x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Make-up is like a third leg

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the demise of make-up; how the new season's trends are all about being "pared down".

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the demise of make-up; how the new season's trends are all about being "pared down"; how fabulous an apparently bare-faced Gemma Arterton looked at the recent London premiere of Tamara Drewe; and wouldn't it be a great idea if we all just threw our make-up bags on the bonfire. This, frankly, alarms me. Ever since on my sixth birthday my parents gave me a plastic doll's head, complete with a tray of gaudy pastes, powders and hair products, I have been obsessed with the stuff. My sister and I spent hours teasing this long-suffering and rather wiry-blonde's tresses into perms (this was the 1980s), and caking her eyelids with sparkly blue powder. Until I was about 10, when anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, I would reply wistfully, "a beautician".

It was, therefore, a long slog to 14, the age at which my parents finally allowed me to wear make-up (the onset of pimply teenage skin having forced their hand). I saved up for weeks to buy a black No 7 mascara and a Rimmel concealer, and only wore them on very special occasions - basically when boys were involved - for maximum impact. University, though, was a different story. By this point we were in the grip of Spice Girls-fever, so it was all about the sparkle. Luckily, my flatmate was similarly obsessed, and together we would wander around town with small glittery hearts stuck to our cheeks and a blaze of iridescent power around our eyes. The climax came when we decided to "share" a box of Guerlain Meteorites - a pot of divine-smelling shimmery balls that cost the earth. Come the holidays, we would take turns to have them (it never occurred to us to put half in a different container; this was not, you may have guessed, Oxford).

Things have levelled off since then and my daily product count now only comes to about 10. But I have, over the years, come to think of make-up as a kind of luxurious third leg. Apart from the obvious improvement to my appearance, there is something deeply therapeutic about the application process. While every other morning task is carried out at double speed, you can't, as every girl knows, rush mascara.

So while Gemma Arterton may be happy to step outside all dewy-faced, I will not be joining her. Like that episode in Sex and the City in which Carrie realises she has spent the cost of a house on shoes ("I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes," she wails), I will be the one shuffling about in my make-up bag, sparkly hearts and all.