Red-carpet beauty is easy to achieve once you find the right inspiration, writes Tama Lung
For some starlets, such as French actress and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, wearing minimal make-up allows their natural beauty to shine through. But less coverage can actually require more preparation.
"Prior to a red carpet event, prepping your skin is a vital part of great make-up. It makes an enormous difference on how your make-up will adhere, and improves the overall appearance," says Denise Toms, a Hong Kong-based freelance make-up artist who has powdered her share of celebrities, including the Rolling Stones, Isabella Rosselini and Pansy Ho Chiu-king.
Toms recommends a gentle but effective scrub such as Dermalogica's rice-based Daily Microfoliant, followed by a good moisturiser on the face and neck. To give skin a healthy-looking glow, she suggests applying a thin layer of Laura Mercier's Foundation Primer and mixing a bit of bronzer with your favourite foundation.
"For natural, yet defined eyes, follow the outer rims with black eyeliner and smudge using a cotton bud or a medium bronze eye shadow," Toms says. "Line the inner rim with black eye kohl, and apply lashings of black mascara."
To finish the eyes, Toms recommends dusting a cream-coloured shadow along the brow bone. "Comb your brows, layer a blush such as Giorgio Armani's Sheer Blush in beige on the apples of your cheeks, and you have a look that's natural yet strikingly beautiful."
The finishing touch is a natural-looking lip with a hint of colour. "Yves Saint Laurent's Fard à Lèvres lipstick in Rose Tropicale will complete your effortless yet glamorous look."
You don't have to be a Bond girl like Bérénice Marlohe - although it doesn't hurt - to wear dramatic make-up.
"Sultry smoky eyes is a very popular red-carpet look, that commands attention," Toms says. "Ideal for evening and more dramatic outfits and special events, it can be flattering for everyone, if you understand what complements your eye shape and colour."
For large eyes, Toms advises first rimming the top and bottom of the inner and outer eyelid with black kohl, then blending with a medium shadow before layering up and outwards for a sexy, smoky effect.
"For smaller eyes," she says, "rim the bottom inner eye with a white liner, and pop a highlighter shadow in the inner corners of your eye and along the brow bone to brighten and open up your eyes."
A number of new eye-shadow palettes are available this season, combining complementary colours in one foolproof package. Laura Mercier's Petite Baked Eye Colour Trio features three shimmering shades that can be applied wet or dry. "Try Becca's new smoky eye palettes in Night Star for the ultimate seductress, particularly blue-eyed beauties, Galactica and Eclipsed for brown eyes and Astro Violet for green and hazel eyes," Toms says.
"Use the darkest shade along the lash line, blending the medium shades across the lid, and highlighting with the lightest shadow."
You can even take a cue from Marlohe's multicoloured lids by creating a cat-eye shape or opting for a rosy highlighter. "Curl your lashes, pile on the mascara, and a slick of barely there shimmering lip gloss from Yves Saint Laurent will complete your smoky-eyed, red carpet look," Toms says.
Chinese actress Zhu Zhu, who stars in Cloud Atlas, is a master of one of the most popular red-carpet looks - and one of the easiest to replicate for any festive occasion.
"When choosing a bold or red lip colour, consider your skin tone, eye and hair colour, but don't be afraid to experiment," Toms says. "Determine whether you have fair, medium, olive or dark skin, and whether your skin is warm- or cool-toned. Warm-toned skin looks best with golden hues, and cool-toned skin looks best with hints of pink and blue.
"The general rule is fairer skin suits blue-based or cherry reds, medium and olive complexions look great in true bold reds, whilst darker skin is complemented by burgundy or deep reds."
The wealth of lip products on the market means there truly is something for everyone. Lancôme's L'Absolu Rouge gets the festive treatment this season with an infusion of coppery mother of pearl, while Chantecaille's Brilliant Gloss - the favourite of Angelina Jolie's make-up artist - now comes in a deep, red berry called Glamour.
"That said, with all the incredibly poppy colours available on the market, there's a bright orange-red and berry colour to suit any skin tone, for those daring to be adventurous," Toms says. In true pop style, NARS has a bright orange-red Larger than Life Lip Gloss called Holly Woodlawn and inspired by Andy Warhol.
"Keep the rest of your make-up simple and classic when wearing bold red lip colours," Toms advises. "A slick of eyeliner and a dusting of blusher will keep the make-up looking seductive, yet not overwhelming."