Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Facepaint: The Story of Makeup, by Lisa Eldridge. Abrams Image, 2015

Famous makeup artist Lisa Eldridge brings us a history of makeup. She goes into both the chemistry (what the makeup was made of) and the sociology (how social mores influenced its use) of it to create a rounded view of makeup. It’s been around for thousands of years- the ancient Egyptians made great use of it- and, while for centuries in the western world it wasn’t considered a good thing to do, it was there, being made at home of rose petals and blackberries, flying under the radar.

The first part of the book is a look at the three basic colors of makeup: red, white, and black. Those colors have been used in every century and civilsation. She tells us how each color was obtained and how the uses changed. The rest of the book is basically about Victorian times on, because that is when beauty products came to be more widely available, and, possibly more important, when they became advertised. I’m a history and vintage fan, so I loved seeing the various styles of makeup- different eye brow shapes, different rouge placement, and different eye shadows. (Of course, looking back through the decades at the styles, I had to occasionally think “What the hell were we thinking?!?!”) I also loved that she gives the chemistry behind the products, from soot mixed with petroleum jelly to today’s modern silicones that work like magic. The history of makeup also includes the people behind the products: Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Charles Revson, Helena Rubenstein, Max Factor, and the Westmores. There are also inserts on Makeup Muses: various beauties like Monroe, Garbo, Josephine Baker, and Bardot and how they did their makeup.

One of the best parts, of course, are all the illustrations. Not just women with makeup on, but vintage ads (love those) and old packaging- I’d love to have Kigu’s Flying Saucer powder compact, with its deep blue lid covered with golden stars! The book is written in a very engaging style and was fun to read, as well as being very informative. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

This in no way influenced my review.  

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