REVIEW: Face Paint by Lisa Eldridge

In brief: The history of makeup, from colours to the cosmetics and the companies.

The good: Very interesting with some great photographs.

The not-so-good: Some topics I wanted to know more about in more depth.

Why I chose it: Love Lisa Eldridge’s lipsticks and makeup artistry.

Year: 2015

Pages: 240

Publisher: Abrams

Rating: 9 out of 10

To those who really enjoy makeup, Lisa Eldridge is a well-known name. A highly skilled makeup artist with her own cosmetics line (the lipsticks are brilliant), she also knows a great deal about the history of makeup. In this gorgeously illustrated hardcover book, Eldridge covers the history of makeup and what things may look like in the future.

Interestingly, the book isn’t structured as you would expect with all makeup discussed chronologically or a discussion of each product. The book opens by examining three major colours in beauty – and no, pink isn’t one of them – and one isn’t used that much in current trends. Interspersed through the chapters are short biographies of women who were makeup muses, some well known (e.g., Marilyn Monroe) and some not known to me. The book then looks at the role of media in advertising makeup and the initial innovators, such as Max Factor. The companies themselves also have short biographies, from Revlon (it wasn’t a good week for them when I was reading this) to Chanel. The photographs of antique makeup (think gorgeously embellished lipstick tubes) and advertisements (some very sexist to a modern reader) really add to the narrative her. The final chapter looks at trends and what drives them nowadays, such as technology from silicone (and the clearest description of Colorstay I’ve read) to pearl powders and glitters.

All in all, the book is a fascinating (and relatively fast) read. Some subjects, such as particular companies, I would have liked more of, and others less (not really fussed about ancient makeup). But like makeup itself, that’s what makes the individual and how we can make so many different faces when there are only so many shades of pink in the spectrum.


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