A Guide to Dramatic Makeup for Evening and Formal Events

How to do the most

Closeup of female model with smoky, shimmery eye makeup
  Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

Evening makeup calls for high drama: a bit of shimmer, eyes that pop, and seductive lips. This is not the time to go au naturel. Here's how to create a nighttime look that'll turn heads—and make you feel like a glam goddess.

Start With a Clean Palette

Clean skin should be the first step to any makeup routine. Remove all makeup and start fresh. Exfoliate your skin and lips. Apply a moisturizer or oil immediately after cleansing, preferably while skin is still a little damp to retain moisture.

Create the Perfect Base

If you have oily skin, you can smooth on a primer to help your foundation go on evenly and last all night. Applying foundation with a wet sponge like the Fenty Precision Makeup Sponge ($16) creates a flawless, non-cakey finish that looks gorgeous both in real life and in photos. Follow with a concealer if you need extra coverage on blemishes or under your eyes.

Add Drama to a Flawless Face

Contouring gives definition to your angles so that your face doesn't look flat. Apply bronzer with a big fluffy brush along your jawbone and on your temples, and follow with a sweep just under your cheekbones.

Illuminators brighten up shadows and any facial flaws. Tuck your head down as you look into the mirror, and swipe an illuminator where you see dark shadows. Lift your head back up and blend in the shimmer. You'll notice instant radiance. Add a pop of blush to the apples of your cheeks as well for even more glow.

Choose to Play up Your Eyes or Mouth—or Both

One classic tip for a striking makeup look: either play up your eyes or your mouth. The reason for this is that accentuating both features can look severe on some people. However, if maximalism is your style, feel free to discard this so-called rule.

If you choose to play up your eyes, you can be as dramatic as you want with eyeliner, shadow, and mascara.

Shimmery eye shadows are very glam for evening. Smudged eyeliner gives a sultry, smoky look; you can smudge with your finger or with a brush. For something sleeker, opt for a thin stroke of liquid eyeliner like Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20). Curl your lashes before you apply a thick coat of a high-intensity mascara like Diorshow Iconic Mascara ($30). Want to be a real showstopper? Consider fake lashes. Lip gloss or a subtle lipstick shade balances out this look.

If you want to accentuate your lips instead of your eyes, polish your pout with a bold shade of lip liner and lipstick. To neutralize any discoloration on your eyelids, dab on a little concealer or a neutral eye shadow. Then add a stroke of brown or black eyeliner to just your upper lash line, plus a lick of mascara.

Evening looks are about going all out. So again, if you feel like doing the most—eyes, lips, and all—go for it. Lock it all in with a sweep of powder over your face. Now you're ready to party.