Special occasion make-up: The secret to a perfect, professional finish at home

Laura Kennedy: The right mask will give your skin a dewy plumpness that makes foundation sit and last better

A mask is an invaluable tool. Thankfully, I’m not referring to the fabric kind, but the skincare variety. Even for devoted skincare enthusiasts, masks can seem like a faff; an unnecessary extra step that costs money and time without necessarily adding value. To those people I say this — you’re not necessarily wrong. Masks can be precisely that. They are supplemental — you don’t need to add a mask to your skincare routine any more than you need a curling iron or that fourth concealer (I’ll argue anyone under the table in defending the idea that I really do need those first three concealers). However, you’re missing a beat if you don’t have an emergency mask stashed in a cupboard somewhere. For special occasions when you’re making extra effort with your make-up, being photographed or just need to ensure the best skin finish possible, a mask is key.

The right mask will minimise dryness or visible texture on your skin, give it a dewy plumpness that makes foundation sit and last better, and just generally elevate your make-up to give it a more professional look and perfected finish.

Masks take many forms, but generally on the morning of an event where I want to look rested and not as though I’m wearing three different concealers, I’ll use something exfoliating to ensure I have the smoothest, brightest possible skin. I find Murad Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial (€70 at lookfantastic.ie) has paid for itself several times over in bringing dull skin back from the brink. It isn’t one for daily use, given that it is both a physical and chemical exfoliant, but massaged into the skin gently for a minute and then left to do its smoothing work for one or two minutes more, it offers the luscious satisfaction of instant results and the tube lasts an age.

I’ll follow this with something deeply hydrating now that the skin has been primed to drink it in. Sheet masks can be controversial. They’re certainly not the most environmentally friendly skincare quick fix. However, when you’re travelling or stuck, they’re convenient. Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydration Masks (€95 at selected clinics nationwide) are very expensive — there are only five in the box — but I can’t argue with the way my skin drinks them in. If you’re seeking something for maximum results before a wedding, which won’t leave heavy residue on the skin, this is a contender.


For something creamier, which will intensely moisturise as well as hydrate, go for Embryolisse Masque Hydratation Intense (€25 at pharmacies nationwide). Sleeping with it on the skin the night before will produce even better results.

To maskify your normal evening skincare, try slugging, which involves applying a layer of an occlusive like Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm (€11.50 at pharmacies nationwide) as the last step in your usual evening skincare routine. This prevents water loss overnight and acts like a raincoat, sealing in your skincare. If you can tolerate the slimy face, you’ll awake to softened skin, and Aquaphor also makes a brilliant barrier for those who struggle with irritation after using retinoids. Slugging won’t be for you if you are acne-prone, though.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about beauty