Beauty and Makeup

Bobbi Brown makeup get a jolt of colour

Bobbi Brown is forsaking neutral tones for kaleidoscopic colour

The other day, as I was walking through House of Fraser, I did something I haven’t done for ages: I actually bought an item of make-up.

This might seem like a perfectly ordinary activity. But for a person whose desk is deluged with cosmetics on a daily basis, it really is a bit bonkers. After several years in this job (a job which is, as my friend Anna never ceases to remind me, The Best Job In The World), I have more random samples of make-up than any sane woman could ever require in a single lifetime. I really do not need to go buying any more.

And yet it seems not even I am immune to the charms of the cosmetics hall. Or, to be precise, the charms of Bobbi Brown. For it was to a small pot of Eye Brightener, below (£21.53;, that I surrendered, won over by the skill of the lovely young saleswoman, who swiftly and expertly erased the dark shadows that have taken up residence around my eyes.

That is the thing about Bobbi Brown. If I could only use one make-up brand for the rest of my life, Bobbi Brown would be it. It’s not just the products, which are clever and practical (although I wish Eye Brightener came in a tube instead of a pot: much less messy). It’s Brown’s whole attitude to make-up, which is that it’s not about fashion, or fads, or silly must-have crazes; it’s about looking good and feeling confident whatever your age.

Enhancing what gifts nature gave us is, of course, why most of us first start using make-up. As we age and those charms cruelly erode, our requirements change. It becomes less about embellishment and more about preservation or restoration. Sallow skin, dark circles, uneven skin – this is what Brown really understands, and this is where her magic works most famously. But there is another string to her bow.

I realised this as I sat down to read her latest make-up manual. Expecting the trademark browns and soft pinks, the myriad shades of beige, the subtle barely blacks, I experienced instead a riot of colour. Reds, pinks, purples, blues, golds and greens – a peacock palette to brighten dark February days. Discovering that Brown has a frivolous side is a bit like discovering that your great aunt used to be a flapper. It’s a delicious twist of glamour to an otherwise much loved but essentially safe brand.

For colourphobes like me (I’ll wear any shade of eye shadow, so long as it’s nude), it’s genuinely exciting to see colour used in such a versatile and accessible way. Brown has designed this manual for everyone, from beginners to professionals. The expertise it contains and the sheer variety of looks and ideas in its pages go a long way to explaining why she remains one of the best – if not the best – in the business.