktails, you wake up to some crazy-ass new wrinkles? They're not really aging (at least that's what I tell myself). It's dehydration. Which is fine when you've got a few days to recover—bring on the Gatorade—but what to do when you've got a back-to-back holiday party schedule?

The answer is that you need to attack the problem both inside and out. Drink gallons of water and consider a few sachets of something like Emergen-C, a tasty little powder that restores lost electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins... and basically anything else the alcohol has killed. Next: you need to put moisture back into your skin. I'd slather on a hydrating face mask (I like Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Masque because it's chock full of hyaluronic acid, but not oily). And to combat those newborn crow's feet? Try one of the new high-tech cloth masks on the specific trouble zone—something like Elizabeth Grant Biocollasis Complex Advanced Cellular Age Defense Eye Power Pads on your eyes for 15 minutes would work wonders, I reckon.

Finally, when it comes to your makeup, it's all about the big decision: EYES or LIPS? For the former, Maybelline New York's EyeStudio eyeshadow quads ($11.99) just arrived on my desk and they are simply AMAZING. Come in a zillion different colour palettes—all very sparkly and happy-looking. If you prefer lips, a product I'm loving right now is Gosh Velvet Touch Lipstick ($15) in Hot'n Sweet, a beautiful cool red.

Take With You: Have you discovered the joy that is a purse-sized sample of perfume? I don't know why, but skinny little bottles that I can tuck into my makeup bag make me so very happy. And they're so affordable! Just out is this one: Garage GRG Mini Spray Perfume ($12.90 for 10 mL, at Garage stores across Canada). It's cheap and cheerful, and I actually do like this scent. (I'll wager that men will, too. Read up on the whole concept of Ageless Anti-Age Perfume if you need more details.)

When You Get Home: Of course, you would never fall asleep without removing your makeup... right? Just in case, though, you might want to tuck something like Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets Beauty Sleep Restoring Skincare Palette (available at Holt Renfrew and The Bay flagship stores in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) into your handbag. (Well...if your bag is big enough to hold more than your credit card.) This little jar is GENIUS and I'm totally in love with it. It opens up to two different compartments: one with a non-oily face cream and the other a nourishing lip balm. Clever AND chic.

And the last thing I'll leave you with (after what turned out to be an EPIC post)? Just a little tune to get you in the mood.