Review: Top 10 Best Makeup & Beauty Books Which Will Turn You Into An Artist Par Excellance

Ok – not all these books are about airbrush makeup per se. But the theory of applying makeup with an airbrush gun is mostly the same as with traditional makeup. It’s just the technique and mode of application that differs. Most professional makeup artists use a combination of brushes, sponges, fingers, cotton, as well as airbrush makeup kits. Neither one is ‘better’–they just produce different results and knowing how to use them along with a solid foundation of makeup theory is the key to becoming the best makeup artist you can be.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not planning on becoming professional–it’s about getting the best out of your craft and learning what you can do with makeup. The more you know, the more you can have fun with it and in no time you will be developing your own styles and maybe even inspiring new looks. Just look at the number of amazing makeup videos that are around these days to be inspired by beautiful, self-taught makeup artists who were driven only by their love for the art.

These books not only form a starting point, but I also use many as constant reference or inspiration when I’m looking to push myself beyond a daily, 9-5 look. But, as you’ll see, some of these books will even bring out creativity in your every day look.

Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin

What has essentially now become a kind of bible for makeup artists, Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces should be the first book on makeup in your library (though it’s likely you already have it!). If you don’t have it, find a copy now!! It will not only take you through the basics of makeup theory but also develops through different looks and even includes exotic, glamor and beauty styles and some playful themes like ‘vamp’, ‘siren’ and ‘diva’. There are heaps of before-and-after photos of famous celebrities but Kevyn has also included just as many makeup transformations on everyday folk. The photos are a joy to look at. A large part of the book is also personal with Kevyn describing his life before getting into the industry and life within it. Highly recommended for everyone; not just makeup artists but also for people interested in an interesting life and stunning photography.

Jemma Kidd Make-up Masterclass: Beauty Bible of Professional Techniques and Wearable Looks

Jemma Kidd probably doesn’t need an introduction to most people interested in makeup and her book is up there with works by Bobbi Brown, Kevyn Aucoin and Carmindy for setting you on the right path to creating a gorgeous face with correct application. The book includes a wide range of looks and is mainly suited to those starting out or who have never looked at makeup theory before. Includes some great photos and lots of diagrams as well as complete instructions for every look.
Highly recommended for beginners with little background in technique as it is all in here.

Makeup: The Ultimate Guide by Rae Morris

When you’re ready to branch out and be inspired this is the makeup book to go to with stunning images and step-by-step how-to guides for creating high fashion and avant-garde looks. Rae Morris is an extremely gifted makeup artist and has won many awards. Her book is a must have and one that I keep coming back to even though I bought it almost three years ago. Sometimes it’s enough to browse some of the stunning photos for inspiration or read through the sections on color theory. The strongest parts of the book are related to eyes and eye-shadow but you will also find a large variety of challenging looks that push the boundaries of what you would normally think you would wear. Each of these looks is broken down into easy to understand instructions that demystify beauty looks that we would normally think are reserved for high-fashion. She shares secrets that many makeup authors just won’t tell you which, on top of the striking photos and how-to guides, makes this book highly recommended.

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro

A fantastic guide to one of the best known makeup artists and authors around. This is a book that I would recommend if you were only going to buy one book on makeup. It covers the basics, including color theory and technique as well as skin care but isn’t just restricted to the face with sections on body, hands and feet. Bobbi Brown also covers exotic looks such as tribal and geisha makeup which is really exciting. What may be useful to the budding professional makeup artist are her chapters on how to break into the industry and how to work with photographers as well as detailed lists of the tools you will need as a pro. Bobbi Brown is all about natural beauty and modernity and her words as well as her aesthetic are inspiring. Highly recommended for any level as Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual is as good as doing a course on makeup.

Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself: François Nars

Finally! A makeup book that has photos of ordinary people and from diverse ethnic backgrounds! This is an uplifting and visually inspiring book which will take you to the next level of makeup artistry. It’s not just an instructional book or a how-to guide, but is designed to demonstrate techniques that you can play with and then make your own. The book was only released this year and is up to date with the latest color palettes and theory. The before-and-after presentation is what makes this book stand out from any other book on makeup: each photo is presented with exactly the same lighting with a transparent sheet which sits over the ‘after’ photo printed with instructions for placement and products used (right down to the shade of makeup!). I love this book because Nars presents his looks on ‘everyday’ folk: teachers, artists, students rather than models. Unlike many books on makeup, people from several ethnic backgrounds are in the book and represent a whole spectrum of tones (hey, just like real life!). Though this book isn’t the first book I would every buy on makeup, this is one I highly recommend if you want to take your artistry up a notch and move beyond regular, everyday looks. All budding professionals should have this book.

