10 best makeup books to inspire you

With so many makeup books available it is hard to know which ones are going to be worth buying. When you shop online you can’t skim through the pages and decide whether or not the book is for you. Makeup reference books are something I like to keep in my studio to flick through to seek inspiration. I believe that you can learn something from everyone but this is my list of the most inspirational makeup books that every artist needs to read.

1 - Art & Makeup by Lan Nguyen-Grealis

Lan Nguyen-Grealis has become a household name after appearing on the UK show Glow Up. Her style is daring and the looks she creates are breathtaking, living artworks. One of the only makeup books I have found that lists the exact products used in each look. There is a full break down of techniques used in the book at the back with step by step photos. Whether you are starting out or a product junkie, this book is stimulating and will have you gagging to turn each page. I will forever be in shock and awe over Lan’s use of colour, non-conventional shapes and textures. Lan’s confidence in herself as an artist means she is generous with her knowledge. Lap it up, devour it.


2 - Making Faces - Kevyn Aucoin

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Kevyn Aucoin has a cult following for a reason. He was the first celebrity makeup artist and was sought after by top supermodels and celebrities. Kevyn breaks down the basic fundamentals of applying makeup and the tools you need. Even after training I picked up a lot of tips from this book. When I need inspiration, I flip through the pages and pick up different details each time. The book is a piece of art itself, it has huge pages filled with photos of beautiful transformations. This book is filled with essential information for beginners and intermediate artists. The instructions include illustrated how to sketches that make it easy to follow. Even with his passing we can access the wealth of information that Kevyn built.


3 - Face Forward - Kevyn Aucoin

Face Forward is the first book by iconic makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. He shares practical skills along with theoretical analysis of faces and skin. His break down of the tools he uses and the basic products you need should be included in all makeup education. Yet another gigantic book full of gorgeous images. Here he has transformed celebrities into well known figures such as Marilyn Monroe or Cleopatra. He shares an anecdotal introduction to each subject and personal notes about each look. Kevyn’s legacy continues to shine through his published books and the recent documentary about him released on Netflix.


4 - Face Paint: The Story of Makeup - Lisa Eldridge

Lisa Eldridge has created the most delicious feast for your eyes, Face Paint: the Story of Makeup. You may know her from her high class Youtube videos, or her immaculate lipstick range. Lisa is an authority in the makeup industry having been a creative director for companies like Lancome and Shiseido. She is the perfect guide for a journey through the history of makeup. An exemplary amount of research went into this book, going back as early as ancient Egypt. The impeccable historical reference images make this book unique and worth buying.


5 - Face to Face - Scott Barnes

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Whether you think the Kardashians are the most stunning creatures on the planet or you have a passing interest in contouring, this book by Scott Barnes is a great reference. While it doesn’t go into the beginner level details of how to do each step, the book contains inspirational images of before and after transformations that you can break down and do yourself if you are an artist. Read about Scott’s creative process and decision making path. He is a wizard at his craft and learning about his life in itself is the inspiration to be taken from this book.


6 - Beautiful Eyes - Rae Morris

Rae Morris is considered by many to be the Australian god mother of makeup. From having her own innovative brush line to running sold out masterclasses, she has honed her educational skills. Focusing on the eyes is a genius idea as this is one of the most difficult skills to master as a makeup artist. This book opened my eyes to new and inventive ways to open and lift eyes using false lashes. The step by step instructions are easy to follow and as this is a tiny book you can sneak it in your handbag for a quick read when you are out. I won this book at makeup school when I was awarded the ‘Student of the Year’ and did not purchase it, but this has not swayed my opinion.


7 - The Beauty of Colour: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Colour - Iman

Iman was one of the first women of colour to become a supermodel so she is well versed in makeup and the adversity faced by people of colour in this industry. At the time makeup artists had no idea how to apply makeup for her skin tone. The products available were only for pale skin tones. As a makeup artist you need to learn to apply makeup for all skin tones. This is rarely taught well in school so you need to take responsibility for being inclusive and learn it yourself. This book helped me with a plethora of knowledge about deep skin tones. The book itself is a work of art, with elegant colour photographs and images on every page. It covers skin care, foundations of makeup, lips and cheeks for every skin tone, eye makeup, celebrity transformations and makeovers of everyday women of colour.


8 - Asian Faces: The Essential Beauty and Makeup Guide for Asian Women by Taylor Chang-Babaian

This book contains a variety of looks and styles for different Asian faces. I would recommend that you have at least a grasp of beginner makeup techniques to be able to follow along with the directions. The tips I found the most useful were about eyebrow and lip shaping, skin tone matching and popular eyeshadow designs in Asia. Definitely one to add to your collection if you want to learn how to work on all eye shapes, follow the trends of the East and make your clients happy.


9 - Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup by Kerry Thompson

This book is pure delight on paper, whether you are new to K-Beauty or a pro. Getting into K-Beauty can be overwhelming with so many products available. Starting your own 10 step routine is easy with this book. You will be able to create your own routine uses the the best products with proven efficacy. Makeup is mentioned in this book, but being Korean style there is no heavy contouring or massive smokey eyes and lashes. Everything is soft and thoughtfully placed, which is an important skill to learn. Meticulous research combined with information about the latest ingredients makes this book pack a punch.


10 - ProMakeup Design Book: Includes 30 Face Charts: The Makeup Artist's Creative Workbook - Lan Nguyen-Grealis

Due to my adoration for Lan’s previous book, Art and Makeup, I pre-ordered this book as soon as she shared it on Instagram. Lan Nguyen-Grealis is one of the most creative makeup artists in the world. This book was developed for makeup artists to gain practical experience, as guided by Lan. The book contains face charts for you to work on and is organised by technical themes. Super excited to get this when it comes out and elevate my creative makeup skills. I predict this book will be a must have as her other books are excellent.