Review: Makeup Is Art

Now, I’m a huge reader, and a researchaholic. I love looking for everything from textbooks, to magazines, to in-progress writing that I can edit. Lately I’ve been purchasing books with the intention of making sure that I have a firm grounding in ALL of my makeup technique, not just the ones I use regularly. I found Makeup is Art on amazon, and thought “Even if it’s bad, at least the pictures are pretty! And it DOES advertise itself as showing advanced techniques…”   It was pretty highly rated, and not too terribly expensive.  I have an easier time following things in print than on a computer, and I can’t focus through Youtube tutorials.

Sadly, it didn’t exceed my low expectations. The photography IS beautiful, but it is definitely NOT a textbook. I felt there were gaping omissions in the “Advanced” areas, though the breakdowns for skincare and variations on basic looks/techniques were nice.

For a book that seems to be targeted at freelance makeup artists, or aspiring professional artists, from the London Academy of Freelance Makeup, including chapters on designing editorial stories, designing looks for runway…. It was very haphazard.

Makeup is Art featured a number of photos of beautiful, advanced techniques(Like macro photography of lips, in dark gloss, with pigment spattered like spray paint), but did not discuss how to get them(Apply lipliner/lipstick, splatter with damp(not wet) pigment, PAT gloss over top to avoid disturbing pigment, using multiple brushes to avoid transferring any pigment that may get on the brush during the patting), what the limitations of the technique are (Instruct the model NOT to move her lips, put them together, lick them, unless instructed–you need to photograph it FAST—pigment spatters will bleed and fade within a matter of minutes. Not a technique for a costume party. If you have an airbrush gun, you can use that to splatter the pigment more realistically, but do NOT attempt to just blow it through a straw. It’s unsanitary. When splattering pigment, use a business card(easier to trim) or sheet of paper to cover other areas of skin that should be clean of splatters…)

The book didn’t cover ANY sanitation, any notes on product usages.  There were a number of instances were it advised students to be creative with products and usages, but not ONCE did it explain any of the common misunderstandings, like why non-toxic craft products or glitter are NOT cosmetic safe, why acrylic paint is NOT a good substitute for professional body-paint, why you need to be aware of your products recommended usages, why you need to purchase disposables, when to use lash glue vs. spirit gum vs. prosthetic products to glue items to the body, etc.  There was no information to help temper your creativity with good product safety and sanitation.

If you like looking at pretty pictures of makeup, enjoy!  If you need a book that covers all of the basics, that can remind you of the importance of using a good lip-liner when you are away from the computer, or encourage you to experiment with lip stain, enjoy!

Honestly, if you have time and attention, you can learn more from watching youtube artists, if you’d just like to refine your techniques for your own face.  I feel I should warn you, though—the scope of the book was ALSO fairly limited in the skin tones/ethnicity’s of models presented, and there was no discussion on common skin diseases.  So there is comparatively  little information on dealing with monolid eye shapes, Middle Eastern undertones, deep African skin, dermatological diseases or conditions(like severe Excema, allergic reactions, rashes, tattoo cover, which forms of Tinea may be contagious, and how to prevent contaminating your supplies if you are working on a model with the condition, or just trying to prevent spreading the discoloration on to other spots on your own face, etc.)

If you want a book that will help you adjust your techniques for the professional arena, or provide a THOROUGH discussion of makeup technique, this is NOT it.  It may help with reference(showing photographers examples of different period looks that would suit their concepts, or asking if they want this intensity of smoky eye, or that one.)  and it has a lot of great material if you are a hobbyist, or someone who is just widening their cosmetic love beyond the face they put on for work every day.  But it does seem to be wrongly marketed a bit. I certainly expected more than 1-3 pages of pictures and info for each discussion.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ana
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 03:15:23

    I’ve gone through Kevin Aucoin’s books and really liked them. However, I really do think that the YT tutorials are best if you want to learn ‘how to actually put on makeup’. But such books do provide inspiration and teach you some tips and tricks.


    • dolcearia
      Jul 18, 2011 @ 09:57:06

      Yeah, the pictures are quite inspiration. I just got angry that there were so many techniques in the pictures that were NOT discussed. I wouldn’t have had any objections to this book had it been marketed towards hobbyists and consumers, but it just seemed like they didn’t define their target audience well enough to sell it as a professional book OR as a mass-market book. I even went back to read other reviews, and half of them complained that the looks in it were “too out there” for daily wear, and half of them complained that it had no new material….. Unfortunately, when you define your audience too broadly, you end up creating a book that is not really useful for ANY of the demographics.

      Ah well. I keep meaning to check out the Aucoin books….The few times I’ve glanced at a bookstore, they seemed fairly pedestrian, and I figured I’d get little out of it, especially since I prefer more dramatic makeup anyways.


  2. ctkathy
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 22:10:21

    Nice review… I agree with u about youtube tutorials… They r the best that I’ve seen so far..!


    • dolcearia
      Jul 21, 2011 @ 11:07:37

      I wish I could follow them…. Unfortunately, it’s not a format I can focus on very well. I learn better from seeing pictures, and guessing how to get the end result, or seeing printed discussions on things. Ultimately, independent study has broken me from being able to learn from lectures or demonstrations without my attention wandering. Which is funny, since when I read, I focus so hard that my boyfriend can flick rubber bands at me, and unless they land on the book page, I don’t even notice he’s around…..


  3. Sarah
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 17:09:07

    Which books would you say ARE more suited for adjusting your techniques in the professional arena? I’m looking for books that discuss things such as sanitation, communicable skin diseases/conditions, working with mature skin, things beyond basic technique. If you have any recommendations for more advanced literature in this field, I’d love to hear them.


  4. dolcearia
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 07:10:54

    Kevin Aucoin’s books are great, and include in formation on advanced corrective makeup(completely changing lip lines and such), working with mature skin, etc. I also enjoy Taylor Chang-Babains books, for information on mature skin, corrective eye makeup, etc. Rae Morris has some interesting information on advanced eye techniques, as well. I haven’t really stumbled on one book that covers ALL aspects of professional makeup, though. I’m still looking for a textbook on airbrush technique…

    As far as sanitation, your best bet is looking for textbooks from aesthetics programs, and online forums. Most of the books I’ve seen have some basic notes “don’t pump the mascara wand in and out of the container, it will introduce germs and dry the mascara out faster” “scoop product out before applying it to keep it cleaner” etc. but more advanced notes are usually left to specific states licensing boards, since the requirements may vary. I’ll be the first to admit–my sanitation background comes from food service, since so many of the rules and risks are the same. I attended culinary school and worked in kitchens for years before I began polishing my makeup work. So most of the principles of a clean workspace were deeply ingrained. Add that to a LOT of research on online forums(Model Mayhem has some good links in the FAQ, on sanitation) about the best concentration of alcohol for sanitizing products, the risks associated with various types of products… I have yet to find a book that covers sanitation as thoroughly as I have through my own research. But books targeted towards aesthetics programs will have more than enough information to give you a good idea of how to protect yourself and your clients. I’ve also found the Milady dictionary of cosmetic ingredients pretty invaluable, for researching the makeup of cosmetic products, possible allergy concerns, etc.


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