Holiday Makeup Tutorial

I feel like all of my makeup posts have to start with the same disclaimer: I’m not a makeup person. I like to keep things simple and low key– most days I don’t wear any makeup. I do have an everyday makeup routine that takes all of four minutes to get through. When I have an event or a party to attend, I try to put a bit more effort into my makeup. However, the final result just looks a bit more polished from my everyday look; I still want to feel comfortable and look like myself when all is said and done.
While I’m labeling this a “holiday” tutorial, the truth is that this is my year round go-to routine when I want to wear a bit more makeup than a regular day.
Another mini disclosure… There’s a lot of photos in this post! I try to keep my photos under six per post but these are the step by step so you can really see the progression! 

As a teaser, this is the end result! I wore this dress and did my makeup just like this before Kate Spade’s holiday party last week. I snapchatted a little bit and had a few requests for how I did my makeup. Again, the disclaimer, I’m not a makeup person. (Can you tell I’m self-conscious about this?!)

The blank slate!

After priming my face with this, I start by using this foundation stick to cover up some of the red spots, blemishes, and dark circles. Whenever I’m going to an event or need to look “photo-ready,” I use this Clinique liquid makeup. It’s definitely makeup-y and can be layered to be as thick as you want or need. I squeeze a little on my fingers and rub it in like I would moisturizer. It’s not rocket science but I think the only key is to make sure you also include your neck… don’t stop at your jawline! This is what I look like with just the foundation stick and liquid makeup:

Figuring out how to use bronzer changed my whole makeup routine. It gives me the exact definition I need and crave without ruining my skin in the sun. I start by my ear at the highest point of my cheek bones and aggressively go back and forth between that spot and the peak of my cheeks (right where the brush is in the photo).

I follow it up with a touch of blush. As aggressive as I am with the bronzer (I need it…), I keep the blush super light. My friend gave this Dior blush as a gift and I have to say it’s the best. It’s light, smells wonderful, and apparently works with your skin’s chemistry to create the perfect hue. I stay right around the apples of my cheeks and just barely blend in with my bronzer!

When it comes to eyeshadow I believe less is more. I use a palette like this and start by brushing the tan color around my lid, followed by bronze in my crease, and then a bone in the corners of my eyes.

I’ve been known to use makeup remover to restart the process a few times…

The next photo is scary, but I did it on purpose:

My secret weapon is the Bobbi Brown eyebrow shaper. I use this stuff daily in all honestly… I feel naked without it! You can lightly sweep your eyebrows with it to create some shape and color. For events and parties, I crank up the boldness by going back over my eyebrows a few times. You can see the with/without above!

To finish my eyes off, I use a creamy and dark pencil to outline my eyes. This is much bolder than my everyday eyeliner; the look is much more dramatic. I’ve used a million and a half mascaras over the years but I swear by Lash Domination. I have incredibly short and fine eyelashes. Without mascara, it doesn’t even look like I have eyelashes (see all the photos above…). This mascara is a miracle worker. I’ve bought a handful of bottles of it since first testing it. I do a few more coats than usual to get my lashes looking their best.
To finish off the look, a bit of color! I’ve been trying to wear lipstick a bit more and found this “spring pink” to be one of my new favorites. It doesn’t necessarily scream holiday since it’s not red, but it does work with the right outfit! (Here are my other favorite lipsticks in rotation currently!)

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Beautiful! You did a great job on this tutorial 🙂 I totally understand being self-conscious, but you nailed it! I really liked seeing this post – it was definitely different than your usual style. Good work!

Sweet Spontaneity

Jackie {York Avenue}

Looks great, Carly! I've been needing a bronzer and definitely something to define my eyebrows, so I'm going to go with your recs. I've always liked Bobbi Brown and your eyebrows look defined but still natural – just what I've been looking for.

Lindsey Daber

Yep. Need that eyebrow shaper. Mine are blond and need SERIOUS help every day. I like the Benefit Instant Brow pencil, too, but this Bobbi Brown stuff looks like a dream. I'll have to try it – thanks!

xx, Lindsey

Laura Cronin

As a self-proclaimed make-up junkie I love seeing what people use that aren't that into make-up because they usually find a couple great products and stick to them. I've been wanting to try out that Dior blush for awhile! Like this look, it's not too over the top but still pretty.

Laura Aime Vous


This makeup is actually gorgeous. I'm not an eyeliner person – I get a little nervous of drawing it all over my eyes instead of where it's supposed to go. At 27, you'd think I'd know how to wear makeup but alas – I don't. I typically do what you do on a normal day – makeup that takes 4 minutes or less. I just stick to foundation, powder and blush.

But I really do like this look. PS your dress was amazing. I really liked it.


I loved this post! I know you say you aren't a makeup person but a lot of people aren't so this is a great simple tutorial. I'll have to check out that mascara. I have the same problem as you – my eyelashes are so light and fine they can disappear!

Do you use any "drugstore" products or mainly the higher end stuff?


Carly, quick question about the brow shaper – is it waterproof?
I'm a natural redhead with blonde eyebrows that look invisible against my skin. I've been penciling them since I was 13 but it is a total pain. Takes 5-10 minutes alone every morning. I teach swim lessons and would love to have something easy, natural looking and waterproof.