Wild Beauty Booklist: Awesome Beauty Books to Give (or Keep!)

Books make great gifts, and beauty books make even better gifts – at least for the makeup mavens in your life. Here is a list of some of my favorites this year. (And yes, if you buy from these links you’ll be contributing to my beauty book fund for next year!)

A list of beauty books has to start with a book of pure makeup porn – the kind of makeup you might never wear, but whose mere existence inspires you to think “maybe there’s more to makeup than just worrying about which mascara to use.” British photographer Rankin has been collaborating with some of the most talented and out-there makeup artists in the business. After the success of his collaborations with Alex Box and Ayami Nishimura, he’s teamed up with Caroline Saulnier, resulting in images which succeed at being both very dark and often very pretty at the same time. And while it’s very hard to get more info on the mysterious Saulnier, Rankin’s Hunger TV has an excellent interview with her, which I’ve included below.

Caroline Saulnier
by Rankin and Caroline Saulnier.

You can tell that Wild Beauty likes history – wanting to look good is as old as time. Gabriela Hernandez, artist and creator of the vintage-inspired Besame Cosmetics line, is obviously inspired by the past, and now she’s published a book worthy of her obsession. In Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup, Hernandez lays out the basics of cosmetic history in a visual and fun way. Timelines, stories of beauty inventions, vintage color charts, vintage advertising, and original artwork illustrate the way we wore makeup from the ancients to (almost) today.

Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup by Gabriela Hernandez.

Let’s face it, a lot of beauty “how-to” books are junk: they’re usually based on the experiences of one person, and if you’re not closely aligned with that person’s style, there’s really not much left over. But this beauty book is a motherlode: Andrea Pomerantz Lustig has spent 20 years as a beauty editor, ferreting out beauty secrets from models, actresses, and countless beauty experts. She knows how much work really goes into that “perfect blonde” hair we admire on a starlet, and whether there really is a way to emulate it without having an on-call beauty team. In How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank, she lays out the details of what can be done on a budget, and how to get maximum effect for minimum spending. She calls upon her expertise – and her expert friends – to let readers know what’s worth splurging for, and what can be done on the cheap. And she’s not stingy herself: in 224 pages, she shares a career’s worth of knowledge on beauty and style.

How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Lustig Pomeranz.

The best and most lasting beauty tips have to do with how we treat ourselves before we ever apply our makeup, but acquiring a lasting glow from inside usually involves the threat of dietary deprivation. And the most popular ‘beauty diet’ books usually lead you on with the promise that they’re ‘no-deprivation’ – until you get to the part where they tell you about the all-raw, vegan lifestyle the book’s really about. So what’s an omnivore to do? Julie Morris is a natural foods veteran, and her new Superfoods Kitchen: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods is filled with background information about superfoods most of us have never heard of, as well as mouthwatering recipes that will please both diehard foodies and their vegan friends (or vice versa). Plus, many of the recipes are illustrated with gorgeous photos, so healthy as it is, it’s still a proper gift book.

Superfoods Kitchen: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods by Julie Morris.

Looking for general style inspiration? Yeah, you could look at celebrity photos, peruse a fashion magazine, or go to the latest “it girl”s blog, but what if you want something less commercial? What if you’re wondering, “do these clothes look good on anyone besides a 20-year-old actress with her own glam squad?” Well, a woman’s sense of style can grow stronger with age, as evidenced by the chic women of Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style. Cohen roams the streets of (mostly)NYC looking for stylish and creative elders whose stories and photographs he shares on his blog. Now he’s compiled a book of the best looks, and the women he’s photographed share their secrets on living full, interesting and stylish lives well into advanced age. These are real women who dress with style and verve, live with gusto, and can inspire women of every age.

Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen.

Did I ever mention that I love Tim Walker? Yes, I think I’ve mentioned it before. Even people who don’t “get” fashion photography love the fantastical photos of Tim Walker. And my friends in film and music love his work too. This book of his latest work also goes into the stories behind some of his photos, and how he works. (Having worked on an unpublished shoot of his, I can attest: there’s way less Photoshop than you think!) If you have a friend who loves photography, fantasy, process, or just a good escape, this is the book for them.

Tim Walker: Story Teller by Tim Walker.

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