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Chucking and splurging

I'm honing down my makeup kit to the things that give me the best value for money.

One problem with only buying your makeup every so often is the phenomenon of running out of everything at once. It's happening to me at the moment - I'm down to my last couple of squirts of Smashbox skin primer - the adult woman's spackle -; have  just finished my Christian Dior Airflash foundation and am now running out of Touche Eclat. 

What's a girl to do? Clearly one can't go out and face the public without the primer (well, I jest, as I only wear it about once a week, which is why the same bottle's lasted me about six years), so I've splurged to buy a new one. But the foundation - meh. I've decided that it's a bit chalky for my taste, so am currently working my way through some free magazine samples - one by Clinique is the lead so far.

Touch Eclat used to come in just the one pale pinky-beige shade, but now apparently comes in six varieties. This can only be good as the original is a little pink for my freckly complexion. So I'm on the hunt for shade no 2 from some reseller, as I'm obviously not going to walk into Nocibé and pay a whopping 32.50 euros for it.

There are only a few things in my kit that have really done me great duty over the years, and as you get older and have no need for glitter, colours and jazzy effects, it's pretty much down to your daily drivers.  

My decluttering phase therefore has spread to my makeup kit and the other day when I sat down to do my slap, I placed each thing I used in a nice old Victorian sewing box, as part of my 'daily' toolkit. At the finish, there isn't much in there: eyebrow, eyeshadow and lip brushes; a big fluffy powder brush; foundation sachets, oil-free wipes, cream blush, lip balm, nude lip liner, a pink lipstick (Yves Rocher) and a red lipstick (Maybelline); a beige lipstick I use as an eyeshadow; pressed powder, loose powder, Touche Eclat, Smashbox, an eyeshadow palette in four shades of brown, a pale pink kohl pencil for the eyebrow area, a dark brown Revlon Wet n Dry eyeliner, beige under-eye liner, eyelash curlers, and brown mascara.

That's pretty much my daily kit, from the days when I wear no slap at all (maybe five days a week), to the days that I do the full monty. 

The rest of my kit, I carefully edited, chucking a lot of it out (unsatisfactory pale blue eyeliner, three lip glosses that were all identical, too-dark lipsticks etc), and the rump I've placed in a tiny drawer in the bathroom for 'special occasions' when I might wear a different shade of lipstick, or black mascara, for instance. I have no need, btw, for anything to do with nails as my hands are a disaster zone...

Honing down my daily makeup kit has freed up a lot of space on my landing windowsill, which is where I sit to do my slap in the only bright north light available. When I'm done, I now put it all back in the box, push the box into the window recess, and leave everything clear - more light to come in, less mess to clean up. 

Going through your makeup kit is something you should do every six months or so, as your makeup isn't designed to be used for very long. It's constantly picking up bacteria from your skin, so make sure that you renew it on a regular basis (unless, like the Smashbox, it's in an airless dispenser).  

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The desirable dozen

Twelve foolproof makeup products for women over 40

MaybellineIn the interests of not wasting money on crap, here are my Top 12 picks for makeup products.

I favour simple, quick make-up appication, preferably with my fingertips, using reliable products and these are the items I find I use the most in my makeup armoury. Cheap or expensive, they are all worth their money, do the job and stay put. 

1 Smashbox Photofinish skin primer. The most impressive makeup product I've found in years, this colourless silicone-based primer glides on over your skin and provides a fabulous, smooth base for applying makeup. Used alone, it makes your skin look 'finished', but as a make-up base, it's simply wonderful - no more dragging, pulling or tidemarks.

2 Diorskin Airflash foundation. This  spray is extremely light, resulting in a perfect matt but not chalky finish. You're meant to apply half a dozen squirts at a distance of about 15cm, but I find two squirts mixed with one squirt of skin primer mixed on the back of my hand is a better bet, then apply it quickly with the fingertips.

3 Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse makeup. For days when your skin's a bit blotchy, this heavier foundation works very well. It's a little too heavy and matt for my tastes to use every day, but this means it also works as a concealer - to use it this way, I apply it with one of those tiny makeup brushes you get in an eyeshadow palette. 

4 Yves St Laurent Touche Eclate. An all-in-one highlighter and concealer that is like photoshopping your face. Gets rid of thread veins, dark circles, the little draggy bits round your mouth. Fabulous product - never go anywhere without it. 

5 Maybelline Dream Mousse blusher. Incredibly light texture and a natural appearance, with just a tiny hint of sparkle to give you a glow. Also works well as an eyeshadow or under-eye concealer.

6 Dior pressed or loose powder. Loose for use at home, pressed for on the go. Foundation and powder are two areas where quality really shows, and Dior powders are very light and mattefying without ever looking chalky.  Refills are available and the compact closes with an expensive click that is very pleasurable.

7 Couleurs Nature Metalgrow Cream Eyeshadow in gold from Yves Rocher. A fabulous gold liquid eyeshadow that looks great every day. I would also have recommended Avon's creme stick eyeshadows for their nice texture, no drag, and good colours - and, importantly, a low price - but sadly they seem to have discontinued them and nothing in the new range looks remotely as good.

8 Revlon Wet/Dry Eyeliner in Chocolate Bar. Buy it if you find it - it's also been discontinued, due to some idiocy at Revlon's end. This eyeliner was THE choice for professional makeup artists for over a decade and I've been using my one stick (carefully sterilised) for at least 12 years now.

9 Boots No7 Extreme Length mascara. A friend gave me a free sample of this and I can't believe how good it is for the money. I usually spend about 28 euros on a high-end French mascara, but this budget brand gives a bright, clear eye with no clumping or flaking. 

10 Couleurs Nature lip pencil in Rose Poudre, from Yves Rocher. A useful lipliner in a shade just slightly darker than natural, and with a brush at the opposite end. On 'natural' days, I use it as a lipstick also, but as a liner, it goes with any lip colour.

11 Chanel Rouge Hydrabase cream lipsticks. Great colour and staying power, and I just love the click they make when you put the stick back in its case. 

12 Vaseline petroleum jelly. Let's not forget the humble Vaseline, which is a chapstick, lip gloss, eyebrow tamer and moisturiser all in one. I also use it as a night cream and on vicious winter days I wear it as a moisturiser outside. For dry, cracked hands, just rub it in like handcream and go to bed wearing plastic gloves, and if your heels are dry or sore, rub in Vaseline, slip on a pair of plastic bags and then socks and your feet will be transformed by morning. Magic.

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