Sitting on top of Primrose Hill, north London, the other day, my friend Debra and I were pondering one of life's big questions: what, exactly, is the point of clear mascara?
Yes, I know, I'm living the dream, aren't I? Well, you'll be pleased to know that, after several hours of heated debate, we came to the conclusion that clear mascara, like it's cousin clear lip balm, can, in fact, save lives - or at least make lives a lot more stylish, which is pretty darn much the same thing.
The point is, clear mascara is one of the beauty industry's best-kept secrets. Not quite make-up, more a grooming product, clear mascara is often overlooked by those who assume that for something to be worth bothering with, it has to be obvious. Clear mascara is especially valuable at this time of year, when your usual mascara feels dry and flaky, and the novelty of having it on your cheek by the time you reach work has worn off.
"Clear products are about making you look groomed - it's that just-got-out-of-bed-but-looking-good look," says Terry Barber, of MAC. "You can go a bit mad with clear mascara on the lashes, use lots and allow the lashes to stick together. You can also use a setting gel or clear mascara to comb the eyebrows upward, make them look a bit wet or as if they've got gel on them. It's a make-up statement, but without using colour or make-up as such."
Clear lip balm is also often neglected, used only in a quasi- medicinal way. But a liberal amount of lip balm is perfect for those who don't necessarily want the diva look of full-on gloss, yet still want sexy, shiny, just-licked lips.
To complete the look, go the whole hog with a dab of clear lip balm on the cheeks, giving them a more sculpted appearance and - as long as your lip balm doesn't have a menthol or any other flavoured base - put some on the eyelids, too, to add a wetness that gives the whole face a very modern, sexy look that moves you seamlessly from just got out of bed to just stepped out of the shower. I know which I find sexier.