‘So why bother with a beauty book, we have the internet now?’
So many friends and customers have asked me this question, I may have even thought it to myself for a moment if I wasn’t such a book hoarder, and it’s a very understandable question. We have so much information on the internet and it’s very often free to use, however buying a beauty book or two changed my skin and only made my passion for skincare and all things beauty, truly soar.
Especially if you’re new to the shining world of skincare and self-care, these ‘beauty bibles’ are wonderful guides to navigating the best products to buy, techniques to use, and of course, the skincare secrets most of us swear by. When I first started my skincare journey, one of the biggest mistakes I made was hopping straight onto the internet. There is so much information spread around, some false and others genuinely helpful. I’ve learned that it’s far easier to purchase a few skincare books, rather than splicing bits of information from wherever you can find it, oftentimes the picture you create for yourself out of these tips makes little sense and only complicates an already product and information-saturated industry.
I’ve listed each beauty book in order of my star ratings. No guide, even if they are placed last in the line-up, is ‘worst’. Each and every one of these books I have loved reading, again and again, were well worth the money and taught me a great deal. Even so, I am here to give you my opinions and so there are always ways to improve, or perhaps things about these reads that surprised me. I, myself am always up for constructive criticism. Okay, that’s out of the way, let’s begin!
How to choose the best ‘bible’ or ‘guide’ for you
‘If you choose your author well, your book will give the best advice any book can, advice based in fact, experience and research.‘
One of these authors, Caroline Hirons is a licensed aesthetician, Dr Anjali Mahto is a leading dermatologist and Alison Young has worked within the industry for over thirty years, as well as advanced training as a beauty therapist and make-up artist. When I chose these guides, I researched the women behind them, often I had heard of them anyway, but it’s important to pick a book where you know all the advice you are being given is grounded in experience and research.
‘Look for a book that is laid out clearly, while this may seem an odd request, how a guide is structured is key for how well you interpret the information the author gives.‘
When researching your purchase, which I spend much of my time doing, I check for images of the inside of the guide, especially if you are shopping on the internet. ‘Does the guide have clear diagrams?’ ‘Are their photographs of products improving the skin?’ ‘Is the information laid out so you can clearly make sense of it?’ ‘Is the table of contents put together with tips and tricks you’d like to know about?’
All of the guides and bibles that made it into my shopping bag, real or virtual, had all the aspects I have just divulged, so when I opened their covers to read them, I felt such joy in the hours of knowledge ahead, knowing my money was well spent.
The Ultimate Skincare Bible: by Caroline Hirons.
A witty hard-back read, full of real-life anecdotes and experience, as well as structured skincare advice for all. With its glossy colour instructional photos and sections on sections of tips and advice, it’s worth every penny and a laugh out loud read too. This is the dream guide for anyone, beginners or novices, it’s been made with quality advice and binding, which is why I have awarded it 5.5 stars.
Back when I first leapt into the world of skincare and sustainable beauty, I came across Caroline Hirons. She’s quite the character, chatty, no-nonsense and ready to give the ‘right’ skincare advice here and now. I’ve spent many an hour laughing out loud at her wry humour, deafening exclamations of ‘absolutely not’ and her simple, yet effective advice. Caroline is incredibly active on her Instagram and has been known for many years for her work on her blog, which is read and enjoyed by millions.
So it makes sense that her book is just that, no-nonsense, or as she colourfully likes to say free of ‘blowing smoke up someone’s arse.’ She may have worked for hundred’s of brands and has her favourites, but she is her own woman and recommends what works, not what she’s been paid to.
In her no-nonsense guide, Caroline breaks down the sometimes terrifying and complicated world of skincare, or better yet reshapes the narrative into ‘taking care of yourself, and she’s absolutely right, that is what skincare is, not owning the latest serum or taking part in whatever the newest trend is, it’s looking after yourself and your individual skin care needs. Caroline takes you by the hand, breaking down skincare steps into a daily routine, presenting instructions on how to make your own routine, debunking skin care myths and misinformation, while presenting the products that will best suit your skin with her own reviews.
Her guide is easy to navigate with glossy instructional photos of the author herself, to guide you through skincare steps and thick colour-coded pages from the contents list, while the beauty industry can be devilishly confusing, you’ll never be lost in this no-nonsense guide, doubled over from laughing perhaps…
AUTHOR OF SKINCARE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NO-NONSENSE SKINCARE
The good author has grown up in the industry, it’s in her blood. Both her mother and grandmother worked for beauty counters like Coty and Guerlain. Caroline herself, went on to work in the same industry, starting with a small job with Aveda, and the rest is history. She qualified as a beauty therapist at the Steiner Beauty School and has worked for Space NK, Chantecaille, Clarins and Liz Earl. In 2009 she started her very own consulting business and then her renowned blog in 2010.
She’s been in the skincare and beauty industry and a great blogger for many years worked with hundreds of brands, handling thousands of faces, and is connected with cosmetic scientists, wonderful doctors and leading dermatologists worldwide. She’s wonderful at telling you how it is and what works and doesn’t with a few words..perfect!
The Beauty Insider: by Alison Young
A beautiful book, hard-back and the perfect size for on the go beauty busting. Written with care and with such a warm lovely tone, you walk away full of admiration for Alison and impressed with all the knowledge she has imparted to you. The pages are structured well and full of illustrated guides on how to apply and use beauty products and tools. I’ve given it 4.5 as I was surprised the inside was black and white rather than colour, as the outside was so stunning.
