How To Make Your Holiday Makeup Look Super Fancy

Photo: Greg Allen/REX USA.
With the holidays and New Year’s Eve fast approaching, everyone and their mother is breaking out the red lipstick and smoky eyeshadow as their go-to festive look. Now, there’s nothing wrong with red lips and a smoky eye, but if you’re looking to stand out this year, we have something a little more unique for your consideration: gold leaf.
Yes, those crinkly sheets of gold that you may have seen at the craft store can be used as a beauty tool — and a really neat one at that. It’s usually pretty inexpensive, and it’s also surprisingly versatile. You can use it for nail art, to decorate your hair, gild your eyelids, and more. Used sparingly, you can create a beauty look that's unexpected, but not overdone or tacky. A hint of gold leaf in your hair or by your eyes lends just the right amount of glamour for a special night.
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First, you’ll need to get your hands on some gold leaf. Real gold leaf is the safest kind to use on your skin and near your eyes, but it will be more expensive and harder to work with because it is delicate. Another option is the imitation kind, which needs to be used with caution near the eyes but won’t tear and flake quite as much as the real thing. It’s also cheaper. You should be able to find both kinds at your local arts-and-crafts store. Now, read on for inspiration and instructions on what to do once you get your hands on it.
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Photo: Via Dean & Deluca.
The fashion crowd loves a good gold-leaf eye. In July 2011, Emma Watson showed up to the Deathly Hallows Part 2 New York premiere with a smoky eye accented at the corners with flecks of gold leaf, and in the Fendi Spring 2012 show models sported a thick layer of gold leaf extending all the way up to their brows. Watson’s look is probably the better option for real life — it’s much more wearable.

Start with a smoky eye that extends outward in a soft cat-eye shape; this dark base will allow the gold flecks to really stand out. Take the gold foil and carefully break it into small pieces, preferably in a few different sizes for variety. We suggest using scissors and clean hands.

Decide where each piece of gold leaf is going to go, and then apply each piece to the skin using tweezers. Gold leaf will usually stay on the skin on its own, but it’s a good idea to add a small amount of eyelash glue to keep it in place the entire night. If you don’t have eyelash glue, Vaseline, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are all alternatives for making the gold leaf stick — just know that it will be more likely to slide around. Don’t forget to add mascara and a nude lip!
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Photo: Via Stila.
If you’re not into using gold foil near your eyes, there are alternatives to getting that golden eye. Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in Comex Gold is a gorgeous golden eyeshadow, while Urban Decay Heavy Metal Loose Glitter in Goldmine is somewhere between the two. It won’t look as chunky as gold foil but it will stand out more than gold shimmer shadow.
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Photo: Via Osis+.
Here’s a gorgeous hair tutorial that everyone can do, no matter what type of hair you have — short or long, curly or pin-straight. It’s also extremely customizable. Step one is to to do your hair however you’d like. (Easy, right?) You could pin it up in the back and tease it into large clouds like at the Lela Rose Spring 2014 show, or do nothing to it at all.

The important part is step two: Take flecks of gold foil and sprinkle it liberally on top of your hair. The key is to make the flecks the right size — too small and it will look like dandruff, too big and it will look silly. It’s also best to concentrate the gold leaf in one area, such as using it on an updo or braid, instead of all over your head. The last and final step is to set the look with a generous amount of hairspray.
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Photo: Via Make Up For Ever.
If you have a center part, a great idea is to fill it in with gold foil as seen in Suno's Fall 2014 show. Simply break the gold foil into pieces small enough to fit into your part, and use a small makeup brush to dab Vaseline on top of the gold to keep it in place.

Or, if you’d prefer, gold liquid eyeliner is an easy alternative to putting gold leaf in your part. It will be faster and easier to apply, and more likely to stay put. Gold eyeshadow works too — just make sure to liquify it with something like jojoba oil before brushing it on.
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Photo: Via Sally Hansen.
Gold foil can easily be applied to nails to create nail art with an impact. Gently use tweezers to place pieces of the foil, in whatever kind of shape or pattern you like: small flakes on an accent nail, triangles at the tip of the nails, a marbled effect all over, or gold foil on the entire nail. Place the gold on top of slightly wet nail polish in a fun color (or just a clear basecoat if you’d like to have the gold be the focal point). You can then file off any excess gold leaf with a nail file and set it in place with a quick-drying topcoat.
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Photo: Via Vaseline.
This look is not for the timid — nor the hungry, nor the loquacious. If you want to make an impact, and you’re pretty sure you won’t be using your lips much for the next few hours, a gold-leaf lip is the most fashion-forward way to go. First off: yes, you can put gold leaf on your lips — but, ONLY if it is the edible food-grade kind. As long as you’re using that kind, you can go crazy. The best way to do this would be to break the gold leaf into very small pieces and then use lip gloss, Vaseline, or even honey to make it stick to your lips. It probably won’t last long but it will be gorgeous while it does.

A lot of work for such a temporary beauty look? Yes. Worth it for the million Instagram likes? Completely.
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Photo: Via NYX.
If you insist on a more practical way to wear gold lips, there is a small amount of gold lipstick options available that can come close to the gold-leaf look. For those on a budget, try the new Nyx Wicked Lippie in Mischievous or, for a sheerer gold, see if you can get your hands on the limited edition Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Last Lip Color in Sunset Stripped. If you want to spend a little more for your gold lips, you can’t go wrong with mixing clear lip gloss and the highly pigmented OCC Loose Colour Concentrate in Triptych for a gorgeous, metallic gold lip color.
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Photo: Via Urban Decay.
If you want to go all out and apply gold foil to your skin, just be careful to avoid irritation. If you’re not using pure gold foil, check that the imitation gold foil does not irritate your skin by doing a patch test first. Once you’ve done that, you can use Urban Decay Bondage Weightless Makeup Adhesive to make the gold leaf stay. It’s a clear, water-based adhesive that washes off with water and can be used anywhere. Try applying gold leaf on your cheekbones as an alternative to highlighter, or under your eyes as a more exciting way to cover up dark circles than concealer.
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Photo: Via Tattly.
We also love the trend of gold tattoos. Try the Tattly Gold Floral Tattoo or choose from a large selection at Flash Tattoos. They’re temporary, but you’ll wish they weren’t.
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