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Gilt-y Pleasures: How The Recession Caused This Season's Gold (Makeup) Rush

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Peruse any glossy magazine this month and witness page after gleaming page of luxe metallic accessories, honeyed leather coats, Midas-like dresses and gold-tinged beauty items (some with flecks of real gold). A case of art imitating life? At a time when the dollar is still floundering, gold prices have hit a record high, and the glamour world has responded in kind with a treasure trove of glittering wares in the most reliable metal of all time. It's as if all the riches of Aladdin's cave, Tutankhamen's tomb and Fort Knox have been raided and repurposed in a last-ditch effort to seduce shoppers after this dismal year in retail. 2009 could hardly be described as the golden age of anything--except perhaps gold objects.

The explosion of precious metals could be viewed as a rejection of fashionable frugality--sensible grey sweaters, pencil skirts and black pumps. But the new take on all things gold is not a hankering for eighties excess; more like a desire for a little razzle-dazzle. The current outbreak of gold fever could be traced back to May, when Kate Moss arrived at the MET Costume Institute gala clad in a Marc Jacobs gold lame mini dress, matching golden turban and shoes. Since then, we've seen a cascade of shiny treats. While this may not be the best year to splurge on an Hérve Léger bandage dress or a Lanvin clutch, consumers can happily indulge in beauty's take on gilty pleasures. As a makeup artist, it's this gold rush that's particularly fascinating to me. Not only is gold undeniably festive, it reflects light and flatters every complexion.

You don't need to be King Croesus to appreciate this season's lustrous lip glosses, champagne eye shadows, shimmering blushes or mercurial nail colors. Yet there is a certain degree of alchemy required to balance the various metals. Certainly one must resist immersing yourself in the stuff, or risk looking like the actress Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger, who came to an untimely death after being painted in gold by a James Bond villain. Use these luminous products sparingly but creatively, tempering shimmer on the eyes and lips with matte cheeks. And try not to mix your metals: if you're using a gold eyeshadow, go easy on the face bronzer. Here are tips on how to mine golden glamour for the holidays:

  • For a celebratory look, layer glimmering shadows on the eye. Use a bronze shade on the outer corner of the eye and to line the bottom lash line. Brush a yellow gold all over the eyelid and highlight with a white gold under the brow bone and in the inner corner of the eye. Take a little of the white gold onto the cheeks and team with a matte lipstick. It's a winning look. Try my Napoleon Perdis Gold Digger Glimmer.
  • Hold the expensive accessories. Instead, use a shimmering powder on the cheeks, décolletage and limbs to create subtly embellished skin. It's the perfect update to your little black dress. Try one of the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks. You could also mix a little gold powder with your body moisturizer.
  • For a fresh, just-back-from-the-Bahamas glow, try adding a dash of bronzing powder to your face primer. Skin takes on a decadent yet barely perceptible radiance underneath your foundation. Finish with a golden lip gloss--look for one with gold flakes. Try Avon Ultra Color Rich 24k Gold Lipstick.
  • If you're going to flaunt eye-catching metallic nails, an easy way to dip into this trend, balance the exuberant shade with an earthy lipstick and subtle eye color. Try Lippman Collecton Long Wearing Nail Lacquer in Nefertiti, Believe or Superstar.
  • Don't buy into the assumption that glitter is solely for the young. More mature complexions can achieve a youthful glow by using shimmer products with anti-aging benefits. Try Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder.
  • To avoid spending money on false lashes, add some pearlescent powder to your mascara before applying. Your lashes will sparkle. Another way to make a sophisticated eye statement is a gold liquid liner--very modern-day Cleopatra. Try Jane Iredale Liquid Eyeliner in Gold.
  • If you're feeling creative you could crumble a little 24K gold leaf and apply it your cheeks. I did this recently for a runway show in Australia. You're not Gustav Klimt, so use just the tiniest amount.