Beauty books for experimental makeup, wellness and more

Beautify your bookshelf with these eye-catching titles covering makeup, hair, fragrance and more 

Guido Palau #HAIRTESTS beauty book
Image from Guido Palau #Hairtests beauty book,
(Image credit: courtesy of Idea Books)

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

Inge Grognard, Makeup 1989-2005 by Inge Grognard

Woman with red lips and heavy black eye liner makeup by Inge Grognard

(Image credit: Ronald Stoops)

Since beginning her career as the choice makeup artist for the Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela in the mid-1980s, Inge Grognard has cemented her status as one the industry's most prolific and innovative proponents of subversive beauty. 

Inge Grognard, Makeup 1989-2005 is a new book that charts the early days of Grognard’s career through images by Ronald Stoops (Grognard’s creative and life partner) that depict a model with a painted-on unibrow, or deliberately misapplied mascara, or blanched, monochromatic features. The resulting collection is captivating and also challenging; posing philosophical questions about our perceptions of beauty as much as they titillate our aesthetic sensibilities.

Bodybuilders by Alien 

London based drag artist photographed by Alien for book Bodybuilders

(Image credit: Alien)

In the photography book Bodybuilders, London and Milan-based artist Alien celebrates the malleability of the human form through her portraits of UK club kids and queers in drag. The book is, as its title suggests, a showcase of talented bodybuilders; but here the personalities involved transform their physical form through rigorous artistry rather than athletics. Prosthetics, make-up, and clothing make the human body as pliable as clay, capable of whatever contortions the imagination can manufacture.  

'Most of these kids in the community get noticed through social media,’ says Alien about the project. ‘Too fast and volatile sometimes. I felt the desire, and maybe a little bit the need, to photograph and represent them in a physical format, like film and the printed form, a medium that has the power to stay regardless of the algorithm.’

Lady Murk by Edward Bess

Lady Murk the new book by makeup

(Image credit:

Lady Murk, the new book by makeup entrepreneur Edward Bess, is not a typical beauty book. But then Bess has never really proffered in a typical kind of beauty with his range of products, from makeup to skincare and haircare, that encourage high drama and a somewhat maudlin aesthetic. And the word typical could certainly never be applied to the subject matter of ‘Lady Murk,’ the one and only provocateur and performer, Michèle Lamy.

The pair became friends over a share love of eyeliner (Lamy’s kohl-rimmed eyes are almost as iconic as she is) and the book is a collection of photographs Bess has taken of Lamy over the course of their various travels together. It captures moments as trivial and fascinating as Lamy drinking a bottle of Pellegrino or caught mid-conversation as she lies on couch, resulting in an interesting document from two models of iconoclastic beauty.

Colours of My Body by Lea Colombo 

Lea Colombo Colours of My Body book

(Image credit:

Although not a beauty or wellness book per se, Colours of My Body sees the celebrated photographer Lea Coloumbo explore how colour can be used to unlock spiritual energies. Coloumbo, who is best known for her colour-saturated fashion images, uses a combination of self-portraits, drawings, and collages to ‘explore our relationship with self, the balancing of masculine and feminine that are achieved in the process of individuation.’ 

Its a vibrant form self-examination that electrifies the theories behind vibrational energy, aura healing, and other forms of spiritual exploration and enough inspiring imagery that its a compelling read for those who are interested in alternative healing or those who aren’t. 

Catalouge avaible via request at

#Hairtests by Gudio Palau

Prada hairstyle shown in #Hairtests by Gudio Palau

(Image credit:

#Hairtests by Gudio Palau is a collection of iPhone photographs the famed hairstylist took behind the scenes of fashion shows for Prada, Valentino and more.

In Palau’s hands, the profile shots of fashion’s idiosyncratic beauties become cooly minimal documentations of today’s anti-perfectionist, self-expressionistic beauty standards. ‘This is a really exciting time because the boundaries of beauty have really broken down,’ says Palau. ‘Everyone is beautiful in their own way. I hope this book captures that.’

Beauty Flash by Stéphane Marais

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

(Image credit: press)

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

(Image credit:

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

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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

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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

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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.’

The Beauty of Time Travel by Ramdane Touhami

Buly 1803’s Taipei shop from the book The Beauty of Time Travel: Officine Universelle Buly and the Work of Ramdane Touhami

(Image credit:

The Beauty of Time Travel: Officine Universelle Buly and the Work of Ramdane Touhami is a brilliant 400-page book that takes readers through creative director Touhami's reinvention of the historic brand.

Touhami is known as one of the most innovative designers working in the beauty industry today, spearheading the rebrand of Cire Trudon before recalibrating the aesthetic identity of Officine Universelle Buly 1803 with Victoire de Taillac in 2014. 

Under Touhami and de Taillac’s guidance, the 19th-century pharmacy has turned into a veritable Wunderkammer of strange and dazzling products from around the world. Think volcanic stone from Sicily that is used to remove calluses, precious perfume vials from the oldest porcelain manufacturer in Japan, Brazilian Tucuma seed oil for preserving your tan, and more. 

In The Beauty of Time Travel, Touhami discusses every aspect of Buly's rebrand from his management philosophy to the typefaces he has designed for the brand.

Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.