The Melbourne Cup carnival is one of the Big Beauty Moments for Australian dames. Even those of us who might be top-knot, trainers and jeans girls the rest of the year suddenly feel compelled to try tricky up-dos and spray tans and red lipstick, and pretend we know exactly how and which direction we should pin our headwear onto our heads. And I applaud this experimentation! I applaud it louder than anyone. I even give up a few wolf whistles.
However. It’s not entirely intuitive this stuff. Plus, spring racing is about appearance endurance; you want to look as ravishing leaving, as you do arriving. (Or least within a 10% range of that. There is no need or excuse for being a mess at 5pm.) So, here are a few fundamental tricks to looking tip-top at the track. Please note that some of it starts TODAY.
In the week leading up: Get your skin looking really, really great.
Skin is king. Always. And the best way to refresh and reinvigorate your skin fast is to get some AHAs onto it quick smart, ideally in salon with a peel tailored to your skin, or at home using AHA-based products. (Like a glycolic acid mask, say.) AHAs work to deeply exfoliate your skin, and get rid of dryness and dullness to give a dazzling glow. An AHA peel (accompanied with a hydrating mask or even better, an oxygen or vitamin infusion – kaPOW!) in the days leading up to an event will mean your skin care will penetrate better, your skin will be glowing and your makeup will sit beautifully on your skin. Worth it.
In the days leading up: Consider applying some self-tan.
But also consider not applying some, if your skin is very pale, you look better with your natural skin tone, or you are wearing white. (Yes, white – it sounds like a no brainer to have a tan when you wear white, very Miami etc, but in fact it’s one of the fastest ways to look tacky. Sorry.) If you’re a spray tan fan, I recommend getting it two days out from race day so that you have a day of ‘cooling off’ in case it’s too orange or intense, and you need a few showers up your sleeve to tame it down. Plus, you won’t stink of raw potatoes at the track.
The night before: Do your hair.
Hair always looks better on the second day. When it’s too clean and slippery and fluffy it won’t behave and it won’t look as good. (If you have fine, wash-every-day hair, skip the conditioner, and use dry shampoo on the second day and you’ll be sweet as.) So, do the hard yards NOT on the day when you’re running late and have no time for error and just need it to work, do it the night before. Yes, wash it the night/day before, then apply mousse or a body-building/thickening spray throughout. Blow-dry this through with a barrel brush so that it’s evenly distributed and your hair is smooth, dry and thick. (Doesn’t need to be perfect.) Do the next step either now (my preference as I like my hair to look a bit bedhead and softly tousled rather than too perfect) or the next morning (the day of the races). It will have volume and have some grip already now – which is what you want when wearing headpieces. Spray some heat protectant and also a texture/beach spray (or even some more thickening spray) then blast on high heat all over with your hair-dryer for even more grit and texture. Now use your heat styling tool of choice (curling tong, cone or a styler) to create your style. Even if you’re wearing it up or back, you want a foundation of texture and body. Trust me. Also, remember that hair sets when it’s cool, so always leave your curls or waves in until they’re cool before shaking/tousling/brushing out. Finish with some volume powder on the scalp, or dry shampoo on the roots for added volume and staying powder, and mist with a lightweight hairspray on the ends for hold. Gorgeous.
The day of: Prep and set your makeup.
A beautiful outfit demands beautiful makeup… preferably the kind that can outlast two champagnes and a horse race or three. So. Always start with sunscreen and moisturiser, then apply primer. If you’ve never tried primer, the races are the perfect time: it acts as a wall between your makeup and your skin, which prevents your skin from “eating” your makeup, keeps said makeup in place, and also provides a smooth, flawless base for your foundation. Find one that is right for your skin type or needs (mattifying, moisturising, luminising etc.) After primer and makeup, lightly dab some loose powder all over with a soft blush brush. This will lock your makeup in place. Don’t be scared of looking too matte or dry, these days translucent powders are SO much better, and can even hydrate or illuminate. Finally, consider a long last lipstick or a stain rather than gloss. Traditional lipstick is a pest at the races – it gets on your glass and teeth, and looks gross when it’s fading. Something budge-proof or a chic, sheer stain is far better.
Zoe wears Alex Perry dress and Max Alexander headpiece available in selected stores