I’m often asked by new makeup artists which books I’d recommend for them to understand more about makeup theory, or where to find makeup inspiration. I have a few books that I go back to religiously when I need a reminder of theory or when I’m low on creative buzz. I thought I’d give you an insight into my top three and put into words why these are so essential.


Face Forward, Kevyn Aucoin (published 2000)

This is a true must-have for any makeup student or professional. Yes, it’s written by one of the most influential makeup artists of our generation, the late Kevyn Aucoin, but it’s not hype, it’s the real deal. What you get is page after page of theory, illustrated by images of famous women on whom you can clearly see that exact same technique. The images are so varied, as are the techniques, so you really see a wide variety if looks and styles. Each look has detailed breakdown of how to create the look. It really is a fantastic resource, and one that I delve back into every so often to refresh my corrective makeup skills.

Makeup The Ultimate Guide, Rae Morris (published 2008)

While Face Forward shows specific techniques and how they’re used in looks, Rae Morris’ Makeup Ultimate Guide goes back to basics and builds from there. It starts with how Rae got started in makeup, and it’s an awesome story, involving a makeup artist (not Rae), a hairstylist (Rae), a supermodel and a hissy fit.

The next two chapters focus on essential kit items and skincare respectively, making it a great resource for new makeup artists. Then the book takes each area of the face and works through step by step how to make the most of that area. Even seasoned artists can use this book for reference when doing makeup on Asian eyes or the over-40’s for example. There are tips and how-to’s that cover a while range of topics. While it is not comprehensive, it is a fantastic starter book for research into makeup theory.

The Art of Male Makeup, David Horne (published 2014)

This is a makeup book with a difference. It’s not just inspirational, it is visionary. It makes you look at make makeup in a whole new way. It is more of an art book than a makeup book but the lines between art and makeup are so blurred that it doesn’t matter from which angle you’re approaching it. Here’s an excerpt from the intro to give you more of an insight into the project.

I met David and heard him speak about the origins of the book, the techniques used and how important it was for the artists on his team to almost unlearn what they knew about female makeup to allow themselves to be truly creative with the male face. It is almost the default position that when we think of creative editorial makeup looks we imagine a female model rather than a male. Are we getting too lazy in our thinking? Why not push ourselves to create something truly unique but on a male canvas? This book really gets you thinking… and sketching. You’ll be imagining looks that you want to shoot tomorrow… though we all know shoot planning takes longer than that. This book really gets the creative buzz going in your brain. It’s been a long time since a book or an image changed my outlook on makeup so profoundly.


What are the makeup book you’ve read/ seen? Are there others that you would place in your top three? As ever, hit me up on the socials.

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