Under the counter
I have the misfortune of attending the same gym as a loud female colleague of my husband. Whenever I turn up, there she is, bellowing at me over the hum of the hairdrier, with her head between her legs and her butt in the air.

This is the woman who, after my first week there, hollered over to me "Are the pounds coming off yet?" I hadn't joined to lose pounds - I didn't need to lose pounds, but I couldn't think of a smart enough riposte for this La Perla sporting, Prada toting, Lotus driving, size 8 mother of two.

I have two theories about her: a) she is only trying to make conversation, b) she is a bitch from hell. The fact that she has encouraged a little addiction of mine, forces me to opt for "b". Twice recently she has extolled the virtues of YSL's Touche Eclat concealer just a little too pointedly.

The truth is, ever since my first Clinique "Bonus Time" freebie (the department stores are always dishing out goodies like this) my make-up bag has been breeding like billy-o. I have become so dependent on the array of products which Clinique has so kindly Bonus-Timed me with, that I need one of those Samsonite vanity cases to go shopping.

If I leave the table several times during the course of a meal and return with my eyes looking a little watery, it's not because I've been shooting up in the loos, just making up - again.

Once the mini freebies have run out they have to be replaced with their bona fide big brothers. The tiny 7ml pot of Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion will not bulge in the slimmest of bags, and can even be discreetly applied in the back of a taxi, but whip out the 125ml bottle and you look like an air stewardess or an ancient dowager.

The 5g teeny tub of "Transparency 3" allows for a quick powder fix when no one is looking, but you need to roll up your sleeves before you can powder up with the 35g version. In case of sudden tears or unexpected swimming pools the Full Potential Mascara needs a waterproof understudy and one Different Lipstick is never enough: "Glazed Wildberry" for positive power-lipped days, a bijou pot of "Tenderheart" Glosswear for trendy waif- like weekends and "Super Spice" for sultry sex goddess soirees.

There are 14 Bonus items among the 21 pieces which constitute my bag of tricks. Make that 22, if you count my latest purchase - Touche Eclat by Yves Saint Laurent. But I'm not going to let her catch me using the stuff.

The winners by a nose

Clinique Bonus Time is now on at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London from 13 February until 1 March.

Buy two products to receive "Makeup and More": cosmetic bag, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Turnaround Cream, Rinse-off Eye Makeup Solvent, Eye-shadow Duo, Long Last Lipstick, Full Potential Mascara and the new tinted moisturiser - Almost Makeup.

Touche Eclat by Yves Saint Laurent, pounds 17.50.