Sunday, November 8, 2015

Book review - Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge

I was so excited when Lisa Eldridge announced her new book I pre-ordered in on Amazon right away. Face Paint: The Story of Makeup shipped to me a few weeks ago and I took my time reading it (as you do with books as beautiful as this one). Note: This is a spoiler free review to help you decide if this book is for you (it is!), not a summary.

As Lisa explained in this video on her YouTube channel, the concept of this book is to tell the story of makeup, from a historical, color story, and business perspective. This is consciously not a how to artistry book or an academic history, which I appreciate.

Longtime blog readers know that my day job is in finance, but you may not know that I earned my BA in History, not business or finance as you might expect. I already knew a little bit about cosmetics history and some of the trends touched upon in the book, but I was pleasantly surprised how many people and stories introduced in the book were new to me. I can't tell you how many times I had to stop reading and tell my (eternally patient) husband "did you know that..." or show him a stunning photograph from the book. The back of the book claims "read this book and you will never look at makeup the same way again" and that is not meaningless dust jacket crap, it is the absolute truth.

Lisa Eldridge is every bit as eloquent in her writing as in her videos and I hear her voice explaining to me as I read the book. She masterfully touches on art, history, commerce, trends, and science in a way that feels engaging, smart, and approachable. I have tremendous respect for the amount of research Lisa has done on this book and appreciate that she has listed her sources and photo credits for anyone who wants to look into something further. 

In terms of the quality of the book itself, I have nothing but praise. The book feels hefty, the paper feels substantial, the colors pop off the page, and the gloss coat isn't so glossy that reflections from the light make it hard to read. The binding is also quite nice - the book opens flat enough not to have any trouble viewing  the page right to the inside edges. The cover is also printed to match the dust jacket if you aren't a fan of slip covers.

It feels a bit sacrilegious to critique anything about such an excellent work, but I have a two minor criticisms to share. First, there are a few places where the page break feels jarring. I experienced moments where the page breaks in the middle of a paragraph or idea and the next page spread (or two) is a feature on a beauty icon or picture and not a continuation of the idea. It feels disjointed to go from the main text to a feature on a different topic and back. Second, in the modern artistic photographs, the page doesn't contain a descriptive annotation. The photo credit information is in the back of the book, but I found myself wondering about an image and wanting more information on the page.

The bottom line: Face Paint delivers on the hype - a masterful blend of research, narrative, and artistry. I highly recommend buying it for yourself or as a holiday gift, but spring for the physical book instead of an ebook version to get the full experience.


  1. I can't believe I didn't know about this, I'm so excited!!

    1. Awesome! If you read it, let me know what you think :)


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