Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

woman reading book

I love beauty (obvi). And I love to read (I’m a total book nerd). So you won’t need much explanation when I say that I get super-psyched about beauty books.

Yep, even though beauty blogs—like this one you’re reading right here!—are amazing at providing instant intel on the latest and greatest, there’s something about the tactile experience of sitting down and cracking open a book that makes me feel all warm ‘n fuzzy. I love knowing they’re there and that I can flip through their pages at any time for help. (See? Nerd.)

From makeup how-to’s to face mask recipes to which vitamins to take for glowing skin, I’ve found it all in my growing collection. If you happen to be literary keener like me—or if you’re just looking for some new tips—here are five of my favourite reads.  

Beauty: Pure + Simple by Kristen Ma

BeautyPureSimple Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

This book is amaze. The author is Kristen Ma, co-owner of the Toronto spa chain Pure + Simple (which also sells fantastic natural products like this sunscreen and this mineral powder). Michelle also profiled Kristen here. In this book, she gives us tons of useful information about Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old Indian system of traditional medicine, and how it relates to our health and beauty. She once suffered from acne and only until she started learning about holistic treatments and addressing the underlying causes of her symptoms did she experience relief. If you want the goods on natural beauty care, this is your book!

Buy it now: $18.77 at

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro by Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

I heart Bobbi Brown, and this beautiful book is one of my faves because it separates info into “Basics” and “Artistry” (très helpful for novices like moi). The Basics section covers loads of info, from tools, skincare and lip tips to a 10-step guide to achieving perfect makeup. There’s also an amazing skincare glossary and a section on how to choose the right foundation and blush (Eagle offenders may want to pay special attention).

Buy it now: $16.05 at

Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self by Stephanie Tourles

Organic Body Care Recipes Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed esthetician, herbalist and aromatherapist, and I’m totally obsessed with all of her fab natural recipes. Cleansers, toners, serums, body oils, bath soaks and scrubs—this book’s got it all. I received it as a Christmas present a few years ago, and since then have gone nuts whipping up my own body butters and hair rinses (and you know I love me some DIY face masks).

Buy it now: $16.57 at

Best in Beauty: An Ultimate Guide to Makeup and Skincare Techniques, Tools and Products by Riku Campo

Best in Beauty Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

This book came out last summer and I simply couldn’t resist it. The cover drew me in and the gorgeous layout and photography inside got me hooked. Riku Campo is an international makeup artist and hairstylist and divulges all the best makeup, techniques and tools—plus, he shares a fab hangover cure to keep you looking fresh the morning after (not that you or I would ever need such a thing).

Buy it now: $21.41 at

Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist’s Guide to Living Well While Living it Up by Esther Blum

Eat Dink and Be Gorgeous Required reading: Here are 5 of my favourite beauty books—you need them in your library, stat!

OMG. Who doesn’t want to “live well while living it up?!” I have so many bookmarks and dog-eared pages in this book, from sections on “eating gorgeous” to “drinking gorgeous” (for example, instead of a Cosmo, try a Pomegranate martini). There are also chapters devoted to banishing PMS and low energy, including an awesome Q&A section. This little book is indispensable!

Buy it now: $15.64 at

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.

Tell us:

Do you collect beauty books?
Have you read any of these ones?
What are the top tomes in YOUR beauty library?


Friday, October 14/2011 at 1:17 pm

I have a whole 2 shelves of beauty books (including fashion books). I have modern beauty books, natural beauty books, and I fiend for vintage beauty books. I have the Organic Body Care (seriously saving my skin, here), and a different Bobbi Brown book.

Chapters will thank you for giving me a few more books to fiend over! When I am feeling overwhelmed, I LOVE to pull one off the shelf & just sink into it for a while, or sneak little reading bites when nobody’s looking.

Only my best friend & hubby know I have these, everyone else would be shocked that I am a closet beauty addict!!


Sunday, October 16/2011 at 11:50 pm

Aren’t they the best?! I love hanging out with a book :)


Friday, October 14/2011 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for this! As a fellow beauty nerd, beauty-book-love recs are always appreciated! My personal favourite is “Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?: Top Cosmetic Scientists Answer Your Questions about the Lotions, Potions and Other Beauty Products” by Perry Romanowski. I respect Perry Romanowski a lot as a source for truthful skincare info, so I was really excited when the book came out! He’s involves with The Beauty Brains, too.


Sunday, October 16/2011 at 11:52 pm

Ooh, definitely will check that one out. (PS The answer to “can you get hooked on lip balm?” has to be YES… I apply it about 20 times a day!)


Friday, October 14/2011 at 4:53 pm

Thats so funny I have that organic body care book, I found it at a half off book store.


