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How to Get Cocktail Dress–Ready Skin (Without Leaving Your House)

model in a sparkly dress

Holiday parties present a fancy opportunity to feel dressed to the nines. Especially since much of planning for festive celebrations and the New Year can be stressful, picking out a cocktail dress and feeling radiant is a nice shift. But while plenty of people are schooled on how to shop for the right fit that flatters their body, few give extra TLC to their skin in the weeks before a big event. Even so, beauty, fashion and celebrity makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez says that preparing your skin for sleeveless and short cocktail wear is absolutely crucial. After all, it is your best accessory! “The whole point of wearing anything more revealing, in my mind, should be all about gorgeous, radiant skin,” he continues. “And while it’s slightly more challenging to keep the skin properly hydrated this time of year, a glowing complexion from head to toe can very easily be achieved at home,” Rodriguez adds.

As the countdown to the soiree grows near, follow these tips to be the showstopper you know you really are:

  1. 1. Treat yourself to a luxurious bath.
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    1. Treat yourself to a luxurious bath.

    We know that your holiday to-do list is running like wildfire, but take a moment, exhale and close your eyes. Think back to summer when you indulged in a “you” day while on vacation. Celebrity and editorial makeup artist Mary Irwin says tyou can channel that after-spa sensation when your skin feels rested, rejuvenated and glowing by treating yourself to an at-home spa experience. This means using a scrub—like the Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Sugar Scrub—to rid away dry skin. Finish off your luxe bath routine with  Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream—an ultra-rich moisturizer infused with vitamins and extracts—that is ideal for every part of your body—even if the name suggests otherwise.

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  2. 2. Pair your favorite oil with a body brush.
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    2. Pair your favorite oil with a body brush.

    Cleansing your skin is one thing, but giving your pores the A-list experience is another. The only issue, of course, is time. When you’re tasked with cupcakes to bake, deadlines to meet and gifts to buy, rubbing in thick lotion feels cumbersome. According to artistry and training lead at Artis, Lindsey Jackson, you can achieve a natural glow quickly by pairing your favorite body oil with a skin brush. “Simply take a small dollop of oil and swipe onto your arms or legs and gently glide the brush in circular motions to blend, using very light pressure,” she explains. “It will leave your skin hydrated, without missing a spot and having to spend extra time blending lotion into the skin,” Jackson adds.

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  3. 3. Remove signs of unwanted hair for good.

    While it might seem a bit intimidating to use an at-home hair-removal system—gulp—head of pro artistry at Stila Cosmetics Carly Giglio says you’ll be hooked on how your skin feels afterward. She says your skin will look smooth, fuzz-free and ready for whatever makeup or oil you want to apply. It will leave your face and body feeling softer, your skin care products will absorb more easily and your makeup will wear with ease. To give it a go, consider LumaRx Full Body Hair Removal System, which uses light therapy to rid of hair anywhere and everywhere. This gentle approach will leave your arms, legs, face and beyond feeling silky.

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  4. 4. Skip the tanning bed for a self-tanner.
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    4. Skip the tanning bed for a self-tanner.

    When the weather outside is frightful, you might find your reflection to be just as scary. Since tanning beds are a big no-no and the actual sun is nowhere in sight, Irwin suggests going the bottle route. Highly rated self-tanners like the Brazilliance PLUS by Tarte Cosmetics is a beauty secret many top influencers keep in their back pocket for special events. They leave you looking sun-kissed but not orange, without bleeding or any messy clean-up. And since you’ll be wearing a flirty cocktail dress, you want to ensure that every angle is Instagram-worthy. “Think about red-carpet appearances: no celeb would ever walk a carpet without every inch of exposed skin being properly taken care of,” adds Irwin.

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  5. 5. Even out skin tone with a tinted body cream or body foundation.
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    5. Even out skin tone with a tinted body cream or body foundation.

    Uneven skin tone on your arms and legs? Not a problem. Tinted body creams, like This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle, naturally improves the overall tone and texture of your legs, leaving you with zero need for pantyhose (except for zero-degree weather, that is). If you have scars, tattoos, bruises or age spots that you want to cover up, you might consider going the foundation route. Dermablend’s Leg and Body Makeup Foundation is renowned for its ability to conceal anything on your leg, arms, neck—you name it—with a dime-sized application.

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Writer and Editor

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is a travel and lifestyle journalist who contributes to a myriad of publications—from Travel + Leisure and Vogue to Glamour and countless others. She's a digital nomad who works from every corner of the globe, scoping out the best coffee, collecting artisan crafts and testing every beauty product she can find. You can find a collection of her work at