It was my senior year in high school when one of my best friends gave me the landmark Kevyn Aucoin makeup book, “Making Faces” as a gift.
That extraordinary book became my Bible.
I studied it, practiced it, on myself, and on friends, for hours.
Kevyn Aucoin’s understanding of facial structure and how to use makeup to manipulate and enhance, rather than cover, is/was groundbreaking. #RIP
After all, he’s really the father of the contour and highlight trend as we know it.
The Art of Makeup Can Be Studied:
Since then, I’ve loved studying books on makeup application and I even took some courses in college to learn stage makeup and light prosthetic application.
Moral of the story is that the art of makeup can be learned, so if you are a makeup lover and want to up your game – makeup books are a great way to do that.
These also make great (and easy) gifts for the makeup lover in your life. Know that affiliate links are used, which means I Spy receives a very small comish at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting the blog!
The Must-Have Makeup Books:
1. Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin
The book that started it all for me. I was already dabbling with makeup, but I really went down the rabbithole when I received this book as a gift.
I’ve now kept my copy of Making Faces with me for over a decade and multiple moves. It’s dog-eared and loved and I’ll keep it forever.
This is, in my opinion, the most inspiring makeup book I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.
His makeup line – released posthumously – is also incredible.
A piece of the makeup collection paired with the book would make an unforgettable gift for any true beauty addict.
2. The Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual by Bobbi Brown
Another great book, this one much more of a step-by-step tutorial for someone who wants to see the craft of makeup application broken down into bite-sized steps.
Bobbi Brown has decades of experience as a makeup artist/stylist and, of course, the creator of her own makeup and skin care line (which is fab).
In addition to tutorials, the Makeup Manual also has the “top beauty secrets only artists know, essential equipment to keep on hand, how to break into the business, and how to work with photographers and celebrities.” (source)
This is a highly rated, informative, must-have makeup book for your collection.
3. Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge
This is the quintessential makeup lover’s coffee table book. With gorgeous photography, the Story of Makeup chronicles how painting the face and body is one of the oldest global social practices.
Lisa Eldridge shares the history of the art form, beyond the last 100 years of commercial makeup that we are used to seeing, and goes back as far as the Egyptian and Classical times.
Face Paint is a historical look at how we have used makeup to represent ourselves and understand each other socially.
This book is also featured in my post on 9 beautiful coffee table books you’ll actually want to read.
4. Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin
Another phenomenal, inspiring book by late makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. Face Forward focuses on transforming well-known celebrities into iconic Hollywood and historical superstars, such as Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra.
The transformations are stunning and indicative of Aucoin’s unmatched artistry. He is also a skilled teacher and is able to break down what he is doing to manipulate faces in a way that others can reproduce.
This is another quintessential coffee table book for makeup enthusiasts and should be part of every beauty lover’s book collection.
5. Robert Jones’ Makeup Masterclass by Robert Jones
This book is the ultimate course in makeup application. With thorough explanations and lots of photos to lead the way, you could pick this up as a total beginner and be a pro in no time.
Plus, Robert Jones covers makeup for all ages, even giving specific ways that more mature makeup lovers can continue to get their best face as they age.
Robert Jones knows his stuff and has created a beauty empire, with numerous books and has worked on the faces of many celebrities. His ability to break it down in a way that anyone can learn sets him apart.
6. Jemma Kidd Make-up Masterclass: Beauty Bible of Professional Techniques and Wearable Looks
Jemma Kidd is renowned makeup artist, teacher, former model and fashion stylist, who has since opened her popular makeup school in London, written a few books, and even released her own line of products.
She is known for saying, “Most women wear makeup, yet few ever learn how to really apply it.”
But, Kidd can teach you that. With her easy way of breaking down top trends, color theory, and ways to shape your face however you want, her looks will give you that transformative quality you might be looking for.
She followed up this bestselling book with her second, also well-received:
Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets: Solutions to Every Woman’s Beauty Issues and Make-Up Dilemmas
7. Makeup Artist Face Charts by Gina M Reyna
Most artists use face charts to practice new looks. It saves time and makeup of using a real face (and also means you don’t need a model). If you’d like to get some real life practice, you’ll love this book.
You can use makeup, paint, colored pencils, whatever suits you as you work through these 48 face charts in 3 styles: almond eye, Asian and male. Practice charts and bonus charts allow you to work on isolated features and each of the charts comes with and without brows.
This interactive makeup chart book is so much fun and I wish this existed back when I was working as an artist.
8. Makeup Artist Eye Charts by Gina M. Reyna
Reyna has created a series of makeup chart books, but this is the only other one I will mention here (they’re all good, though).
Working on eye looks is a practice all its own, so this chart book dedicated to just eyes is a great way to practice.
With 138 eye charts in 6 shapes, 98 practice charts, 26 bonus charts, and pro tips and tricks, such as drawing lashes and brows, you’ll have all the practice you need to slay that makeup each day.
9. About Face: Amazing Transformations Using the Secrets of the Top Celebrity Makeup Artist by Scott Barnes
The cover of this gorgeous book will get your attention right away – with the stunning woman who needs no introduction: Jennifer Lopez.
About Face continues on this path, with page after page of real woman and celebrity transformation by celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes.
Packed with techniques, real woman transformations, recommended products, how to assess and manipulate your own facial structure, beauty rituals and more – About Face is Barnes fresh take on everything a true beauty lover should know.
Barnes followed up About Face’s success with Face to Face, another equally tantalizing makeup tutorial featuring the incomparable, Kim Kardashian, on the cover.
10. Sephora: The Ultimate Guide to Makeup, Skin, and Hair from the Beauty Authority by Melissa Schweiger
If Sephora is going to write a book – then I am going to read it.
I am absolutely obsessed with this cover – as I am with anything else that Sephora does.
This book “personally introduces the people behind some of your favorite brands and fills this gorgeous book with the beauty secrets usually reserved for insiders. Each photo-packed page brims with words of wisdom and expert advice from the creators of and authorities on more than two hundred classic and emerging beauty brands sold at Sephora, including LORAC, Smashbox, Too Faced, Dr. Perricone, Frédéric Fekkai, and many, many more.” (source)
Talk about a conversation starter.
This is so fun, I could do this all day. These are the perfect combination of my love for books and love for makeup.
Have you read any of these yet? I’d love to know your favorites.
Oh, and don’t forget to read my post on 18 Must-Have Beauty Books for the Beauty Lover – a new post with books that are not mentioned here!
Or, if you recommend one that isn’t featured here – please comment below!
Have a fabulous day,
On the 9th book it’s not Eva Longoria on the cover is Kim Kardashian.
But great job this are amazing books
Thanks so much, Raquel, glad you liked them! I’m a big fan of all of these books and the beauty books in my beauty book post. Thanks for reading!
I’ve got the facechart for makeup artists from this list first, but a friend of mine gave me The facechart book by Liza Kondrevich as a birthday present, it helped me understanding the use of face charts. It is so much better. It’s a textbook that contains a wealth of knowledge on this topic. It came with a video course as well, and I think it was groundbreaking, especially during these lockdowns. It Really helped me. I also got Kevyn Aucoin and Bobbi Browns book from your list. I think Liza’s facechart book is an addition to your list.
Yes! I love that you picked up those books and like them! I will totally check out the Lisa Kondrevich face chart book, thank you so much for the recommendation! I wrote a companion post to this with the best Beauty Books, too, which is also packed with some really great reads for skin and skin care lovers! Thanks for reading 🙂