It's the Christmas party season. There's a toxic fug of fragrance in the office loos by 6.15pm and, at Boots, a run on the type of kitschy glitter eyeshadow that a four-year-old girl would dismiss as de trop. Festive party make-up is as predictable as everything else at this time of year, and we wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, it is possible to be too chic at this time of year. A night spent drinking warm chardonnay, dancing to Britney and making crashing indiscretions with your colleagues doesn't suit a perfect chignon and nude eyeshadow. It demands something bold, dramatic and low-maintenance. Red lips are the big trend of the season, but they're impractical in many ways (mostly related to alcohol), so instead I'd suggest the smoky eye. Don't think about the Eighties. And don't be put off by the MOR-brunettes associated with this particular look (The Corrs, Carol Vorderman, Davina McCall). But do get the application exactly right.

The secret to perfect smoky eyes is to prepare the lid before you add colour, advises Gary Brunker, the international make-up artist who works with Prescriptives. "Prepare the eyelid with a touch of foundation, setting it with a small amount of powder," he says, explaining that this should prevent creases from appearing later on in the night. Use a mid-grey, creamy-textured eyeshadow such as Prescriptives' Colourscope in "Smoking Gun", in a line with your pupil and blend. "Pat in the eyeshadow at the lash line this technique helps seal in colour and lasts longer," he continues. And when you think you're finished blending, blend some more. "Always start at the lash line working your way up towards the crease." Finish by adding soft kohl pencil along the lash line, and mascara that is, if perfume poisoning hasn't given you a migraine and the perfect excuse to go home early ...

Colourscope Creamy Eyecolor by Prescriptives, 0870 034 2566,