books for makeup artists

UPDATED: Oct. 18, 2015
It's been 2 years since I wrote this post and while I never thought this post would be helpful, I am finding that a lot of people are loving it! So I am updating it with some new information and new books that I think you should get.

Today, anyone (myself included) can be a publisher and "expert" on any subject, especially beauty or makeup. While I don't always think all of this knowledge floating around the internet is a good thing, I do like the power of information. What we do with that information is up to us.

Today I am going to share with you my favorite books on makeup artistry. The list I am about to give you is a highly curated one. This list is not intended for everyday women who want to learn how to do their makeup better (but you could use this list for that too). This list is for those of you who have dreams of becoming a makeup artist but not sure where to begin.

As a young makeup artist back in the 90's, there was no such thing as Youtube. And secretly I am happy about that. Why? Because to get published back then, you had to be credible.

The knowledge I filled my brain with from these books were from beauty experts, not so called Youtube Guru's. While a lot of Youtube Guru's are great, they have no experience in the world of makeup artistry besides their own faces.

The books I am going to share with you today are masterful. Juicy. Inspiring. Full of wonderful tips and techniques that no matter how old the information is, they are the "foundation" (no pun intended) of your learning experience.

If you are looking to become a professional makeup artist like myself, read these books. These books will erase all the bad things you may have learned in today's social media filled world. They are truly an investment into your future. I hope you enjoy this post.

Note: I pay for this blog through affiliate links, so if you could be so kind, purchase off the links provided below so we can keep Glossible growing. Thank you!

Anything from Kevyn Aucoin.

In 1994, I remember going to Barnes & Noble bookstore and pre-ordering Kevyn Aucoin's book “The Art of Makeup”. It was coming out around the time of my birthday and as a young makeup artist THAT is what I wanted for Christmas.

When it finally came in, I swooned. I read the book from cover to cover inspired by the transformations. Instantly I became a fan of his work.

20 years later, I still have the hardcover of this book to this day. Although it's a little weathered and worn.

Any of Kevyn's books are a classic-must have in your beauty library. But do yourself a favor. Order the book. Don't download his books on your iPad.

Kevyn's books are best drooled over with your favorite beverage on a stormy night. The other reason? The feel and textures of holding an actual book. I don't know why, but holding something like a book in my hand while I practiced makeup looks gave me a better sense of "art". Something I can't get from my iPad.

Besides, I don't think you can actually download them now anyway. (At the time of this writing.) So good for you! Get to painting!

1. THE ART OF MAKEUP-Kevyn Aucoin

The Art of Makeup is technically not a makeup book to learn from but it IS one to own.

The best part of The Art of Makeup was his total transformation of his subjects and the introduction to who he is/was as a makeup artist.

In the days before photoshop, there was Kevyn. I imagine how meticulous he had to have been as an artist. Even I find myself getting "lazy" sometimes because I know Photoshop can fix any sins. He was genius. I like that you can still see imperfection but in a totally artistic way.

Not only did Kevyn Aucoin work with the most iconic faces in beauty, he worked with the most famous fashion photographers in the world. I don't know what's to love more. The models and actors or the photographers? I will let you decide.

If you can find the hard cover version of this book in excellent condition, grab it! As previously mentioned, The only downfall of this particular book is it's not as "educational" as the ones below.

The Art of Makeup is more or less a "showpiece". A classic book to have on your coffee table for inspiration on days you feel nothing. Maybe you can treat yourself to this at Christmas too!?

In his follow up to The Art of Makeup, Making Faces is where Kevyn really shined.

Kevyn taught us his tips and tricks and I found it very useful when I was finishing up my career at Aveda. Making Faces is a must have book for aspiring makeup artists to learn the fundamental basics of beauty.

While it was written in 1997, the steps here are still very useful today. As a matter of fact, I think they are more superior to anything we could learn on Youtube. I never knew how much I still use these techniques until I quickly read this book again a few months back while on vacation. I chuckled and thought, "how fun".

Expect to find application and techniques in this book but also a lot of ways to create a variety of looks. Here you will also find tips on highlighting and contouring. In Making Faces, I call this the Beauty Bible of serious makeup artists. If you buy nothing else, buy this one.

While still a HUGE fan of this book, it's my least favorite of the 3.

If you are new to the world of makeup, Face Forward is still a makeup book to have. Face Forward goes into a step-by-step instruction with illustrations and how to's of looks and technique similiar to what you found in Making Faces.

If you have to choose one or the other, Making Faces still gets my vote. However, this is a great one to get after you have been practicing makeup for a while. Notice the highlighting and contouring in both of those books. More on that subject later. :P

4, 5 & 6. Bobbi Brown Makeup Book Series

I had the good fortune to work with Bobbi Brown on a few occasions.

Bobbi Brown was the first person to introduce "yellow" based foundations to America. But don't let that confuse you. While this is the only thing I disagree with her on, the information in these books is crucial for most artists. Why? You learn great everyday skills with working with everyday people.

