Pretty Powerful: 25 Must-Have Beauty Books to Inspire, Empower, and Enjoy!

Even though I have a multitude of beauty-related online articles at my fingertips, I still love to curl up in bed and look at photography-heavy books for inspiration. You can’t do that with your laptop … I’ve tried. I love relaxing with fashion and beauty books, especially when they give you insight about history and the roles they’ve played in our society.

While searching for beauty books to add to my collection, I found a variety of topics from makeup techniques to ancient Egyptian skincare recipes, and I just wasn’t able to stop browsing through the options, narratives, and striking photography. Fascinated with everything from the perfect eyebrow to natural hair, freckles and facial features, not to mention the perception of beauty throughout time, I created a list of 25 must-have beauty books to inspire, empower, and enjoy!

And what’s beauty without style? Once you check out my picks below, make sure you take a look these stylish coffee table books for the fashion lover!

  • The Allure of Beauty 1 of 25

    From Marilyn Monroe to Julia Roberts, The Allure of Beauty celebrates the unforgettable faces and moments of Hollywood glamor. This book is filled with lots of sexy photography and beautiful style. It's an art exhibit in the pages of a book.

    Purchase The Allure of Beauty at Amazon for $36.69

  • Coiffure Project 2 of 25

    Can't talk about beauty without talking about hair. Natural hair, that is. I have curly hair and love a good book with images of women showing off their beautiful locks in all their natural glory. Coifurre Project is filled with beautiful portraits of natural hair on beautiful, natural people.

    Purchase Coiffure Project at Amazon for $23.69

  • Making Faces 3 of 25

    Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, who has worked with everyone from Bjork to Janet Jackson, shares his secrets and tips for basic makeup application. Making Faces includes over 200 photos and sketches, which I love!

    Purchase Making Faces at Amazon for $16.60

  • About Face 4 of 25

    Celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes breaks it down in this tell-all book About Face. From Hollywood actresses to non-celebrity women, it's packed with techniques and dramatic makeovers for everyone. The book includes step-by-step photos and commentary on each woman's look from start to finish.

    Purchase About Face at Amazon for $17.48

  • Freckles 5 of 25

    I think this book is awesome. Freckles is a photography book filled with images of women with freckles. The book itself is a work of art with a black linen cloth on the cover and gold foil stamping. It would make a great coffee table book.

    Purchase Freckles at Amazon for $180.00

  • Allure Confessions of a Beauty Editor 6 of 25

    Allure magazine editor in chief, Linda Wells, shares her skincare and whole-body tips for women of all ages. If you're looking to build a beauty book collection, this is a great start. 

    Purchase Allure: Confessions of a Beauty Editor at Amazon for $20.56

  • Pretty Powerful 7 of 25

    I just love Bobbi Brown and pretty much anything she does. Pretty Powerful is a different kind of beauty book. It's about who you are, not the way you look. It's filled with interviews of real women and celebrities who share what beauty means to them. There are also lots of tips and tricks for achieving the perfect brows and youthful skin.

    Purchase Pretty Powerful at Macy's for $24.95

  • Posing Beauty 8 of 25

    Two words: Beautiful book. Between the photography and the narratives that challenge our notions of what it means to be beautiful, this book is a must-have for any collection. The author Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is one of the nation's leading historians of African-American photography and curators of African-American culture and has put together an amazing world of breathtaking imagery.


    Posing Beauty examines everything from vintage journals to newspapers and features extraordinary women like Billie Holiday and Michelle Obama. The books features  242 duotone photographs and 40 pages of vibrant photography.

    Purchase Posing Beauty at Amazon for $33.75

  • Downtown Girls 9 of 25

    Nail art with a New York and London twist is my kind of style. Founder of London's WAH nail salons, Sharmadean Reid, shares lots of a great nail art in her book Downtown Girls. It has everything from the 5-minute nail to 3D designs. The book also includes makeup tips and ideas for staying stylish on a budget. 

    Purchase Downtown Girls at Amazon for $14.28

  • Makeup Secrets 10 of 25

    Fashion model turned makeup artist Jemma Kidd breaks down the art of makeup and shows women how they can enhance their features. This book is great for any age and has over 300 color photos.

    Purchase Make-Up Secrets at Book Depository for $24.99

  • The Eyebrow 11 of 25

    When I was younger, my mother would get so upset with me for tweezing my eyebrows (it was the '90s and the Twiggy look was back in). She would say "they frame your face." She's right! The Twiggy look wasn't ideal for my face, and I've since learned how to shape them to enhance my features. Eyebrow specialist Robyn Cosio tells you everything you've wanted to know about eyebrows, from ancient history ideas to fashion industry tips.

    Purchase The Eyebrow at Amazon for $36.88

  • Lauren Conrad Beauty 12 of 25

    If you love Lauren Conrad's style and have been following her career, then you will love this book. In Beauty, Lauren shares all she's learned from the pros and her own beauty secrets.

  • American Beauty 13 of 25

    From Solange Knowles to Jenna Lyons, American Beauty features over 100 portraits that best illustrate what it means to be a  glamorous and graceful American woman.

