At the suggestion of Gina, who lurks on here (hi, Gina!) and is a makeup artist, I bought a copy of Laura Mercier’s makeup book, The New Beauty Secrets. Paraphrasing, Gina said she uses a lot of the same approach and techniques as those in the book.
I find beauty and makeup books interesting. I am no makeup pro, more of an enthusiastic dabbler. The New Beauty Secrets seems geared to someone like me. It covers “the basics” without being too basic. It also features a number of natural, flattering looks that are age appropriate for me and other women no longer in their twenties — looks that seem increasingly hard to find in popular fashion magazines, in my opinion. At the same time, Mercier’s no killjoy. She invites you to have fun with your makeup and suggests different things to try if you find yourself in a makeup rut.
One of the things I like best about the book is it features full-page photos of celebrities and supermodels, their faces made up by Mercier. As far as I’m concerned, there can never be too many pictures of Linda Evangelista. Furthermore, many of these women are my age or older. Granted, I’ll never look like Christy Turlington or Isabella Rossellini, but it’s nice to see their faces and not a 17-year-old model staring back at me. And the book is worth it just for the photo of Ellen Barkin.
The first beauty book I ever bought was Bobbi Brown Beauty. For some of you youngsters, Brown’s approach may seem kind of old-school. But for me, 10+ years ago or thereabouts, Brown was groundbreaking. She offered a palette that was designed to enhance in a “natural” way (yes, I’m aware of the irony.) Her lipsticks were lip-colored. The finished Bobbi face was very much her signature, and I welcomed it at the time like water in the neon-blue-eyeshadow desert.
Bobbi Brown Beauty was the first book that allowed me to glimpse the way a makeup artist works — wielding foundation, blush and other tools the way any other artist uses pastels or other art materials, this time in the service of beauty. Brown’s book is lengthier, with more text and more detail than Mercier’s, and it’s fun to compare where their opinions and technique overlap and where they differ.
Bobbi Brown’s clearly reaching out to a younger audience; she now has a range of colors the line eschewed a decade ago. And now there are plenty of choices — some might argue better choices — for that ultra-“natural” look. Further, there are things about Brown’s line that never quite add up for/on me. I am fair and pink, and while I appreciate Brown’s yellow-based-makeup philosophy, a few of her products — as applied by Bobbi SAs — look sallow on me. Also, like MAC gals, the gals at Bobbi are often wearing too much makeup. Maybe that’s a hazard of working in makeup; you feel like you’re repping your product better that way? But every time I see a beautiful girl in her 20s with her skin buried under a thick layer of foundation and powder, I fight the urge to reach for a MAC wipe and take that mess off.
Back to Mercier – she has some great hand-drawn diagrams I found incredibly useful. For instance, a section on eye makeup that shows how to compensate for various eye placements (deep set, close set, downward tilt, etc.) Like Bobbi Brown she’s all about the skin prep — cleansing, primer, correct powdering technique. Sometimes I wonder whether this attention to seven-layered facial finish is better geared to photo shoots than daily life. On the other hand, her technical details are news to me. I’m going to try her finishing powder application advice, which involves a velour puff rather than a brush, since I feel like I always end up looking over-powdered. And who can resist a woman who prescribes hot baths as a way of soothing yourself? Not me.
You can find Mercier’s book in various places, including her website, for I think $35. Or you can do what I did and get it from abebooks.com, the holy grail of used book-dom, for $13ish, depending. It’s a hardcover, coffee-table type book with gorgeous illustrations, as I mentioned. Bobbi Brown Beauty is a more utilitarian paperback, although it’s also full of photographs and illustrations of technique, and is probably dirt cheap on abebooks.
So. Opening this up — does anyone else have any recommendations for cosmetic or beauty books they find particularly interesting, useful, or delightful as eye candy? What do you think of Bobbi and/or Laura Mercier? Do you find the concept of “natural” looking makeup (I’m talking about appearance, not natural ingredients) ridiculous? Are there trends you feel should only be for the young? Looks that nobody should wear?