Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beauty books that changed my life

Though beauty blogs, websites and your local cosmetic girl are very informative, there's nothing quite like a lovely hefty tome of knowledge. I am a beauty book hoarder and have read HUNDREDS, all the way from those old 80's tomes that help you figure out which colour "season" you are to the latest research. There is a lot to learn from everyone, but I most certainly have a few favorites. The ones I've read several times are listed here.

Oh Dr. Murad, how do I worship thee. Those who know me, know how much I respect this man. It was reading this book that changed my whole outlook on my body, and the potential to heal cellulite. The one book I recomend to each and every woman I know.

This one a FABULOUS for decoding all of those mystifying ingredient labels. And after comparing it to every product I've bought over the years, I consider myself a bonafide cosmetic expert. Fabulous reference.

All images courtesy of


The best possible introduction to the often intimidating and scary world that is Sephora. Even seasoned beauty shoppers have been mighty mystified when first walking into a store. This book immediately makes it clear, which products are all time favorite best selling and beloved. Plus, there's a whole lot of tricks compiled from faithful clients and the regular every day Sephora workers.

Oh Paula Begoun. The only way a person could ever be more critical of the cosmetic industry would be if they were entirely against creams in every way. You've got to love her for calling bullshit on a whoooole lot of cosmetic companies claims, but yes she does take it too far. Of her thousands of reviews, she's only actually put a few on her own skin. The rest, she dissects the ingredient list and deduces from there. In my experience, the ingredient list is a great way to get an understanding of why a product does or doesn't do the job for myself and others, but can never replace actually putting the product on. The way that ingredients work synergistically, along with how they feel on the skin and off course, the ever present placebo effect, also have a huge hand in how a certain cosmetic works.

Here is her overall dissection and dissertation. Not so much about reviewing products, as it is her overall opinion on all the anti-aging trends, all the consumer fears about things like parabens and etc etc.

Nadine is the original beauty blogger and the girl with the infamous backstory (her blog, in a way was her demise in the beauty editor world but she singlehandedly created our way of being involved in the industry). This adorable book is part memoir, part dissertation of her favorite products and best knowledge. Plus the way she writes is just plain funny and real, as she puts it herself, no preaching no lies. Yes she says picking pimples is bad, but she cops to doing it too (sigh, me too).

There are too few people who appreciate the beautiful features of all the different races there are (the satiny hair of Asian women, the full lips of black women, the amazing eyes of Middle Eastern women, the perfect bodies of Latina women, and the ridiculously beautiful mixes that happen when multi-racial women are born). I read this book first when I was about 15 or 16 and went out there looking at everyday beauties I'd never before appreciated. Though I am most definitely white and was born with the traditional blonde hair and blue eyes (I'm darker now) I've felt an amazing sense of jealousy whenever meeting women with the amazing features common to their ethnic origin. SOMEONE needed to celebrate these differences.

Bobbi is the queen of natural makeup. I personally would never and will never have the confidence to do my whole face the way she does (though I do take lot of her tips and mix it for what works for me). For those looking for a book which teaches them makeup techniques that are quick, simple, look natural and flatter their unique features, Bobbi's philophy is perfect. She does come off preachy, but follow her sermon and you will wind up with a you but better face: natural, healthy, glowing and simple. This is not about trends, looking like a photoshoot or being perfect to start off with. This is about making the best of what you have.

Living beauty is Bobbi's ode to women, not teenagers. Though I, at 20 years old am FAR from her target audience in this book, I found so much inspiration in the way she thinks of aging. Wrinkles, gray hair and sagging are not the end of the world. In fact they increase positivity. I say, by the time someone hits 40, it's much more flattering and positiveto embrace what's going on and make the bets of it, than it is to constantly try to look 20 years younger. Though a fancy cream, a push up bra and some highlights can make anyone feel better about themselves the only way to ever achieve peace with oneself, is to embrace their flaws (this does not apply to me, I am 20 and I look worse naked then my mom at almost 40 does, that is not acceptable).

Rona Berg is one incredibly intelligent woman. If you are the reader who completely fears cosmetics in every way, yet wants to absorb as much knowledge as humanly possible from one book, this hefty tome is the way to go.

Oh Kevyn. Now HIS makeup philosophy suits me. No rules, no preaching, all inclusive. Kevyn WORSHIPPED women, all women. From the world's most glamorous (Linda!) to those who had never met a lipstick or a perfume before. He saw the beauty in all of us, and worked tirelessly to help us uncover it too. His contour work is ridiculous and beautiful and he created an entire generation's philosophy on makeup. The way he talks about his early experiences making up his sisters and worshipping Barbra Streisand always, without fail brings me to tears.

This is Kevyn's portfolio of work brought to all of us. Though his other books were either focused on his best tips, or the cult of his personality, this is pure, inspirational eye-candy.

Kevyn's second instructional book focused on bringing more of the amazing makeovers he does plus giving us his best interpretations of the past's defining looks and his ideas of what is to come.

Kevyn's original book. I first read this at the tender age of 12 and it inspired my whole obsession with the power of makeup that to this day continues to absorb so much of my attention. This is a book that should be gifted to any young girl starting off in those pesky teenage years that has an interest in cosmetics.

Linda Wells knows her stuff, after all, being the editor of Allure, you DO pick up a few things. Her tone and philosophy on the whole subject strikes the perfect balance between adoring cosmetics and being a hoarder, and being realistic about the claims that companies make.

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