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Book Review: Face Paint by Lisa Eldridge

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
You probably have all heard me say how much I adore Lisa Eldridge. She is definitely my favourite makeup artist and I really identify with her flattering enhance rather than cover philosophy. I have probably watched all of her videos at least once so when she released this beautiful book of course I had to pick it up.



I honestly really enjoyed this book; so much so that I actually read all 240 pages from cover to cover. What I was most pleasantly surprised by that this book definitely isn't a how to. She has plenty of great videos that cover every possible look and technique. Instead, this book really discussed the history and emergence of makeup and as a trained archaeologist and total history nerd I really like that. 

The book is structured thematically rather than chronologically which was an excellent choice because it makes it far more fluid and enjoyable to read. Lisa really interestingly explores that three fundamental colours of the ancient (and modern too) palette; red, white and black. Throughout these she touches on the history of makeup from various cultures including ancient Egypt, Greece, Japan, Medieval Europe and the post enlightenment distinctive styles of Venice and France. I was really impressed by the calibre of research in this section as well and it is very clear that Lisa has put a lot of work in. I have studied ancient Egyptian makeup and her research is spot on with the common and understandable misconception that ancient Egyptian kohl was made with antimony. She even had references from ancient Greek writer Xenophon and Roman writer, Ovid. If you aren't as into ancient history as me thought here are still heaps of discussion about more classic and modern uses of the key colour palette.
The book is also interspersed with biographical features that Lisa has labelled her "Makeup Muses". These ranged from the classic feline eye of Brigitte Bardot to bold structure of Nefertiti and the timeless beauty of Audrey Hepburn. They are extremely varied from all cultures, time periods and makeup styles and it was really interesting to read about all the makeup looks that have inspired Lisa over her career. 
"The Business of Beauty" goes into great details and hilarious stories about the feud between Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein and Charles "Revlon" Revson as they duked it out in the early 20th century to become the premiere world makeup retailer. The story about how Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, enemies united by their hate, referred to Charles Revson as "The Nail Man" made me laugh. Even better though was Revson who, in a childish but satisfying sort of paypack, purchased Rubinstien's Park Avenue apartment after her death just so he could redecorate it in a style he knew she would have hated. These amazing stories, folded in with a history of how the modern makeup business and technology developed to what we see today make for a really enjoyable read. 
Lisa's voice throughout the book is a joy to read and really communicates the true appeal of makeup artistry and why women choose to wear it for themselves and no one else. This really shines through in her amazing afterword where, of all the quotes she could have used, she chooses a pearl by Miss Piggy herself. Anyone who loves makeup will have been told at one point or another that "they shouldn't wear so much makeup" or that "men prefer natural beauty" so I definitely am with Miss Piggy on that one. Lisa finishes with the words that really resound for me as a smart, educated woman who also likes to play with makeup...

"Ultimately, nothing empowers a woman more than the right to a good education, and the freedom to choose whether to wear a red lip and smoky eye... or not."


I truly am in love with this book, both for its beautiful illustrations and makeup inspiration, but also for the exceptional insight it gives into the history of makeup and just how far women have come to a point where we can finally wear makeup without judgement. I've read quite a few makeup books, most of which were more how-to-guides, but this is easily a standout in its class. If you love makeup, history, Lisa Eldridge or heck, even count yourself a feminist, you will love this book. 

Stay Rosy. 
3 comments on "Book Review: Face Paint by Lisa Eldridge"
  1. Sounds so great. I am reading the Sali Hughes book right now which is great too. This shounda like a great present for a beauty nerd!

    www.fahsionandfrappes.com

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  2. Great review! I have the book and have started reading and it is so interesting. Life has just been so hectic at the moment I haven't gotten thru much yet, but it's on my coffee table along with another 8 ( yep seriously!) books I've vowed to get to throughout the Christmas holidays. Should keep me busy for a few weeks lols x
    The Beauty Bloss

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  3. Eeee I'm getting this for Christmas! I'm so excited to dig into it. I was so mesmerised by her video explaining it, it all seems SO interesting.

    Tasha // shiwashiful.

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