Some makeup artists dub her "Boring Bobbi" or "Bobbi Beige" (for her lack of vibrant color in her line) but the fact remains that she changed the beauty industry in more ways than one.  20 plus years later, I still think she has one of the strongest brands for classic beauty.

When it comes to mastering natural makeup, I find most makeup aspiring makeup artists struggle with this. They have 1 speed: Cake face.

As a working makeup artist, I must tell you that most makeup applications I do are very natural and geared for everyday women. To earn a living in the world of makeup, you better get to know your everyday client and you better learn to do everyday beauty. Most of the commercial work I do for catalogs and print are still very natural and a very no-makeup-makeup look. So if you are going to learn natural beauty, this is one to read.

In the day of bad YouTube and Instagram feeds, Bobbi Brown's books fill the bill for serious wanna be makeup artists.

In her Living BeautyBook-Bobbi talks about beauty over 40. I highly suggest you practice on all types of skin tones and ethnicities but also ages. Skin changes as we age and applying making to an aging face can be quite challenging to a new makeup artist. You can make your subject look older if you are not careful and learning about aging skin is something I highly suggest you master.

This book is a great one to read on what I call Ageless Beauty. Your mom will thank you.

I was completely prepared a few years back to hate this book...but I didn't. She does a great job at explaining a lot of techniques and tricks to aspiring makeup artists.

While a former fashion model, I thought what could she possibly know about being a makeup artist...well she does know and she impressed me with her knowledge of beauty & makeup. The books are so beautifully written in an easy to read and understand language. The photography is nice too.

Up until a couple of years ago, Jemma Kidd seemed to be on top of the world. She had her makeup line in Target, and from what I hear, a wonderful school in London. But in 2012 she closed the doors to never look back. Maybe she was tired of the rat race.

In any case, her books are a great read full of learning for new artists.

I know, this isn't sexy AT ALL. But the info here is great. AND you can download it to your iPad.

This was (is) the textbook to one of the largest makeup schools, Makeup Designory or MUD.

While very bare in terms of photos, the information in here is worthy. It teaches you basic skills about skin tones and application techniques from a classroom setting. A great introductory to a professional school if you choose to go this route.

Beauty Makeup is a book I like to reference when there are times I am doubting myself as a makeup artist (yes, it happens) or a particular technique or theory. You can never go wrong with having a text book like this in your library. Or your iPad.

I actually own all of Robert Jones' books, but this one I think would be the most useful to aspiring makeup artists.

The steps here are easy to follow and he actually does pretty nice beauty makeup overall.

As previously mentioned, most aspiring makeup artists will be doing makeup on friends and family to begin, so learning great techniques on your everyday clients is a must.

I couldn't get out of this post without ONE art book.

Makeup is STILL an art. While texture is the most important thing to me as a makeup artist, you can only learn about texture through practice. Color however is just important.

Learning color theory right out of the gate was one of the greatest things I ever learned from makeup artist Sonia Kashuk (and my mom, who happens to be a brilliant artist). Color theory is hard to explain but once you understand it in your head, it comes naturally to you.

Learn color theory from an art book, not a makeup book. It will carry you far and allow you to make better decisions once you understand truly how color works.

I hope you enjoyed this post on my favorite makeup books for aspiring makeup artists.

While these books won't make you a professional makeup artist overnight (only practice makes perfect) you will learn some very good fundamentals of beauty makeup.

Books for Makeup Artists

Pro makeup artist Deshawn Hatcher has launched one of the most helpful books for makeup artists on the planet. It's one of those "must have" books any new pro needs in their collection especially on the "etiquette" and "how to" guide on how to conduct yourself in a professional setting.

If you don't want to look like a real amateur on set, this is ONE MUST HAVE in every your library.
Check out her work too, it's absolutely beautiful.



I am one to fully admit that there are not many makeup artists I follow on Youtube..and while I don't get to watch her as often as I like, one I do is makeup artist Lisa Eldridge. Her style, grace and great teaching of the history of makeup is found in this book. 

The history of makeup is not only a great read but it's something all pros should know and understand. Lisa does a great job of putting this all together in a collector's item that will be gracing my coffee table. Yes, I bought the Kindle version and the hard copy version. Call me a history buff but it's seriously drool worthy.


I am not even sure HOW I left these two off the last time but, shit I did. I suck. What kind of pro am I anyway?

Way Bandy is one of the icons of the 70's and 80's and one that not many people in this new generation of makeup artists talk about which is unfortunate. This is another book that I had many moons ago but somehow it was lost in a move somewhere along the way. 

Even as old as this book is, there isn't one thing in here that could be "dated". Even if it doesn't have fancy pictures that many of the newer books have, the information is sturdy and relevant, even today. Buy this one NOW. 

Way Bandy Makeup Book Review

If you get one of these books, leave me a comment and let me know how you get on. If I have missed any you love, let me know and I will be glad to put them up! :) I have read so many sometimes I forget!

XO, Sonia