5 Beauty Books Everyone Should Read

1. Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun You don't need to read this book from cover to cover since it&#...

1. Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun

You don't need to read this book from cover to cover since it's packed with over 1000 pages of product mini reviews and it works as a fantastic reference guide for checking up on your favourite products, assessing potential purchases, and understanding how these products work. There is a substantial 78-page "introduction" including why we need to care more about the products we buy, what goes in them, and how that can affect us, along with skin care "rules to live by." The reviews are precise, upfront, and brutal; Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me can help you make confident shopping decisions based on professional advice and bare bones analysis of ingredient lists. This is a companion book to The Beauty Bible so if you're looking for a book to help pick exactly which products to buy and which ones to avoid, rather than an intense break down of the entire beauty industry, this is the one you need to read. The Beautypedia website is an online version of the book, which contains similar information including all the reviews and is regularly updated.

2. No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt

The initial 20 pages veers dangerously close to scare mongering and then evens out into more palatable reading material. What defines this book is its concern with clean products as opposed to green products, taking care to highlight the difference clearly by defining (with academic research) why certain ingredients would be best avoided and why. While there are a few pieces of questionable advice (they argue certain synthetic ingredients are irritants.. and then suggest rubbing tea tree oil on your scalp and suggest using natural oils as a substitute SPF - scary advice indeed) there are also a lot of factors that make this book well worth reading. If you're concerned with ingredients, both synthetic and "natural," in your beauty products and you want to learn more and discover alternative options, this book is the one you need to read. No More Dirty Looks offers great healthy eating advice, a list of alternative products to use, and offers up a quick reference "ingredients black list." However, take this book with a pinch of salt and don't be tempted to throw away all your beauty products until you have read the following three books.

3. Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? by Perry Romanowski

Insightful, informative, and reasonable this book dispels myths, calms fears, and provides answers. Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? is broken down into easy-to-read sections dealing with hair, skin, make-up, and the industry in general. Commonly asked questions are followed by answers provided by cosmetic scientists in a calm, informative manner. Unlike No More Dirty Looks, which was written by journalists, Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? was written by cosmetic scientists who offer unbias advice on specific brands, their products, and the ingredients they use. While nowhere near as indepth as The Beauty Bible, Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? is a great starting point for anyone interested in learning more about the industry starting with the most commonly asked questions.

4. The Beauty Bible by Paula Begoun

An incredibly informative book, The Beauty Bible covers everything you could ever dream of in regards to the beauty industry. Paula Begoun discusses how the industry works from the ingredients it uses to the studies it uses to "prove" a product works; brands, marketing, cosmeceuticals, advertising, fear mongering are all included; Begoun discusses natural vs synthetic, what those terms really mean and how they affect products; everything from hair, nails, make-up, skin care, even cosmetic surgery is covered along with solutions to common problems and myth busting. Incredible "truths" that almost everyone believes and recites religiously are dispelled, while technical terms are explained in detail with little bias. The claims in The Beauty Bible have been extensively well researched providing citations of studies and while a little dry due to the technical nature, anyone with an invested interest in beauty should read this book above all others.

5. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Possibly the most important book you could ever read on beauty; The Beauty Myth discusses the relationship between beauty, female identity, and the obsession with physical perfection that is trapping the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred. Full of huge ideas with an intense feminist manifest, The Beauty Myth makes for enlightened reading. Whether you agree with Naomi Wolf that beauty is a construct built to oppress women, everyone would benefit from having a little light thrown on the subject and new ways of thinking about the industry. While there are flaws and criticisms to be made of the writing style, it's a worthwhile read about the unattainable ideal of female beauty and how this affects our culture, our minds, and our bodies.

{ more reading suggestions }

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  1. Paula Begoun is my go to when it comes to beauty research. I have Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter on my desk and flick through it at least once a week as a reference text - I think it's way more useful and informative to listen and look to these books that you've mentioned for beauty advice - The Beauty Bible is next on my to-read list. Awesome post as always Sophie!

  2. Tamira Alison6/18/2014

    Thank you so much for this post Sophie - alongside Paula Begoun's work, I also really like the sound of The Beauty Myth - this is bang-on where my feelings about the beauty industry, and particularly marketing towards 20-35 (I mean if we're being realistic, 15-45) year old women, stem from. Fantastic, well thought-out suggestions! T xx

  3. great suggesetsions sophie! i've heard of most these books but haven't really delved in. thanks for the synopsis on all of them

    A Beautiful Zen

  4. Some of these sound great!! Thank you :) Lilly xx http://alittlelilly.blogspot.nl/

  5. I seriously need to get my hands on the Beauty Myth. And I totally agree on your words about No More Dirty Looks; I was scared out of my mind for a week after I read it--and the two weeks while I was stuck to the pages. Another good book that I'd recommend A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, which is very, very science-heavy, but also a good resource. x

  6. I think I'll have to get my hand on "No More Dirty Looks". My relationship with cosmetic ingredients has been affected by the anti-paraben fear mongering campaigns. Hopefully, this will help me make actual informed decisions. Thanks for the recommendations!
    Refined Lately

  7. Isutave Isutave6/18/2014

    Thanks for this! I am actually on the the verge to dig through my skincare to see whats good and whats not....I hope your booklist would help.......it really sounds a bit scary to find the ones you are using is actually not good for you.

  8. AWESOME BOOKS! I had to read a portion of The Beauty Myth for my gender studies class and it was pretty eye-opening!

  9. tiggles6/19/2014

    Great list! I'm reading The Beauty Myth at the moment and it's really quite excellent.

    Beauty Challenged

  10. A great list- I'm currently reading "No More Dirty Looks", lots of information!


  11. Such an important and good post.

  12. Mads | Its a Mads Mads World6/19/2014

    Great suggestions, I'm happy you gave some suggestions. I must nip out to the library now !

    Madeline | Its a Mads Mads World

  13. I would recommend The Beauty Bible above all the others :)) No More Dirty Looks focuses a bit too much on scaring rather than informing.

  14. The Beauty Bible is by far my most loved.

  15. I think The Beauty Bible would be more helpful in this instance; No More Dirty Looks makes for quite scary reading.. it is an informative book BUT completely bias.

  16. The Beauty Bible was more shocking to me, it dispels a lot of myths beauty bloggers CONSTANTLY declare as fact.. and they're not even true!

  17. I hope you enjoy reading some (or all) of them!

  18. They are well worth finding the time to read :))

  19. YES! I would recommend reading both of those, they are definitely the most important.

  20. Thank you so much Jenny. I love The Beauty Bible, I can't recommend it enough. It's helped me see through a lot of the rubbish beauty bloggers spout as "the truth." It's incredibly informative and eye opening in a way No More Dirty Looks isn't.

  21. Good to know- I'll definitely add it to my reading list :D

  22. Giean Kyle8/06/2014

    ohhh... another Naomi Wolf book... you should read her book "Vagina: A New Biography" --- it's about us women and our relationship and perception we have with our lady bits and how media and society somehow distorts our acceptance of it.

  23. Emily Leung1/01/2015

    I love to read, and non-fiction has been my favorite lately. I'll definitely be picking up "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" and "The Beauty Bible". Thanks for the great recommendations!

    Emily // ahemitsemme.blogspot.com


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