Whether hunting for inspiration for your post-lockdown appearance or just searching for some entrancing eye candy, you’ll find what you’re looking for in these beauty books.

From a collection of backstage polaroids to a catalogue of pastel wigs, these tomes offer insight into some of the industry’s most innovative minds both past and present. 

Beauty Flash by Stéphane Marais

image from Stéphane Marais’ Beauty Flash book showing model in heavy blush and eyeshadow looking into camera

Stéphane Marais’ Beauty Flash is a classic of the beauty book genre. Difficult to find but worth the hunt, the book features Marais’ own behind-the-scenes polaroids of some of the 1990s most memorable make-up moments. Prepare to see the best faces of the Supermodel era- Linda Evangelista, Crissy Turlington, Carolyn Murphy- in the smoky eyes and blood-red lips that defined the time. 

Part documentation of technique and part charter study, Beauty Flash is an intimate portrayal of the fashion industry during its most decadent period, showcasing all the mess and glory behind creating makeup looks for the 90’s glossy editorials and over-the-top fashion shows.

All I Want to Be by Thomas de Kluyver

Image from All I Want to Be by Thomas de Kluyver showing model in smudged blue eyeshadow and messy red lipstick

If you were to analogise make-up artistry to painting, Thomas de Kluyver would be the abstract expressionist among the profession’s more line-abiding figurative artists. 

It makes sense, then, that de Kluyver is Gucci’s first global make-up ambassador, creating campaigns for the brand’s expressionistic makeup line that include smudged red lipstick and clumpy eyelashes.  

His first book, All I Want to Be, is a compelling document of our era’s ’anti-perfectionism’ take on beauty. Featuring imagery from the likes of Hailey Weir and Lea Colombo, the book emphasises that make-up is a tool of expression rather than perfection. 

Dior: the Art of Color photography by Richard Burbridge, edited by Marc Ascoli and Jerry Stafford

Image from Dior’s Art of Color showing model in yellow and white makeup

The Art of Colour explores the vibrant history of Dior cosmetics through a kaleidoscopic lens. The book is divided into twelve chapters- White, Silver, Nude, Pink, Red, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Gold, Gray, and Black- that explore the use colour with Dior Beauty’s many iconic campaigns. 

Work by some of the great masters of makeup is on display here, including Serge Lutens, Tyen, and Peter Philips, as captured through the lens of photographers like Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, and Richard Burbridge. 

Mannequins by Carlijn Jacobs

Carlijn Jacobs Mannequins with grey hair in silver dress

Carlijn Jacobs is not a makeup artist, but her first book Mannequins is a must-have for any devotee to the craft. Jacobs has produced some of the most innovative beauty photography of our era, with colourful, surrealist imagery that is evocative of Guy Bordian’s best shots but reworked for our more cosmetically-experimental time.  

Mannequins is a stylish, but probing, look at popular culture’s fetishization of beauty. Stiff-limed mannequins are styled as if they were breathing models for a series of glossy, uncanny shots. To create the looks, Jacobs worked with some of the most innovative artists in the industry, including hair stylist Sarah Jo Palmer, nail artist Sylvie Macmillan, and makeup artist Bea Sweet. 

Personas 111 by Tomihiro Kono

Tomihiro Kono’s cotton-candy coloured wigs are a sweet treat for the eyes. His book Personas 111 showcases some of his most delectable creations, from wavy platinum locks to cobalt blue mullets. 

The wigs are all modeled by photographer Cameron Lee Phan, who looks like a different character in each image. The result is a catalogue that demonstrates the particular power hair has in shaping our perception of an individual’s character. 

‘Wearing a wig also enables us an instant transformation,’ Kono writes in the book. ‘It is fun to create multiple characters that exist in ourselves – it is almost like choosing your outfit of the day from your wardrobe.’

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle: The First Twenty Years by Frédéric Malle

 The First Twenty Years with notes and pictures from the perfume

Frederic Malle forever changed the face of perfumery with the launch of Editions de Parfums in 2000. Until then, the perfume market was dominated by mass-produced, commercialized scents that were either endorsed by a celebrity or sold by a big-name fashion label. 

Malle took a different approach, commissioning the best noses in the business to create the scents of their dreams with no time, budget, or marketing constraints. Thus ’niche’ perfumery was born, a market so saturated these days it’s hard to believe it began with one person. 

To celebrate his 20th-anniversary last year, Malle launched a comprehensive book about his practice filled with behind-the-scenes photos and handwritten notes that detail the thought process behind each scent. It’s a must-have for any perfume devote.