This isn't to say that there aren't serious treasures to be found, simply that those are few and far between and that there isn't always a steady selection of new and updated works to be found on the 'New Nonfiction' shelves at your local bookstore.
There are a few books that are worth reading, as the information that they pass along can be immeasurably helpful to some that are looking for more tutelage in makeup and skincare, and they are also worth browsing for the stunning visuals and interesting facts that they provide.
The ultimate makeup books that will transcend time and space and that have a cult following are Making Faces and Face Forward, both created by the late makeup mastermind Kevyn Aucoin. Aucoin also created his own makeup line, of which I am a diehard fan. Though his expertise is widely available, his is a higher-end luxury line that doesn't skimp on quality. His line used to be carried in Sephora, but was phased out for reasons unknown. Though I lament the fact that I can't easily choose one of his items in-store and simply check out, I am grateful that I was able to see and feel his makeup while I had the chance so I knew that I would love it once I started ordering it online. Another great part about my NYC trip was being able to stop by the Kevyn Aucoin counter in Barneys to check out all of the makeup and talk with the extremely nice counter manager.
Though Aucoin's line is sold through Barneys website, when I ordered from dermstore.com a year or so ago I was given a free year's subscription to Vogue. They really know how to lure a girl to buy.
But back to the books. I've looked at my own copies so many times that the binding has cracked in both of them. I've propped them open so that I could practice the looks on friends, and just drool over the before-and-after pictures. These books are great if: you'd like to learn what each makeup product is/can be used for, the steps to achieving certain looks and for using said products, seeing celebrities transformed into other people, etc.
The first book, Making Faces, is chock-full of vibrant photos and tutorials ranging from how to use certain products to lessons in contouring to makeovers for family members to making celebrities look like other celebrities (for instance, the Marilyn picture is actually Marie Presley).
The second book, Face Forward, is similar to the first book, but there are more step-by-step, photo-accompanied instructions on how makeovers were carried out from start to finish on everyday people. The fact that Aucoin took people that didn't look like supermodels and showed how anyone could make themselves look better with just a touch of makeup, made me a believer. Too often we see products being hawked by 20-year-old poreless models or YouTube makeup tutorials performed on women with flawless complexions, that these how-tos were a great reprieve.
Bobbi Brown has several books out on the market; I believe five at last count. I like Bobbi's mentality of "less is more" when it comes to makeup and her positive reinforcement that everyone has qualities that are unique and that deserve to be played up, despite the notion that only the cookie cutter beauty found in the media is what is pretty and acceptable.
Bobbi's books, unlike Kevyn's, focus a lot on powerful statements/mantras about how girls and women shouldn't listen to beauty "rules" and how each person has his or her own look that should be treasured and not covered up. Bobbi's Teenage Beauty book gives good points, but it can be hard to understand exactly how to apply makeup as she doesn't always break things down into easy-to-follow steps with corresponding pictures. Instead, the reader must rely on intuition to understand how to enact a look that is featured in the book.
The Makeup Manual was, to me, an improvement from Teenage Beauty simply because it had more easy-to-understand application processes laid out as well as an exhaustive section on how to break into the industry of makeup artistry. Bobbi does a great job of describing her own path in becoming a makeup artist, and it gives a can-do feeling to see a makeup superstar writing about when she was a no-name beginner.
The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual was written by dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, and is a guide to learning about cause of and treatments for an assortment of common skin ailments that bother the general American public. The table of contents makes it easy to search for and locate different issues that the book addresses. Once an issue has been located, a few pages of reading will give you the lowdown on the hows, whys and whats of the skin ailment. Dr. Kunin gives informative advice that doesn't get bogged down by medical terminology, and instead gives readers pertinent information for trying to solve the issue at hand.