When YouTube tutorials and how-to blog posts are aplenty, one would think there’s no use for beauty books nowadays. But even with the constantly evolving beauty industry and the fast-paced innovation of makeup techniques that can easily be shared online, we still have a soft spot for actual, tangible books in our hearts and our coffee tables. Why, you ask? For one, we can’t help but get inspired every time we crack open our fave books, plus they look amazing on our bookshelves. Here are some of our faves to help you start your beauty book library!
Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin. Millennials may not know of Kevyn Aucion but he was the one of the most important makeup artists in the '80s and '90s, not to mention probably being the most well-paid in history. He worked on several cover shoots with Vogue, and collaborated with Revlon in a groundbreaking makeup line for all skin tones. Kevyn believed in the philosophy of helping women feel beautiful, with makeup as a tool to help them discover themselves.
For his book, he worked with big stars such as Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, and Elizabeth Hurley alongside everyday women of all colors and nationalities to show step-by-step illustrated makeup tutorials. What makes it stand out as an instructional makeup book is his historical take on the different makeup looks that worked through the decades, such as the '50s lip and '30s thin brow, film noir, and Hollywood bombshell looks.
Some find the techniques in his book a little dated - like his penchant for too-matte foundation - but Making Faces is a classic that we just can’t help going back to whenever we need to relearn the basics.
Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro. A perfect read for teenagers who are just starting to discover makeup or enthusiasts who want to make it in the beauty industry as an artist, the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual packs all the necessary information one would need about makeup.
It has the usual full color pages of how-tos, including the fresh-faced no-makeup look that Bobbi Brown is known for, but what makes it an interesting read are the insider tidbits about the makeup industry. For example, did you know that M•A•C was born because the makeup that was coming out that time were too shimmery and bad for photography? Or, do you need tips on how to break into the makeup industry and work with a celebrity or a photographer? All these questions are answered in a positive and empowering voice. Burying your nose into its pages is sure to give you the confidence to say, “Yes, I can master a smoky eye!”
BONUS: If you loved the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual, you’ll also love Bobbi Brown Beauty: The Ultimate Beauty Resource which has topics such as "Learning to appreciate your own beauty", "How to do makeup fast", "How to handle bad beauty days", "How to get out of a makeup rut", "How to make lipstick last", and "How to wear foundation correctly".
Makeup: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success - Online and Off by Michelle Phan. It was almost natural for YouTube makeup guru Michelle Phan to release a book. But when she was approached by a publishing house to come up with a coffee table book, Michelle, in her infinite passion to teach more than makeup, decided to write a life guide instead. And we couldn’t be happier!
The book follows Michelle's inspiring evolution from a girl who loved makeup into a successful businesswoman. Although there are tips on skincare, makeup, and style, Michelle also throws in valuable tips on relationships, how to turn passion into a profession, how to become an entrepreneur, and online etiquette.
Bloom: A Girl's Guide to Growing Up Gorgeous by Carmindy. Aside from Bobbi Brown, there are not a lot of books that talk to tweens and teenagers. In comes Bloom: A Girl's Guide to Growing Up Gorgeous by makeup artist Carmindy, a New York-based makeup artists who is famous for her stints in What Not to Wear and Good Morning America.
The book may not be targeted for more mature ladies, but it is still a good read for moms, aunts, and big sisters who want to teach younger women about makeup. The 10 chapters in this book cover topics and issues teens usually deal with, such as: basic skincare, eyebrow grooming, the 5-Minute Face, and even how to’s on zits and body odor.
We also find it endearing that Carmindy included awkward adolescent photos of herself and her team, plus bare-faced shots of the book's teen model.
The Coffee Table Books
Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself by Francois Nars. Penned by François Nars himself, founder of well-renowned cosmetics giant NARS, Makeup Your Mind ups the ante for other makeup instructional manuals by using breathtaking makeup transformations and dramatic makeup editorials. So even if it is technically a how-to book, this is one makeup manual you’d want to put on display to be appreciated everyday. A plus - each makeup spread has a clear acetate that overlays on the model’s face, showing readers where each product - all NARS cosmetics of course - should go.
Miles for M•A•C. Who would have missed the avant garde and revolutionary M•A•C advertising campaigns that graced billboards, storefronts, and magazines? If you have, Miles for M•A•C compiles some of the best M•A•C campaigns shot by celebrated photographer and artist Miles Aldridge in collaboration with James Gager, the Senior Vice President and Creative Director of M•A•C Cosmetics. This 200-page coffee table book showcases Aldridge’s otherworldly and surreal world of M•A•C. While not instructional, it makes for great eye-candy that you can draw makeup inspiration from
Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup by Jean Godfrey-June. Have you ever wondered how it is to live a beauty editor’s life? Well, you can find the answer in Jean Godfrey-June’s autobiographical book. You may be surprised to learn that it’s not always gift baskets and free moisturizers. Sometimes you have to endure makeovers from hell, “acne breakfasts”, and test shelves upon shelves of products on yourself. How do they deal? Read this book and go behind-the-scenes of the beauty editorial world.
Bonus: Jean Godfrey-June honestly and candidly answers the question “Is Creme de la Mer is worth it?” Aren’t you curious to find out?
Paul Starr on Beauty: Conversations with Thirty Celebrated Women by Paul Starr. No other industries are joined at the hip more than makeup and Hollywood. There’s even an ongoing joke that actresses confess more to their makeup artists than to anyone else. This is the same concept that goes behind Paul Starr on Beauty: Conversations with Thirty Celebrated Women. Paul Starr pairs original and revealing interviews with photographs of his favorite muses such as Cameron Diaz, Iman, Salma Hayek, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Renée Zellweger. Varying in ethnicities and ages, Paul’s interviewees talk candidly about makeup, beauty, and aging, with each interview having a commentary of how Paul achieved the look. Our favorite looks and interviews? Ellen DeGeneres, a young Britney Spears, and an even younger Lindsay Lohan.
No matter how awesome you think you are with hair, makeup, and skincare, there’s always something to learn from these beauty books you should definitely add to your reading list. So which ones are you looking to pick up on your next bookstore run?