Sunday, October 16/2011 at 11:54 pm

Lucky you! Thanks for the reco!


Friday, October 14/2011 at 4:54 pm

Oh and if you like natural beauty recipes you should check out gorgeously green.


Saturday, October 15/2011 at 12:58 am

I love the Bobbi Brown one. She has always been an amazing beauty source; her philosophy is very down to earth. I’ll have to look into the other books.


Saturday, October 15/2011 at 1:01 pm

Let’s not forget the late, great Kevyn Aucoin. His book Making Faces was what made me want to be in the makeup and skincare industry. Bless his heart, he died too, too young :(


Sunday, October 16/2011 at 11:55 pm

Totally agree – a fab book, though I don’t own it… Probably should though!


Nomadic D
Sunday, October 16/2011 at 3:19 am

I’m a total beauty junkie but for some reason never really got into beauty books. The only one I have (and swear by) is Paula Begoun’s Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me. I know some people don’t care for her reviews, but I think it’s always pretty clear when it’s a matter of taste or a subjective opinion and when she’s backed up by all the testing she does. Any time I think about getting a new product or changing something I check her website first, and I wish I’d found her earlier, I swear, I’d have saved thousands of dollars!


Sunday, October 16/2011 at 11:57 pm

I’ve seen her book at the store but will definitely have to check out the site. I’m with ya on the spending thousands of dollars thing! Eek.


Monday, October 17/2011 at 9:14 am

YES! Agreed. Paula Begoun’s Cosmetic Cop website is a very, very good resource….having done a lot of research into skincare ingredients and the science behind their safety, I can say she is one of the only sources around on the web that consistently bases her opinions on peer-reviewed science, and bothers to cite her sources. I strongly recommend trusting her online ingredient dictionary above other shady online sources!


Monday, October 17/2011 at 12:59 pm

I recommend No More Dirty Looks; it’s a fantastic book that promotes “clean” beauty products, and chronicles all of the crap that’s in everyday cosmetics. Holy eye-opening!


Monday, October 17/2011 at 1:13 pm

You might want to read this article about the issues with that book:
The authors, unfortunately, don’t use actual research to back up their claims. Maddening!


Monday, October 17/2011 at 2:01 pm

I have that book too, and while I don’t have it on hand (lent to to a friend), I remember that they cite the research, studies & sources they use at the end of the book. They don’t claim to be scientists; they are writers, researching a subject. They refer people to their sources for more info.

Many of the arguments made in this article are addressed in the book. I just forced myself to delete a long & rambling paragraph about the validity of studies paid for by unregulated industries that want a particular result. I am not surprised that a cosmetic scientist didn’t like their work!

I highly, highly recommend this book. Read it for yourself & make up your own mind.


Monday, October 17/2011 at 2:23 pm

But he’s not a cosmetic chemist, he’s a chemist, period. And he doesn’t work for the cosmetics industry, he heads up a department at a renowned university. He isn’t affiliated in any way to a cosmetics company.

If you follow the research that is referenced in No More Dirty Looks, I think you’ll find that the scientific community as a whole disagrees with the claims they’re making…not just big companies, or little ones like mine, not just industry-sponsored studies, and not just cosmetic chemists.

If the industry has a vested interest….what do Siobahn O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt have? Is it not very seriously in their financial interest for consumers to be concerned? Consumer fear is a big industry, too, with just as much of a vested interest!

Also, cosmetics are not an unregulated industry. In need of modernization and/or better enforcement, yes.


Monday, October 17/2011 at 3:11 pm

Valid points. As I am not a scientist, I can only read the work of others & form my own opinions. Over many years of reading research & commentary from both sides (long-time beauty book & magazine junkie), I find myself landing more & more in the “clean” beauty camp.

I found my personal experiences with chemical sensitivity being dismissed. (It came out of the blue at about age 27, before that, I didn’t believe a lot of the warnings either.) I found the natural treatments that had really helped me being dismissed. I found inadequate (in my opinion) research being done before products were launched. I found companies fighting to keep toxic products on the market, in spite of FDA attempts at regulation.

I did not find No More Dirty Looks to be fear mongering. It came across to me as “here’s the other side of the story, and here are some options if you want them”.

And that I what I am suggesting it as. Another option, with research to back it (just as the industry scientists have, whether they accept it or not), for people to consider. I like to get multiple points of view, and decide for myself.

Monday, October 17/2011 at 5:08 pm

I respect that you’re seeking out information! And of course, examining many view points is the only way to form an educated opinion. Personally, I believe in simple, minimalistic skin care. It’s what I choose to use, it’s what I choose to make!

I enjoyed our discussion, thanks :)

Tuesday, October 18/2011 at 1:11 pm


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