Without fail, I laze my way through the holiday season, in all my candy cane–crusted comforts, until December 31 when panic sets in as I scramble to come up with New Year’s makeup ideas. Someone once told me that the way you spend New Year’s Eve is the way you will spend the year to come. That person was Lauren Conrad on an episode of The Hills and, really, who knows better than LC? So among the cookie decorating, hall decking, ugly-sweater wearing, gift shopping, and resolution making, I make it a priority (albeit a last-minute one) to go out with a bang on New Year’s Eve.
Luckily, I’ve become pretty good at throwing together beauty looks to suit whatever plans arise that year. Using only the contents of my makeup bag and a few household items, I can hack and multitask my way to high-glam glory. And you can too. Keep scrolling for the ultimate procrastinator’s guide to New Year’s Eve makeup.
1. Use Scotch tape and bright eye shadow
Re-create a backstage look for New Year’s Eve even if you don’t possess any professional skills. All you need is an unexpected eye shadow shade and the Scotch Magic Tape ($4) you used a few days prior to wrap presents. Place a strip of tape at a 45-degree angle on the outer corner of each eye. Then, use a small brush to apply a bright cream eye shadow, like Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in 25 Pastel Blue ($23). The tape acts as a stencil, keeping the shadow exactly where you want it.
Create the eye look first, and then you’re free to clean up any smudges with a cotton swab before moving on to the rest of your face.
2. Use concealer to contour
Remember that summer concealer you stashed away because it’s a little too dark for your winter skin tone? Voilà—meet your new contour stick. To create a chiseled party look, trace the wand along your cheekbones, hairline, and jawbone to define your features. Don’t forget to draw two lines on either side of your nose for a slimming effect.
Once your contour lines are drawn, reach for your lightest concealer shade. Apply it under your eyes, to the bridge of your nose, and on the center of your forehead and chin to brighten and highlight. Finally, blend with a dampened Beautyblender ($20).
3. Use blush as eye shadow
Don’t let labels fool you. You can use any makeup product you anywhere. In a pinch, I like to swipe a healthy dose of my go-to blush, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed ($28), into the crease of my eyes. It creates subtle definition and totally passes as an of-the-moment, intentional monochromatic look. Plus, New Year's Eve makeup has never looked so pretty.
4. Use shimmer for your highlight
Here comes another multipurpose trick: Convert your favorite eye shadow into a last-minute highlighter, and use it all over your face. Every eye palette contains at least one iridescent, white-gold shade (for example, the shade Bootycall in Urban Decay’s best-selling Naked2 Palette, $54). Dip your finger into your favorite sheer, pearlescent pan, and deposit all the pigment your heart desires on the tops of your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, and on your Cupid’s bow.
5. Brush your way to a plumper pout
This year saw a slew of exfoliating, plumping, and smoothing lip products hit the market. Trick your fellow New Year’s Eve partygoers into thinking you had a little work done by plumping your lips with a toothbrush. Wet your lips with warm water and then gently brush them in small circular motions with a clean, soft-bristle toothbrush, like Colgate Optic White Toothbrush ($3). Fuller, softer, more naturally pink lips will be revealed. Lock in moisture with your favorite lip balm, and then apply a statement lip color to highlight your newly enhanced pout. Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer in The Queen Is Dead ($22) works perfectly for a New Year’s Eve makeup look.
6. Use a hair dryer on your lashes
Your tried-and-true blow-dryer can up your lash game with one little-known yet super-easy tip. Heat your eyelash curler (my favorite is E.l.f. Cosmetics Eyelash Curler, $2) by holding it under your blow-dryer for 30 seconds. Then curl your lashes to discover more lift and swoop than ever. (Just be sure to test the tool with your fingers first, making sure it’s not too hot for your eye area.) Immediately seal that flutter with a volumizing mascara like Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Chaotic Lash Mascara ($6). Pair with a statement lip, like Covergirl Outlast Longwear + Moisture Lipstick in Vixen Violet ($6), and you're New Year’s Eve makeup will look party-ready with hardly any effort.
7. Try a toning spray to set your makeup
Setting your makeup in place is paramount, especially on a night like New Year’s Eve. After all, you’ll be dancing for hours while snapping plenty of pictures for Instagram. Setting powders are amazing for increasing your makeup’s staying power, but they can be time-consuming and messy, plus you run the risk of flashback. Instead, choosing a spray that will work to set your makeup and control oil at the same time, like Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herb and Rosewater ($7). It’s the perfect size to tote around, and it’s a dual-acting miracle for that 11:54 p.m. touch-up. Spray generously after makeup application and throughout the night to keep everything in place.
Looking for more New Year’s Eve makeup inspiration? This is what NYE beauty looks like around the world.