I read beauty blogs and websites just about everyday, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction to be had from physical reading material – and no, a Kindle won’t do. The occasional flip through a magazine is great, but what about a meaty tome dedicated to beauty? Now we’re talking. Here’s what to check out next time you fancy some beauty swotting.
Despite several things demanding the attention of my eyeballs lately, I’ve sped through No More Dirty Looks and it’s quite the eye opener. Written in a well-balanced, colloquial, not-too-scaremonger-y style, Spunt and O’Connor break down the myth and science of cosmetic safety with input from dermatologists, oncologists and a PhD worth of clinical studies. Easily ‘searchable’ by ingredient or area (hair, nails, skin, tanning – they’ve covered the lot), the chapters come fully loaded with a selection of cleaner product suggestions. My edition was published in 2010, so I can see this dating fairly rapidly but I recommend the NMDL Blog and I’m sure they’ll have a dedicated database fairly soon.
Some of the questionable ingredients are just that, questionable, and not decisively linked to any problems but the girls provide the info and leave you to make your own decisions about how far to take cleaner cosmetics. Luckily, for us Europeans, many of the nasties mentioned are either banned or heavily restricted – but it’s still great food for thought.
Ostensibly a resource for makeup artists, or anyone more adept with a blending brush than myself, this highly visual book is packed with before and afters on a range of skin tones and textures. The products used (all NARS, of course) are ‘written’ onto acetate overlay, making it feel delightfully like one of those multi-layered, multi-textured books I had as a kid. Broken down by age ranges, François explains the loose ‘phases’ of makeup and how to find what works, alongside plenty of encouragement to embrace even the ‘most surprising colour’.
Interestingly François, on makeup for teens and twenties, states ‘I don’t necessarily advocate colour cosmetics for those under the age of 15 or 16 (I think a made-up face is seductive, and that quality is inappropriate in a young girl).’ High five, Monsieur Nars. High five.
Launched around International Women’s Day, Pretty Powerful is packed with anecdotes about confidence and the ‘other side’ of beauty. Focusing first and foremost on what women do rather than what they look like, from boxers and designers to mums and actresses, it’s the sort of thing you’d want to place in the hands of every young girl in the land, before the Daily Mail ‘Sidebar of Shame’ creeps in with a merry march of insecurities.
This is a neutral-lovers dream as the focus is on emphasising natural features, and where bolder colour is used it’s judicious enough to be easily recreated at home. There’s a good mix of visual before and afters, stories about the ladies featured, skincare tips, quick makeup lessons and face charts with step-by-step guides.
Having carved out one of the most impressive post-reality-TV career niches, ‘L.C.’ released Lauren Conrad Beauty last year, following Lauren Conrad Style. Taking a holistic approach to beauty, therefore getting a huge thumbs up from me, the book covers fitness, nutrition and stress management; alongside the usual hair, makeup and nails in a style which will be familiar if you read The Beauty Department. It’s a little saccharine in places, those embarrassing story preambles sound a bit too thought out, but it’s a handy reference point for just about anything beauty and a really nice option for those just getting into makeup.