How-to guide: 3 steps to party makeup

The Christmas parties are beckoning but if you're anything like us you're still chained to your desk with a to-do list that won't seem to get shorter. Sarah Simpson takes you through three simple steps to getting party ready by working with what you already have.

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When you don't have time to completely re-do your base makeup, adding some highlighter is often all that's needed to breathe new life into your complexion. A light dusting of these luminous powders is the first step to party-prep - brush some onto your forehead, cheekbones, and even decolletage to give your skin a beautiful touch of luminosity.

Elizabeth Arden Limited Edition Beautiful Color Bold Illuminating Liquid Highlighter, $49. Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix highlighting Stick in Gold Light, $35. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, $72. MAC Extra Dimension Skin Finish in Beaming Blush, $64. Shiseido Face Color Enhancing Trio, $69. YSL Touche Eclat Complexion Highlighter, $65.

The beauty of eye makeup is that it's buildable, so a neutral shade that sees you through a day in the office becomes the perfect base colour for a smokey eye in the evening. A smokey eye is also a best friend of ours because it doesn't need to be perfect, in fact the more buffed out the better - colour like this looks sexy and 'lived in'. Switch it up by choosing tones of cranberry, aubergine and dark brown which are flattering on the eyes and are a welcome change from black.

Stila Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette, $78. Guerlain Ecrin 1 Couleur Eye Shadow in Browni-Clyde, $57. Lancôme Hypnose Drama Eyes Palette in Bain de Minuit, $105. Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Eye Shadow in Spice, $50. Revlon Not Just Nudes Shadow Palette in Passionate Nudes, $35. Chantecaille Protect the Lions Eyeshadow Palette, $132.

For the party season, we say it's time to ditch the matte lipstick and opt for a gloss. Shiny, sparkly and super-sexy, the colourful mirror-like finish of these are party-perfect and can really work to complement your look. Choose either a clear option over your favourite lip colour or opt for a tinted variant which gives shade and sheen at once.

Jurlique Hydra-Gloss, $28. Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Pop, $28. Elizabeth Arden Limited Edition Sunset Bronze Prismatic Lipgloss, $49. NARS Lip Gloss in Risky Business, $41. Clarins Gloss Prodige in Crystal, $46. Max Factor Colour Elixir Gloss in Luxurious Berry, $26.