Before Transformers was a problematic Michael Bay film franchise, it was a brilliant collection of children’s toys. Growing up, I was more of a Polly Pocket girl, but I secretly loved the bright, primary-coloured plastic robot monsters that turned into cars, tanks and… OK, it was mainly cars and tanks. As an adult, I have filled my make-up bag with Transformers – multifunctional products that punch well above their weight and do more than you might expect. These are some of my favourites – they offer so much more bang for your make-up buck, they free up valuable space in your make-up bag and they will help you to fight forces of evil, as long as you use their powers for good…
Growing up, I read a lot of 18th century and Victorian literature, largely because I had very few friends and absolute lashings of free time. Broadly, in the novels of that era, there are two modes of beauty for women. You can be slender, consumptively pale and close to death, but, even though I tried very hard to perfect the art of pathetic languishing, I was always far too sturdy, chunky and ruddy to be convincingly consumptive. The only other option is to be rosy cheeked, as if you’ve just returned from a brisk, windy walk around the estate of the man your mother wants you to marry because he can guarantee you eternal happiness with his eight thousand pounds a year. This is why I have an unshakeable attachment to blusher. It’s the quickest and most effective way to wake up one’s face.
However, a powder blusher requires care, attention and a brush that hasn’t fallen out of your make-up bag and been flattened between the pages of a paperback. So, if you’re after serious bang for your blusher buck, I would suggest investing in the silky soft NARS Multiple. It can be tapped on to cheeks and lips, it has a sheeny texture with a powdery finish and will instantly make you look like a beautiful heroine who has just completed a successful walk. It comes in a range of shades – I love the peach pink Portofino, and the Copacabana does great things for cheekbones, brow bones and collar bones.
I believe in miracles and, over the years, the purveyors of all sorts of cosmetics, toiletries and edible items have seen me coming and taken full advantage of this. However, when Charlotte Tilbury says “miracle” she is not messing about. This is the sort of stuff that inspires religious fervour; a deep cleanser that also works as a mask and an emergency fixer. As the clumsiest person I know, I have been waiting for the beauty item that works on cuts, scrapes and scaly elbows. It’s here. It’s loaded with rosehip and camellia oils, and my love of the rosehip is the one thing I have in common with the Duchess of Cambridge – it makes you glow, whether you’re opening a new school or opening a face-blanching letter from the bank asking you to come in and discuss your overdraft. Stick this in your make-up bag and know that you now have the means to take over the world, in a little gold pot.
My first Beauty Blender turned up in a Birchbox, and I admit that I was as fearful and suspicious as an iguana watching her hatchling being pursued by snakes. I was too old and scaly to find solace in a scary pink foam egg. How wrong I was! You can do more with a Beauty Blender than you can do with your lobes, according to the campfire classic Do Your Ears Hang Low? Like me, it has a full, rounded bottom, which can be used to pat foundation into the skin for coverage that’s even but fresh. You can pinch the pointy end to get into tricky corners, which means you can maximise your foundation coverage. You can use the tiny tip for contouring, blending the product into your face to make your bone structure look especially fabulous. (Before I tried the Beauty Blender, whenever I had a go at contouring I looked as though I was waiting for my Mum to come and sort out my face with a spitty hanky.) Create new textures with it! Blend products together with it! Cut it up! Squeeze it and make a wish! The only way it could possibly be more useful is if you could eat it.
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour
This is the only product I can think of that rewards the cack-handed idiot (moi) and the careful, artistic, thoughtful applicant. It’s a smudgy, shimmery, heavily pigmented eyeliner/eyeshadow hybrid. You can draw a quick, thick line if you have two minutes before leaving the house and want to look a little bit more polished. Or if you’ve got the luxury of time you can layer, smudge and contour until you look like a Jacqueline Susann heroine. It comes in 15 shades. I think Amethyst and Rose Gold are the most universally flattering, but I’ve got my, erm, eye, on the dark emerald Jungle.