FIRST of all, let me start off by saying that I am no stranger to makeup. I'm not one of those types who could happily skip off to work without a scrap of war-paint on the old face. In fact, the mere thought of facing an entire day sans-mascara already has me clutching onto my cosmetics-kit for dear life.

It's not that I feel so insecure that I can't do without it, it's just that I simply don't feel myself without my trusty eyeliner and a spot of blush. Without it, I can't help but notice that I almost resemble the 16-year-old version of myself - pallid skin, plainer and tired-looking from watching Friends re-runs until 3am. It's not exactly the look I'm striving for.

So when a recent survey revealed that women spend an average of 474 days of their lives applying makeup, I barely even batted an Urban-Decay shadow-coated eyelid.

For most women, makeup comes as a sort of saviour - a trusty companion to get us through those days when we would rather just curl up in bed and shield our exhausted eyes from the rest of the world.

And yet, despite the mindblowing number of cosmetics brands, designer lines and beauty technologies now being made readily available for every age group, skin colour and preference - the industry of cosmetics can still often seem so blooming confusing.

Because we are bombarded with so many beauty rules on almost a daily basis, I decided to come up with a guide that will hopefully be of help to the average woman when it comes to surviving the perplexing world of beauty.

Survival tip one - bracing the shops: The cosmetics counters inside departments stores are more dangerous to our credit cards than mobile phones are to our dignity when we're half sozzled.

One must almost always, I repeat, always, enter with some sort of secret weapon to avoid the dreaded post-credit card spending horror. The name of that secret weapon? Lying.

You can almost depend on the fact that just as soon as you've stepped your determined foot in the door, the ladies in the white coats will glide up to you, bearing that gleaning, hypnotic smile before propositioning you with that earth-shattering question: "Can I help you with anything?"

Now I don't know about you, but every time I get asked this I'll reply with a rather trembly "just looking," seconds before I end up blurting out complaints about my oily-skin, mascara that "just keeps on smearing down my face," and sudden need for yet another new lippy.

Then before you know it, I'm running out the store with an armful of intricately-wrapped beauty bags, feeling desperately ashamed of my lack of ability to say no. Those cunning masters know exactly how to spot their victims.

So in order to avoid that rage that follows after you get home and realise the "life-changing" foundation you bought is three shades wrong and the lipstick that Miss Lab Coat said makes you look "glowing" in actual fact - makes teenage boy's snigger - ask for plenty of samples to try out before you make a commitment.

Tip Two - ignore some of the trends: Every once in a while we will be told that nude lips are "a big thing," or that bushy eyebrows are "all the rage." However what we won't get told - after we scamper off obediently to buy into it - is that sometimes these trends look plain ridiculous on us mere mortals.

So if you feel like you suit raspberry hues more than pillar-box red or simply don't feel comfortable with the whole beauty experimentation phase, stick with what you know. There are times when being "on-trend" simply won't do us any favours.

Final tip - take care of the essentials: It may seem terribly cliche but by taking care of the basics, aka skincare, your makeup will always glide on that little bit better. By making sure that you are religious about your cleanse, tone and moisturise regime, you're already half way there in earning your beauty stripes. However that doesn't mean staggering drunkenly into bed, then waking up with a half-used face-wipe stuck to the side of your pillow - at least try to use some of sort of deep-cleanser.

My last few pieces of advice would be to be brazen when it comes to samples, try not to succumb to the pressure of beauty sales-people, and to stick to your guns with what makes you feel good rather than with what you are told is "best-selling." I'm still working on it.