How to cheat at Christmas

This has absolutely nothing to do with cancer, but as Christmas is coming and we all want to look our best, despite the strange lockdown situation we all find ourselves in, I thought this would be fun (and a great trial run for Christmas 2021!).

Who doesn’t want to look fab-u-lous at all those Christmas parties? While we may not be blessed with Sophie Dahl’s eyes, Angelina Jolie’s lips or Cindy Crawford’s figure, we have not run out of time to get into stunning shape. Yes, it involves a little cheating not dieting, but as this hurts no one except you if your shapewear’s unbearably tight, does it matter? Of course not. And the best news is that looking fab-u-lous won’t even take a day to achieve.

Starting at the top and working all the way down to your toes, here are my failsafe tips on what you can do to look your very best, very quickly, without spending a fortune:

Hair: A good hairstyle matters, but now’s not the time for a dramatic makeover. Work with what you’ve got and, whether you prefer neat or messy, make sure your hair looks healthy. If those split ends which should have been cut off weeks ago are still there, then apply a tiny amount of argan oil to give your hair some sheen. If the roots are showing, cover them; there are plenty of DIY powder alternatives if can’t get an appointment with your hairdresser.

Eyes: We’re all a lot better at looking after our eyebrows, so I guess I don’t need to mention monobrows or Frida Kahlo here do I? Let’s assume all straggly hairs have been plucked away and your eyebrows frame your eyes well, so now the attention is on your eyes. They may be the windows to your soul, but nothing ruins a photograph or Instagram post more than if those windows look shut. You need eyelashes that make an impact and open up those eyes. If your own lashes are long, then it’s worth investing in a good quality eyelash primer and mascara. Need a little more help? Then false eyelashes are a safe option but, if you can’t put them on yourself ask a friend or, if you buy the lashes from the cosmetics counter (big stores only), the makeup artist will apply them for you. Some women are advocates of lash extensions, which can look amazing. The Russian style might be a little OTT and Classic too light, so you could go for a Hybrid, which is a mix of the two. Once they’ve been applied, they’re yours for four weeks or so, and you don’t need to apply any mascara to achieve that wide-awake look. Lack of sleep or inherited undereye shadows can make you look tired, even if you don’t feel it, so don’t forget the concealer.

Lips: If you haven’t used filler to make your lips fuller, don’t do it now, experiment when you’re not in the spotlight, just in case you have a reaction. There are some lip plumping products out there, but in my experience they have a limited effect; to give your lips the appearance of fullness start using lip balm – do it now – and keep your lips hydrated to make them look softer and less lined. Then you need lip liner, which you can apply slightly outside the edge of your lips, but make sure the colour is only a tad darker than the lipstick you’re wearing (don’t do a Jackie Collins). A matt lipstick may be too drying, I’d go for a satin effect and then apply a little clear lip gloss to the centre of your lips to create an optical effect of plumpness.

The outfit: Whether you’re wearing a dress or trouser ensemble, a more streamlined figure will make whatever you’re wearing look that much better, which means you’ll feel better too. You may have a tummy you’d like to see less of, a waist you’d like to find or boobs that appear to need scaffolding. If that’s the case, only good underpinnings will solve the problem. M&S was my mecca for bras until I discovered Rigby and Peller. Their lingerie stylists know how to select the size and style that will be perfect for enhancing your shape in a specific outfit, but their bras aren’t cheap and, as they only have nine boutiques in the UK, not that accessible. The important thing is to make sure your bra not only gives you good support, but a good shape too. You need both, not one or the other. If you need to reduce the size of your midriff, waist, stomach, hips, bottom or thighs, there’s an abundance of shapewear available to you, and they are far more comfortable than they used to be; you may feel a little restricted at first, but it’s so worth it. Spanx is a well-known brand but there are cheaper own label ranges too; the good thing is that you’re spoiled for choice. If you don’t need as much help in this area, there are some great control tights and petticoats around for a light smoothing effect. Now, there’s no shapewear for bingo wings, so you either decide to flaunt your arms, or cover up as Helen Mirren does (although I think her arms look great).

Legs: If they’re going to be on show, and you’re not wearing tights, you might want to consider flashing a tanned pair. There are home self-tanning products, tinted moisturisers or you could just get a spray tan to make your legs have a healthy glow. Don’t forget a mani-pedi, as that completes the look.

Now you’re ready for the party season, and the effort to get there has, let’s face it, been minimal. When the new year comes, you can make getting in shape one of your New Year’s resolutions. Or, enjoy life and carry on cheating. The choice is yours.

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