A Beauty Editor's Go-To Holiday Look This Year Is So Easy: How To Get It At Home
I simply can't help myself: This holiday season I've started to feel all sorts of sparkly again. After two Decembers ruined by the pandemic, this year I'm all about bubbly, lots of laughs, and dressing to the nines (OK, maybe sevens or eights). To prove my point, I'd like to share that I've worn shimmery eye shadow to not one but two holiday dinners so far.
The aesthetic wasn't flashy, however—in fact, it's surprisingly understated. For me at least, the holiday sparkle of 2023 is about less megawatt and more candlelit—less dazzling, and more dashing.
Certainly, I have a hunch that the revival of moody makeup (freshly dubbed "indie sleaze" by the TikTok crowd) has influenced me. As someone who spent her 20s in the era of full-faced YouTube tutorials and pristine, bright Instagram aesthetics, seeing makeup that feels undone is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
I was particularly inspired by makeup artist Donni Davy's advice in our story about makeup aesthetic: "In order to nail the look, it really shouldn't look like you put any real effort, which actually makes it pretty easy to achieve," Davy says.
And that's exactly how I'm approaching my holiday glam this year: Just eye-catching enough, (actually) effortless, and not too focused on making sure it's perfect.
How to wear and apply a modern smoky eye.
Recently I was rummaging through a makeup bag looking for a new eyeliner pencil and came across a little pot of Hourglass's Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow in Smoke. It had been ages since I'd worn it, and it made me so happy to become reacquainted with the product. That very night I brushed a small bit along my lash line, paired with a coat of mascara.
It was smoldering—I'm even tempted to say smoky but afraid that will conjure up images of hard-cut creases and piles of pigment. And the early aughts smoky eye this is not.
Rather, the modern smoldering eye is simple. Something you can apply with your fingers, even. No 10-minute-long video tutorial required. In the photo below, I applied the look in the mbg offices between meetings (and I was only a tiny bit late to the second video call).
I've found the easiest way to achieve it is to tight-line the eye area with a black pencil liner (I'm into this Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner in Black.) Celebrity makeup artist Jenny Patinkin once told me that you should get the liner as close to the waterline as possible—and that when you can hear the lashes ruffling as you etch on the liner, that's when you know you're in the right spot. The idea here is to create a base for the shadow to eventually blend with, creating that hazy effect.
From there, I go in with my shadow of choice: Gunmetal, a dark brassy metallic that brings just the right amount of edge. I've been drawn to options that have a warm taupe undertone because I think it works better with my complexion and eye coloring—but there are stunning shades that skew more silver, cool-toned, and mauve.
For the more creamy-textured shadows, I use my fingers to apply. (My preferred method of application for most days.) I simply pick up a small amount of pigment with my ring finger, and smudge it into the lash line, blending out onto the lid. (Depending on the shadow of choice, you may need to work to blend it a bit more thoroughly—some creams are dense with pigment.) I repeat this process until I get the desired intensity, which is thick at the root, but then dissipates out as you work up the lid. I don't apply anything higher than my crease.
For powders, it's a similar situation, but instead of my fingers, I pick up a small shadow brush, like this Line Smudge Brush from Jenny Patinkin. But I always start at the lash line and blend out and up. It's sultry, appropriately messy, and takes all of a few seconds. This glam should be completed with a coat or two of mascara to really play up the drama.
And that's it! I promise you don't need to be a pro to get the hang of it. I'm quite rusty with my eye makeup application, and I find it oh-so-easy to pull off. It's quick, too, which means you can spend less time getting ready—and more time sparkling.
Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow in Smoke
Roen Beauty 52 Eyeshadow Palette
Victoria Beckham Beauty Lid Lustre In Mirror
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.