WITH KNEES and thighs bared by this season's short party dresses, women might think that their faces won't be getting much notice at holiday get-togethers.
But, beauty experts say, eye shadows, liners, mascaras and false lashes will be bringing attention up to eye level.
For years, unplucked Brooke Shields-type eyebrows have been in style. But this season, women will be following the lead of model / actress Paulina Porizkova, whose brows are delicate and tailored with gentle, natural-looking arches.
Women with heavy eyebrows are now encouraged to thin them, tweezing or waxing them into shape, with an arch defined near the outer corner of the eye rather than directly in the center.
Furthermore, makeup artists such as Tyen, the creative mind behind the Christian Dior look in cosmetics, are featuring eyebrows shaded with many of the same colors that are used on the eyelids.
Continuing the shadows into the brow and often into the hairline creates what Dior Senior Vice President Susan Biehn calls "a youthful, upward illusion. The hair, eyebrow and eye all work together as a unit, rather than as disparate pieces."
Avon beauty and fashion spokeswoman Kathleen Walas suggests brushing gold mascara into the brows for special evenings. "Mascara will set, control and color the eyebrow at the same time," Walas says.
For special-occasion sparkle, Maybelline has created Doodles, which are tubes of soft, shimmery color in stick form that can be stroked over the eyebrows--or anyplace else on the face or body.
Glimmer and iridescence are this year's holiday makeup essentials--especially for the eyes.
Last year, metallics were the most in-demand eye shadows; coppers, silvers and bronzes created a hard-edged, Tin Man look. Now, soft pastels lit with iridescence are the colors women want.
If a woman prefers more intense eye-shadow hues, she can dust over the base color with whitened iridescent shades, such as those in Dior's Moon White quartet palette.
And Lancome has created a line of pale shades that are designed to be offset with luminescent liquid eyeliners that add a hint of pastel sparkle along the lash line.
Long, thick eyelashes are also important in high-impact holiday makeup. To look full and luxurious, natural eyelashes are stroked with new lengthening mascaras, glimmered with gold and / or augmented with artificial lashes, which started making a comeback last fall.
Some companies are showing faux lashes on both the upper and lower lids. Dior's Tyen, however, holds the opinion that even one row of false fringe is too much.
He prefers utterly natural-looking, clean, long, thick eyelashes without even a touch of mascara on the lowers and only black or dark brown on the uppers. He believes that the most effective way to play up the eyes is to let the color on the lids and eyebrows make the strongest statement.
To offset well-defined eyes that are bound to command attention at holiday gatherings, lips and cheeks should be underplayed, according to Tyen and other beauty experts. Subtle red and pink blushers with just a hint of gold are dusted on the cheekbones and forehead.
The lips are brown-toned with either creamy-moist or matte-finish lipsticks. But for very special occasions, the lips can be glistened with a touch of gold or glossed with an iridescent overcoat.
The new party dresses--with their mini hemlines and festive bubble-shape skirts--are fun and sprightly, but it's fashion that demands a sophisticated approach to makeup. Well-defined eyes, with smart-looking, arched eyebrows and iridescent pastel-colored lids, provide the right amount of serious color at eye level.
Photograph: Victoria Pearson; hair and makeup: Eric Barnard / Cloutier; styling: Tracy Kirst / Cloutier; model: Patricia Durham / Flame Models.