Ultra nude eye palette, £37, bobbibrown.co.uk


Those uninitiated in the arcane art of cosmetics are baffled by the concept of a "nude" lipstick or eye shadow. Investing time and cash in make-up that suggests you've done nothing of the sort seems folly indeed. However, that's not quite how the fleshy, peachy tones hitting the beauty halls this spring function. In painting one's face, as in loftier visual arts, there's a distinction to be drawn between nude and naked. Nude suggests a knowingness entirely unlike the vulnerability and exposure of the naked.

Although it's doubtful that art historians had the following situation in mind when mooting the difference, anyone who has realised post-shower at the gym that they forgot their make-up bag will know this isn't quibbling over semantics. Even a resolutely minimal application provides both the appearance and feeling of preparedness.

Nude shades whisper, but the message isn't mealy-mouthed. Laura Mercier, one of several brands embracing soft pinks and apricots this season, has called her palette "lingerie" – the idea being that you're wearing just enough to make it clear you're not wearing much at all.