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Great Makeup For The Holidays, Minus The Cruelty

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With the holidays come events -- lots of them. From small family gatherings to office shindigs, to all out glitzy and glamorous New Year's Eve bashes. All of the above present great opportunities to flaunt fabulous makeup, and I can't wait to dive into my stash. Being vegan, I avoid cosmetics that contain animal products. Believe it or not, most makeup includes animal-derived ingredients ranging from carmine (made from crushed bugs) to lanolin (from wool) to beeswax. However, colorful, high quality, beautiful vegan makeup options abound -- so there's no reason that an animal has to suffer for the sake of some shimmer and shine. Who would want an animal secretion on their lips or lashes, anyway?

Vegan New York City makeup artist Brian Duprey says, "As a makeup artist that happens to be vegan, I extend that to my work; my products and tools. In my bag you will not find one fur brush or one drop of lanolin. I'm happy to report that it is easier than ever to find pro products without the unnecessary animal ingredients." His current favorites include Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, EcoTools (animal free makeup brushes) and Lavender & Roses Skin Lotion (for moisturizing under makeup). Brian's "#1 vegan makeup must have" is NARS' Eyeliner Stylo, a liquid liner with a pen-like applicator tip, which he deems, "The ultimate eyeliner." For the holidays he advises using the NARS Eyeliner Stylo to elongate the traditional smoky eye outward from the outer corner of the eye. He also recommends Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' "Lip Tar" in "Stalker" for festive fêtes, calling it "... the perfect holiday red. It's classic and bold. I prefer it paired with a simple eye; darkest brown, black or navy liner smudged; and mascara."

First on my personal holiday events agenda is a party thrown by NYC music p.r. agency, Girlie Action. Most of the company's clients are twenty or thirty-something bands so I want to look sophisticated with some hip highlights. I'll start with Arbonne's makeup primer, which smoothes skin to a perfect canvas before I apply concealer, foundation and pressed powder. My favorite company for color is Scarlett Cosmetics, created and owned by Scarlett Messina whose makeup has been worn by celebrities including Debbie Harry, Christina Ricci and Drew Barrymore. All of Scarlett's Glamo-Glitz colors are vegan, coming in sumptuous shades from a shimmering gold, to electric blue, to neon yellow. They can be used as eye shadow, eyeliner, lip color, mascara or blush. (Take note vegans, the Glamo-Glitzes are all carmine-free, however, some older labels may include carmine in the list of ingredients. They are currently being replaced.)

For this party I'm excited to take "Bing," an uber-intense pink, for a spin. Says Scarlett, "...[T]o make eyes immediately light up take a dab of Bing and pat into exact middle of crease. Blend it [so it's] not too bright... the effect it gives is similar to when you get a sunburn and... secretly think you look great." I'm going to be wearing a pop of "Bing" with a swoop of black liquid liner and a lush coat of Manic Panic Collection's "Creature of the Night" black mascara. To insert a little glam into my indie music evening, I'll be adding Urban Decay's all vegan "Urban Lash" false eyelashes in "Instaflare" which are 1/3rd length lashes -- offering just the right amount of intensity without the hassle of a full falsie. These animal product-free lashes come packaged with vegan, latex-free glue. The perfect finish for the look is Arbonne's translucent "Champagne Shimmer" lip polish, part of the vegan company's "Lip Polish Palette Gift Set" which includes four gorgeous shades of gloss.

I'm dreaming of a dreamy date for Christmas. Whether or not the guy calls, I intend to go out and sparkle. That way, I can try out Urban Decay's "Heavy Metal" glitter eyeliner in "Stagedive," a mesmerizing turquoise which will look stunning on most skin tones. I have just the colors to wear with it, too! The striking touch of metallic blue-green across the edges of my lids goes great with the subtlety of Arbonne's neutral "Eye Shadow" in "Sand." I'll finish off the look with a touch of Urban Decay's perfectly pink "Afterglow" glide-on cheek tint, in "Quickie" and Arbonne's lovely pink lip polish in "Posh" (included in the "Lip Polish Palette Gift Set").

The other night one of my favorite actresses, Kristen Johnson appeared on the Bravo network "... channeling Black Swan" according to host, Andy Cohen. Her all black attire with intense lips and tightly pinned back hair made me want to go a little goth for the holidays. I found the perfect black satin dress, and Scarlett Messina offers a new spin on the smoky eye that is great for makeup inspired by, but not carbon copying Kristen's look. Scarlett Cosmetics' Glamo-Glitz in "Bordeaux" (a rich, shimmering wine-colored dust) provides "... a modern way to do the smoky eye." Says Scarlett, "Instead of that predictable dark steel grey or black, do the same technique for the smoky eye but use 'Bordeaux.'" To finish the look, Scarlett adds, "I also love to wear... a creamy pink on lips." For a more dramatic look, Scarlett explains that when wearing "Bordeaux" on eyes one can break the cosmetics rule of never pairing dark eyes with dark lips, "Wearing 'Bordeaux' on eyes and a 'Bordeaux' on lips looks fierce!" she exclaims. Arbonne's "Lip Polish" in "Raisin" (also found in the "Lip Polish Palette Gift Set") is the perfect translucent, high-gloss Bordeaux-hued complement to those rich nouveau smoky eyes.

I'll be spending Christmas day with my dad, reading and listening to classical music as he does on most Sundays, before heading out to dinner. Christmas isn't about me, and I don't want to be too self-indulgent, but I still want to look nice for my family and to go out. Urban Decay offers a great subtle eye color for day with their "Matte Eyeshadow" in the beige-y neutral "ABC Gum." If you're not pale, like me, chances are they have another nude shade that suits your coloring. To add a tasteful amount of sparkle for the evening out, I'll sweep on Urban Decay's "Stardust Eyeshadow" in "Bobby Dazzle" -- also a neutral hue, but with subtle glitter for a festive ending to the holiday.

A great online resource for vegan cosmetics is makeup artist and author Melisser Elliott's Cruelty-Free Face blog.

Maya Gottfried is the author of books, essays and articles for children and adults. She has previously written on her experience with cancer for crazysexylife.com. Her autobiographical essay "Untitled" appeared in the book "Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes." Maya's most recent book for children, "Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary," is about the real-life residents of national farm animal protection organization Farm Sanctuary. Read her blog and buy her books on Red Room.