Special Occasion Makeup: It's My Last Chance!

I'm graduating, so I really want to pull off my best-ever makeup look for my final university event. Help!
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Publish date:
June 6, 2013
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lipsticks, mac, maybelline, Benefit, mascaras, lip pencils, brows, bb creams, lip liners, max factor, parties

OK, it’s not really my last chance to look good EVER--I hope my life post-university won’t be quite that grim--but I’m graduating in July.

I’m currently trying to prepare for my last significant event as a student, hunting for a dress and shoes and already thinking about makeup. This is a minefield for me. As a general rule, the more “done up” I am, the less comfortable I feel; and six months to a year after any significant event, I get that “What was I thinking?” complete disavowal of whatever style and beauty decisions I made at the time.

But this time I have a plan of action: I’m going to look back at the handful of formal events I’ve been to at university, keep the good and discard the bad, and attend the final celebrations looking effortlessly flawless (maybe)... if I haven’t already spoilt the “effortless” bit of that illusion by making my housemates and houseguests bear witness to hours of frustrated internet shopping.

So I’ve been through my old photos from these three years. Does anyone else hate looking at photos that are more than a year old? I feel dislocated in time!

The results are mixed. My university has a Christmas Ball every year, a good landmark for me to track my formal beauty styles. First year me (bottom right) was evidently a horrible little enfant terrible, with a faded orange/grey befringed Vidal Sassoon Academy student crop, indeterminate makeup--I think I see eyeliner?--and a habit of wearing my bad glasses to formal events. (Not to be confused with a bad habit of wearing glasses to formal event--I’m sure a lot of you can pull that one off.) Also, note the escapee bra strap; nothing says formal glamour like visible underwear.

Second year me (top right) had a tiny proto-bob and had thankfully figured out liquid eyeliner and lipstick, but had also suffered at the hands of an overzealous eyebrow threading. Poor little brows.

Third year me (left) at least looks appropriately glittery and festive, but maybe it’s a little too much? I don’t know. At least the brows have recovered.

Now that my little trip down memory lane is over, I think this time I’ve got to do something a little different. My graduation (everyone’s, not just mine--I’m not that popular) is being celebrated with a Summer Ball. Unlike the “Christmas! Glitter! Magic!” ethos of previous years, I need this to be fresh and sunny but still formal, so here’s my plan so far.

For my base, I’ve used Maybelline Dream Fresh BB rather than foundation, and I’m going to be sparing with the powder; I don’t want to look too uniformly matt, as hopefully my seasonal freckles will have come out properly by then.

I used my fingertips to apply a small amount of blush high up from my cheekbones to my temples and touch up with concealer under the eyes, along the bridge of my nose (is this weird?--I feel like I have a permanent red glasses mark) and on my chin, the main breakout culprit.

I can’t go anywhere without my strong brows. Currently I’ve got a rather rubbish cheap eyebrow pencil that is sadly waxy, but what I’m really coveting is Benefit Brow Zings.

Unusually for me, I’m keeping my eye makeup minimal--just a couple of coats of mascara and maybe a touch of light neutral shadow to brighten my lids. My favourite is Max Factor False Lash Effect, although apparently you guys in the US can’t get Max Factor easily any more. Sorry to taunt you with it.

The focus of the look I'm going for, and what I’m hoping will pull it up to formal, is a strong, red lip. Since reading Deanne’s great article about lip pencils, I have actually purchased Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Liner in Pleasure Me Red to match my favourite MAC Russian Red Lipstick.

I outlined my lips and filled them in completely as Deanne advised, and I have found it really makes my lipstick stay put longer and look cleaner.

So what do you think of my summer formal look? Fresh face, strong brows and red lips, if I get it right. I’m sure it’ll look a little more dressy once I actually have what I’m wearing.

Do you think I’ve got a little better at knowing what suits me over the years? Do you have a go-to special occasion look?