The new black

I've come to the Mac Cosmetics store in Soho for a lesson in what's hot in make-up for spring/summer 2002. Terry Barber, head of make-up artistry, tells me that this year's trends are about a change in application, rather than colour. "You're aiming to get a soft-focus look," says Barber. "Think of those posters from the 1970s of women lounging in wicker chairs. Think Marsha Hunt."

Dark eyes are still in, but the look has been reinvented. "Eye make-up is smudgy, a bit shiny, sort of distressed and creased on the lids. It looks like you've worn it all day, and it should also look effortless. It's still dark eyes, but created with a colour, rather than black." So, swap your black eyeliner for one shot with colour, or use an equally dark, but coloured, eye shadow instead for a similar effect.

If you can't give up black eyeliner, use a soft kohl pencil, and line the inner and then the outer of the lower lid, then smudge it with your finger for that soft-focus look.

The key trend for mascara is to apply it to your lower lashes (do them first, so as not to leave an imprint on the lid when you look up to do the upper lashes). For a really dramatic effect, mascara the lower lashes, then go back and do them individually with the tip of the brush.

But it is blusher that is the key to getting that fresh-faced hippy look - and, again, the secret is in the application, rather than in a change of colour. "Apply your blusher much more on the front of the cheekbone, rather than higher up," says Barber. The eyes or lips only (ie, not both) rule still applies, so lips should be matt and neutral.

This time the matt lips look well moisturised, not dry. For best results on dark skin, apply a lip balm under the lipstick. The balm will make the colour slightly sheer, preventing what Barber calls "concealer lips".

If you do only one thing, try the blusher. Of all Barber's tips, this had the most noticeable effect. He applied Burgundy blusher from the Mac Pro range, in a V shape on the front of my cheekbone. The result was amazing, and I went back to office looking like I'd come back from more than a lunch date.

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