The new black

I can't remember who gave me my first make-up kit but, suffice to say, the colours suited me so badly that I ended up using them as paints rather than on my face. My friend and I used to send each other make-up pictures, and I'm proud to say that I still have one of hers (framed and everything) hung up in my flat. Artwork aside, the idea of make-up kits is a good one in theory, but one from which I have never really been able to benefit in practice.

I've always imagined that finding the right kit would be like finding a soul mate - you survived fine before you met, but you can't quite remember how. You'd have everything you needed in one small but perfectly formed package. But, alas, good make-up kits are as hard to come by. They tend to feature the most timid versions of a season's shades. Whenever I find one from which more than one of the elements looks good on me, I feel obliged to buy it in case that's as good as I'm going to get.

Now, make-up artist Vincent Longo thinks he has come up with a solution to suit me, and pretty much everyone else who thinks kits aren't for them. The new Spectralite Palm Palette is a range of graded colours in a mini palette.

The case (which is refillable) has a large mirror, four magnetised palette spaces and room for brush accessories.

The four sections can be filled with powder eye shadows, lip gloss or powder blushers, depending on which you prefer. Because the palette is magnetic, you can mix and match to suit your needs, instead of having to pick from a predetermined range of colours. The really clever bit is that every colour is graded, from the lightest to the darkest hues of each of the nine shades. The lighter part can be used to highlight and the darker section to add depth. Even the glosses are graded.

For those with dark skin, Longo recommends Maorine, a strong purple, on the eyes. This works well with aubergine, olive or navy pencils. On cheeks, try Kalahari (lobster pink). All three glosses - Kuara (a red with gold through it), Jadeite (a light pink) and Turamali (hot pink) - looked great when I tried them, but Kuara is Longo's tip for dark lips.

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