Gold, silver and bronze aren’t just for Olympic athletes and hotel heiresses. Along with pewter and copper, and paired with an entire rainbow of hues, they can be the perfect accessory with the little black dresses of the holiday season.

It used to be thought that the best way to wear metallic makeup was sparingly; one feature at a time. But new formulations of products can produce sheer results, as with the all-over shimmer powders produced by MAC (Iridescent Loose Powder), Stila (Illuminating Finish Powder), and Revlon (SkinLights Face Illuminator Loose Powder) or Benefit’s Moon Beam luminizing liquid.

These illuminators can be used over the entire face to add a soft glow that looks lovely in candlelight, lightly along the cheek bones to draw attention to the eye, or dusted along cleavage and collar bones to enhance a beautiful neckline.

When choosing metallics for your face, if you are planning to highlight lips and eyes, it is best to choose equal tones of colour. For example, try Lola Bronzed Goddess eye shadow and pair it with Nars Hot Voodoo lipstick. And if you want something less predictable, there is Benefit’s Show Off in Bambi (iridescent peach) alongside Sugar’s Pump ‘N Shine lip gloss. With this much shine, it’s best to keep cheeks matte and only lightly touched with colour – you want the attention to go to your eyes and lips.

The most traditional way to wear metallics is to highlight one feature only. When choosing a dramatic lip colour, select a neutral eye shade and pair it with plenty of mascara. Then pick something deep and daring for your lips, such as Prescriptive’s Cabaret, Make Up For Ever Copper Pink 312 or DuWop’s Larkspur.

I’m a lover of dramatic, smoky eyes. To my office Christmas party last week, I wore Stila Wheat with MAC Honey Lust and Madeline Mono Turkish Coffee pigment – all very shimmery, one copper, one gold, one bronze. But I paired it with an almost nude lip (MAC Viva Glam 5 lipstick and Viva Glam 6 lip glass).

Deep shades of purple and blue are beautiful with many different eye colours and can be some of the most beautiful around. Try Pop Beauty Glitter Stix in Navy, Clinique Colour Surge Super Shimmer in Crystal Berry, Too Faced eye shadow in Vixen, or MAC Beauty Marked.

For the more youthful readers who can carry off more shine, more glitter and generally more of everything, try something fun like the Hard Candy Glitter Lash Freak Mascara (this product should not be worn if you wear contact lenses), either alone, or over your favourite mascara. Or try a glittering eyeliner like those found in MAC’s new Jewelescent line with shades of blue/green and silver. Buy inexpensive coloured glitter at the dollar store or craft shop and sprinkle it on your hair, and mix it with clear lip gloss or add some to your body lotion for all-over sparkle.

If you’re looking for a gift for the sparkle-lover on your list (especially if it happens to be you yourself), try DuWop’s Pick Your Poison lip gloss set or Tarte’s All That Glitters Sampler Set.

However you celebrate the holiday season, I wish you beautiful nights spent in the warmth of family and friends.