Makeup Makeovers: Expert Secrets for Stunning Transformations by Robert Jones

One of my favorite books on makeup with over 100 beautiful photographs of non-models with a variety of ages and skin tones. Robert goes beyond the usual how-to guides, providing you with a context for everything he does. This is more of a ‘why-to’ apply makeup and that’s the most important thing: being able to understand why darker tones are used on the lips, for example, (instead of just blindly following an instruction book) means that you can break this ‘rule’ when you are trying something different. Makeup Makeovers is designed for makeup artists with some knowledge of makeup basics and may not be the first place to start if you are a beginner, but it’s a joy to flick through and almost every page has a hidden gem or little tip that helps you develop your perception of human facial structure in order to be able to recognize a person’s best features and how to work with that information as a makeup artist.

The Makeup Artist Handbook: Techniques for Film, Television, Photography, and Theatre

In their book, Gretchen Davis and Mindy Hall take you through the ins and outs of everything you will need to know about working in the film, television and theater industries as a professional makeup artist. Their book is highly recommended for those with a solid background in makeup but who need to take it to the next level with a compendium of information about this highly competitive world. It not only speaks to you as a makeup artist but also as someone who must deal with a variety of personalities (actors and directors for example) and workplaces all with their own sets of rules and demands for the makeup professional. This is a great book for airbrush makeup artists as it specifically addresses airbrushing, especially in relation to high definition television and film. It’s incredibly important to know how your technique shows up on HD monitors which will be unflattering for anyone with poor technique. It may look ok in the flesh, but any mistakes will be instantly picked out by even an untrained eye when filmed in HD. The Makeup Artist Handbook is almost like being an apprentice under two very accomplished makeup artists. Soak up their knowledge because it will always be of use to you–and then get out there and make it on your own with the confidence that you have learned all you need to learn from great books!

A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup: Conceptual Artwork by Japanese Makeup Artists

This is one of the rare books that I would describe as a ‘must have’–only, I don’t own a copy! Argh. I managed to convince a friend to lend me hers for a couple of weeks and it is absolute eye-candy. Unfortunately it is very hard to find and no longer being printed so the price has sky-rocketed. The original price was somewhere around $25 I think so if you can find it at that price grab it! Unlike many books on the subject, the techniques used in A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup are up-to-date and what makes it especially great (apart from the incredible work inside) is the step-by-step photos which perfectly illustrate how the makeup artists moved from concept to finished work. Many, many photos inside will have you questioning how on earth they created such an effect but since the book is so detailed and they have broken down the steps involved, every page becomes a learning experience. I include the book here because its one of those amazing discoveries that demonstrates the power and diversity of makeup and redefines ‘beauty’ in a realm that doesn’t need to only apply to the fashion industry. There are so many different places you can go with makeup artistry and this book should serve as an inspiration to those of you interested in pushing boundaries.

Face Forward: Kevyn Acoin

Kevyn Avoin’s follow up to Making Faces is the kind of book when you’re feeling flat and need some inspiration to get you out of your makeup artist’s block. It’s not as hands-on as his first book and won’t really guide you in learning the techniques as much. Think of it as more of an enhancement to Making Faces, and imagine Kevyn gently guiding you through the book showing you what makeup can do for you and what you can do with makeup. I often pick up Face Forward and read a few pages of Kevyn’s words; just to give me a boost for the day, and so I can feel the spirit of a man so devoted to what he did.

FabJob Guide to Become a Makeup Artist (FabJob Guides)

Ok! It’s not going to be the book you turn to in order to find out how to use airbrush makeup… but once you’ve learned a few tricks of the trade and are wondering how to go about making it as a makeup artist this is one handy guide. It is absolutely packed with information about the business side of your craft. From marketing your business to invoicing clients–even what to wear on different jobs and how to join a union! The book is an incredibly useful tool for those just starting out and who need a real-world guide about schools, potential employers, running your own business and promoting yourself. There’s so much that we overlook when starting out in the industry that I have to say FabJob Guide to Become a Makeup Artist is a must-have for all you budding makeup professionals. It’s the kind of information that will give you the confidence to go out there actually knowing what’s out there and exactly what you need and what to do in order to be successful.

And, if you are thinking of becoming a professional makeup artist… good luck! Oh and don’t forget to list your business over in our makeup artists directory!

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