    Purchase American Beauty at Amazon for $46.93

  • Classic Beauty 14 of 25

    What defines beauty anyway? Its meaning has changed dramatically throughout history as well the use of cosmetics. Classic Beauty chronicles the history of makeup trends and offers an in-depth look into images of beauty from the 1920s to today. This is a great book for professional makeup artists, educators, and enthusiasts who would like to dig a little bit deeper.

    Purchase Classic Beauty at Amazon for $35.83

  • Nails, Nails, Nails 15 of 25

    More nails! Los Angeles-based stylist Madeline Poole features 25 nail art projects, which include everything from animal print to lace and glitter. You can learn techniques and see step-by-step instructions. Great book to have handy for inspiration.

    Purchase Nails, Nails, Nails at Amazon for $10.10

  • Sephora Ultimate Makeup Beauty Authority 16 of 25

    Who doesn't love Sephora? Now you can have the store at home ... well, sort of! Fashion and beauty journalist and former Sephora beauty editor, Melissa Schweiger, talks about her favorite brands and shares all of her beauty secrets for feeling gorgeous every day. The book also goes inside the creative minds of beauty industry leaders as they give you access to their private domains chapter to chapter.

    Purchase Sephora: The Ultimate Guide to Makeup, Skin, and Hair from the Beauty Authority at Amazon for $24.19

  • The Art of Makeup 17 of 25

    Here's another one from Kevyn Aucoin called the Art of Makeup. My "coming of age" was in the 90s, so I really love his work and remember following many of his tips when I was college. This book contains a collection of portraits and the amazing beauty tips that helped launch his career in fashion. You can see everyone from Grace Jones to Christie Brinkley in this book!

    Purchase The Art of Makeup at Amazon for $18.07

  • Hope In A Jar 18 of 25

    If you really want to get to the root of makeup and its societal impact, Hope in a Jar goes right into it by revealing much about our American beauty culture. Historian Kathy Peiss shares how women used makeup throughout the course of time to declare their freedom, identity, and sexual allure in our culture, in addition to shaping the industry we know today.

    Purchase Hope in Jar at Amazon for $16.63

  • Good to Great Hairstyling 19 of 25

    Let's talk about hair some more, shall we? If you like a polished look and a great cut, this is a fantastic manual to have handy. The book is divided into three parts: 1. Hair treatment and care, 2. Cuts and styling techniques, 3. How to find the right cut/style for your face structure. Whether you're a beginner or pro, this book has a bit of something for everyone who wants to look fabulous. There are also lots of step-by-step tutorials and before and after photos!

    Purchase Good to Great Hair at Amazon for $19.19

  • Beauty 20th Century 20 of 25

    From the heroines of antiquity to the goddesses of modern times, Beauty Twentieth Century is the book dedicated to the global history of beauty. This book covers the history of art, cosmetics, magazines and perfumes from different eras. This book is on my muts-have list for those nights I want to relax with a book. 

    Purchase Beauty at Amazon for $22.24 

  • Lipstick 21 of 25

    If you read my Power of Lipstick post, you'll see firsthand that many women feel transformed with one swipe of their favorite color. It really is mood changing. The book Lipstick is all about sex appeal and glamor!

    Purchase Lipstick at Amazon for $5.51

  • The Skin Type Solution 22 of 25

    All the makeup in the world isn't going to work if you don't take care of your skin. Do you know your skin type and how to take care of it properly? Dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann shares that there are actually 16 distinctly different skin types, each with a need of their own. Caring for your skin doesn't need to be complicated. Dr. Baumman shares her techniques, tips, and product suggestions for all ages.

    Purchase The Skin Type Solution at Amazon for $11.03

  • Makeup Artist Handbook 23 of 25

    Need to take pictures? Want professional tips and techniques by Hollywood makeup artists? Try the Makeup Artist Handbook. Acclaimed film and TV makeup artists Gretchen Davis and Mindy Hall share the fundamentals for makeup application while talking about beauty, makeup effects, lighting, and tips for working effectively in HD.

    Purchase Make-Up Artist Handbook at Amazon for $38.00

  • Passport to Beauty 24 of 25

    I'm fascinated by the ideas of beauty from all over the world. Growing up in NYC has given me a unique perspective on the beauty of diversity and the various cultural perceptions of what it means to be beautiful. Every country has their own age-old beauty secrets, and this book is a fun peek into some of them! From Europe to Asia to Africa, Passport to Beauty offers great insight and tips for luxurious hair, glowing skin, and more!

    Purchase Passport to Beauty at Barnes and Noble for $13.63 

  • Iman The Beauty of Color 25 of 25

    I added this book because I just love Iman. She's so beautiful, I would take any advice she gave. Her makeup line is designed for women of color, and that includes African American, Hispanic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian ethnicities and more. The Beauty of Color covers everything from skincare to makeovers.

    Purchase The Beauty of Color at Barnes and Noble for $17.57

Article Posted 3 years Ago

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