Women spend thousands in their lifetime on their makeup. Anna Hunter finds the products that work the hardest

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According to a new study, British women spend almost £40,000 on getting their after-dark hair and makeup ‘just so’ during their lifetime. This makes me:

a) Dread to think how many times in the future I may have to remortgage to feed my blusher habit (if I can afford a house/flat/rabbit hutch in the first place that is)

b) Recoil at the amount we must be spending to achieve that ‘no makeup makeup’ daytime look

To break it down, women spend on average £104 a month on their night-out beauty arsenal; in a year the bill came to an average of £1,248. The women surveyed were between the ages of 18-50, and many were blissfully unaware of the cosmetic consumption, as one woman revealed:

“I was shocked when I worked out exactly how much I spend on my hair and face before hitting the town - yet compared to some of my closest friends, I don’t spend much at all.”

I’m going to go against every fibre of my being here and say ‘don’t be that girl’. In my first column I laid bare my obsessive compulsive cosmetic collecting, but ’tis the season for a spring clean, and perhaps it’s time to make our makeup work that little bit harder to earn its keep. I’m not suggesting that your rouge pay rent; simply that your makeup kit becomes a well-oiled, multitasking machine.

MORE GLOSS: Women spend 55 minutes a day in front of a mirror

When you have five products taking care of business instead of 39, a weight is lifted both from your handbag and psyche. There’s a time and a place for that sparkly green eyeliner. It’s Christmas. If you only use it once a year, ditch it from your daily kit and commit to an altogether more streamlined everyday supply. Not only do many cosmetics do double-duty, modern makeup is much cleverer than that old pan stick that you’ve had lying around since 1988. From foundation with cutting-edge skincare benefits to anti-ageing eyeshadow and high-tech highlighters, the latest launches are resourceful and a touch space age.

The oldies are still goodies too, mind - it’s about balancing the hard grafters and the genius innovations to free up our makeup bags, bathrooms and time without compromising on results. I bring you my brigade of breadwinners. Each delivers the goods without a hitch and performs more than one job. I suggest you make one or all your loyal servants.

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks

£19, www.bobbibrown.co.uk

I rely on this two-in-one wonder daily and I’m in good company - it’s also makeup artist Arabella Preston ’s pick:

“This is the ultimate multi-tasking product in my opinion - it gives the best dewy flush on the cheek and popping a little of the colour on your lips and patting it in makes you look pulled together in no time at all.”

NARS The Multiple

£30, www.narscosmetics.co.uk

Available in a range of bronzy, pearly, peachy and generally flattering shades, this creamy multi-use stick is a doddle to apply and adds warmth and a healthy sheen to cheeks, eyes, collarbones, brow bones… wherever you want eyes to linger. Its cream-to-powder formulation gives it more staying power than more slippery products on the market and the velvety texture makes skin look altogether pretty luscious. One thing I would say is that although The Multiple lists lip colour amongst its many virtues, it’s a bit too dry to deliver a perfect finish. Either mix with balm or try a liquid multitasker. Such as…

Becca Beach Tint

£20, www.beccacosmetics.com

This is the perfect surfer girl stain - fresh, outdoorsy, water-resistant and smells of summer (fruity in a non-cloying way). It blends beautifully into cheeks and creates a just-bitten effect when dabbed onto lips. It stays put come hell or high water and works well layered with powder blusher or gloss - not strictly multitasking, but it lends longevity to other products.

MAC Strobe Cream

£23.50, www.maccosmetics.co.uk

Packed full of botanicals, antioxidants and green tea, you could be forgiven for thinking that this iridescent classic was an elixir of life. In fact, it sort of is, applied externally of course. Whether blended with foundation or moisturiser, traced across cheekbones or smoothed onto legs, the superstar Strobe adds a luminous sheen and blurs imperfections. Dismisses dull skin in seconds and lasts for months, if not years.

Wild about Beauty Golden Skin Glow

£21, wildaboutbeauty.com

If you love fake tan but can’t stand the smell/faff/developing time involved it’s time to meet Golden Skin Glow. I am of the pasty persuasion and find that this light-textured liquid creates a believable bronze tint. It washes off - but only when you want it to.

Dior Twin Set Eyeshadow Duo & Blend Pen

£24, www.feelunique.com

Inspired by setting tricks and techniques of backstage makeup artists, this genius shadow pen hails from the Spring 2013 Chérie Bow collection. If you can get your hands on it it’s worth the hunt - with a highly pigmented, velvety pencil shadow on one end and an iridescent powder on the other, this pen conjures up an intense, sultry gaze in seconds. Layer together or use the pencil shadow as a liner depending on the desired effect. Smudgy eye pencils like this can add a lot more than definition to your evening look, as Arabella highlights:

“A soft eye pencil with a little shimmer ( NARS in Kyoto  or MAC in Powersurge  are both favourites) is a must in your kit. Use it to roughly line the eyes then use a finger to smudge and blend over the eyelid for a soft wash of colour. You can then go back with the same pencil and line the eyes more carefully. This has saved the day for me on many occasions when faced with a night out and only an eye pencil in my bag.”

Urban Decay Naked Palette (1, 2 or 3!)

£37,  www.debenhams.com

Purchase this paintbox of matte, pearlescent and metallic eyeshadows and you will never want for an eye colour again. From pale neutrals to smokey, high impact hues, there’s a colour for every occasion (and with 12 colours, almost every waking hour).

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30

£28, www.narscosmetics.co.uk

A fail-safe base that is Arabella’s number one skin staple:

“This veil of colour is wonderfully hydrating - it has all sorts of 'goodies' in it to treat the skin, not to mention that it’s bolstered with sun protection. Mainly though it makes your skin look incredible!”

Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Dual-Ended Mascara

£21,  www.bobbibrown.co.uk

Described as ‘the best of both worlds’, this magic wand marries two of Bobbi’s most popular mascaras: No Smudge and Extreme Party. That sounds like a recipe for a good time in itself. Part of the Pretty Powerful make-up artist’s new Perfectly Defined collection, these mascaras complement each other perfectly - volume, definition and 10-hour waterproof wear in one tube.

This edit is by no means exhaustive, but both this feature and my bathroom shelf are reaching their limit. Multitasking accolades should also be bestowed on the classic Benefit Benetint , seamless Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer , all-natural RMS Living Luminizer  and skin soothing, youth-preserving limited edition  Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Cool Radiance Highlighter  and Cream Eyeshadows . A word on pricing too - none of these diligent makeup marvels are cheap, but all go on to stand the test of time and transcend all trends. Choose one or two and your investment will pay back in kind.