But say you're sick of the mess and clutter and you want to reduce your product collection to the bare minimum: we've narrowed everything down to eight products that form the skeleton of a perfect kit. Obviously the time will come for a neon green eyeliner or a primer, but these are the things you'll find yourself using again and again, and as long as you have them, you'll be able to keep yourself looking respectable whatever trend is in fashion.
A black eyeliner
Basically a life tool for me, anyway. The perfect thing to make you look more finished and quickly vamp you up for impromptu events. They're also very versatile - create everything from a retro cats eye to a sexy smudged look with just the one item. If black is a bit too dark for you (might be a bit much on small eyes, as dark colours make them appear smaller), brown is a good alternative - especially if you have blue eyes: brown makes them pop.
An all-purpose balm
I'm talking your Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream type thing: a multitasking goo that can act as a lip balm, moisturiser for emergency dry patches, highlighter when applied to cheek and brow bones and even relief from minor burns and skin irritations. Usually I would have said the Eight Hour Cream was the best choice, but I've been using Lucas Papaw Ointment recently which is just as good, lasts - dare I say it - twice as long as its famous counterpart, and is way cheaper at £5.40.
For most of you, I would say that these are more important to the health of your make up bag than mascara. I'm excluding myself from that statement because as a redhead I have blonde eyelashes, and curling them without using mascara afterwards is completely pointless, but if you've got dark ones, curling them makes a huge difference. I'm a passionate advocate for their use, and without a doubt, shu uemura's ones are the best - at £20, definitely an investment worth making.
I prefer using cleanser to face wipes, but that's just because I'm paranoid I'm not getting all of the days dirt off of my face thoroughly enough if I use one. Not that I'm completely backed up on that front - I have friends with perfect skin who only used face wipes to clean their skin, so I guess it works for some people! However, when you've come in from a night in and you're finding it too much of an effort to stand up long enough to wash your face, face wipes are better then nothing, so I consider them a household staple. The best wipes I have ever tried are Kleenex's Facial Wipes - they are softer than a brand new towel and excellent at getting every trace of make up off.
Every girl needs a good concealer - they can turn terrible days into good ones, all with their ability to brighten up complexions, cover a spot or disguise a dark circle. To cut down on clutter, try and choose a good all-rounder one - nothing with light reflecting particles (if you put that onto a blemish it will just emphasise it). Crème de la Mer's The Radiant Concealer is really good for everything, but at £45, it's very pricey (although a little goes a long way). NARS' Concealer is a great cheaper version at £17.50 - warm it up between your fingers before applying it under your eyes to help it sink in.
You will never realise what a difference filling in your eyebrows will make until you do it the first time. They always say that eyebrows frame the face, and defining them somehow brings out all of your other features more dramatically, and gives your face a whole new structure. Try it - I promise you'll never look back. Benefit have a great range of shades for all hair colours in their Instant Brow Pencil (£14).
Fake a healthy glow if you aren't feeling your best, define your cheekbones, balance out your lipstick: blusher does all these things and more. Plus if you choose a cream or liquid tint type blush, they can also double as a lip colour!
A nude lipliner
Having a coloured lipliner to match every shade of lipstick you own is a space consuming and pointless annoyance, because you actually only need one. A nude lipliner in the same shade as your natural lip colour does its job (keeping the lipstick on your lips and out of fine lines) and gets covered up by whatever colour goes over it. Genius!
By Steph Powell