I first discovered Alison Young through Duolab and her QVC introduction to this fabulous, preservative-free skincare. Like Caroline Hirons, she’s very active on social media and her website, she’s a woman who’s always there to offer a torch of support in the bamboozling beauty world.
Alison’s Beauty Insider is a handy little guide to the world of beauty, skincare, haircare, make-up and beauty routines, it really has it all. Enclosed in its pages are structured sections with all you’d like to know, how to create a skincare routine that works for you, the best skin treatments not ‘tweakments’ and an all-around guide to feeling beautiful with some help from cosmetics, but also your mindset and some confidence.
One of my very favourite parts of the book is our author’s attitude about beauty and her handy tips on the industry. In the first pages, she asks you to write what’s great about you and reminds us to be kinder to ourselves. In this modern age, there is a huge ‘lack-of-confidence epidemic’, and it’s no wonder when the beauty industry churns out airbrushed photographs, A-listers and celebrities spend thousands of pounds on procedures and social media is full of influencers throwing around flawless and often airbrushed posts. Alison helps us to realise often flaws we see in ourselves, are over-exaggerated by our anxiety or the sheer amount of perfecting and editing, we can’t always see in the photo’s we compare ourselves with.
I myself agree, when she tells us about clients that come to her with a concern they have been worrying themselves with and when they point it out, she often doesn’t notice it. This happens to me all the time, customers approach me, talking of huge open pores or wrinkles that age them ten years, but oftentimes what looks like a horrifying flaw to you doesn’t to other people. I am very guilty of this myself! Inside the book, there is a whole section where Alison asks you to write the positives, what you like about yourself, not just appearance-wise.
AUTHOR OF THE BEAUTY INSIDER
Known as the ‘Most Powerful Woman in British Beauty’, Alison Young is the person to talk to, she’s practically a walking, talking grail of beauty. You’ve probably seen her appear on QVC, social media, radio or magazines.
She has 35 years of industry experience, as well as her own life’s experience. As a baby she had eczema, and as a young adult, she then dealt with scarring and pigmentation from her skin conditions, as well as aggressive acne. In later life, she managed her arthritis, viral thyroiditis, psoriasis and other problems which gave her a unique insight into the hair, nails, skin and body challenges of others, not only herself.
Alison is globally recognised as one of the most experienced, qualified professionals in the industry. This knowledge is based on her experience and jobs in many roles within the beauty industry and its brands.
The Skincare Bible: Your No Nonsense Guide To Great Skin, by Dr. Anjali Mahto
This bible is written by a UK-trained consultant dermatologist, equipped with years of experience and science-backed recent evidence. This puts her in one of the best positions to explain what works and doesn’t, in skincare. I found Dr Mahto’s bible a wonderful read, down to earth and kind, her style of writing makes even the more complicated skincare ideas and science, understandable to everyone. From a crash course in skincare to a guide to how our hormones and lifestyle affect our complexions, she covers all you need to know, whether you know nothing about skincare or are an expert, there is something to be learned by all. I’ve awarded this book a 4.0 for its structure, great skincare lessons, though I did feel it could have had a few illustrated guides, after all, we learn in different ways.
Before anyone comments, yes I did pick up quite a few no-nonsense guides, we don’t want any nonsense mongers here, Dr Mahto doesn’t seem too fond of them either…
As a leading dermatologist and a woman, I had read a little about, I knew I had to pick up her own skincare book. This one really is an expert guide to glowing and healthy skin. It cuts through all the madcap information floating around out there and focuses on good health and products. The good Doctor first gives a crash course in the skin, taking the elaborate science of the skin and its layers, distilling it down into what you need to know to best take care of yourself and your health, that’s what skincare really is after all.
One of the things I especially appreciated from this bible was Dr Mahto’s explanation of ‘experts’. She goes on to explain what I wish I’d known when I first began shopping for skincare products, the relationship between PR agencies, skincare companies and magazines. Exactly like Dr Mahto, I spent most of my teen years reading magazines and watching skincare ‘hacks’ online. Lots of the information we read or watch is indirectly sponsored, with companies paying for PR agencies and advertisements in magazines. This makes it difficult to know what works for lots of people or if a product is being pushed at you. Using her medical training and expertise she is able to impart proven treatments for skincare concerns, as well as explain in detail how they are affecting your skin on a cellular level.
If you think yourself, or someone you know, may have a skincare concern, none is too small then this guide is excellent at taking the concern and breaking it down. I have rosacea, I have all my life, but with Dr Mahto’s advice, I now know what ingredients to avoid, the way to properly treat my overly sensitive skin, the makeup should use diet changes and some need product recommendations.
Should I have the pleasure of meeting the doctor I’d love to thank her for her help!
AUTHOR OF THE SKINCARE BIBLE
Dr. Anja Mahto MBBCh BSc FRCP
Dr Mahto is a consultant dermatologist, with a degree in Pharmacology, as well as higher specialist training in dermatology. She is a member of the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group (BCDG), British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), Royal College of Physicians (RCP), and Royal Society of Medicine (RSM).
Her passion for skincare grew from having to deal with her own conditions, from there she set about writing her own guide on looking after your skin, especially how lifestyle can affect its conditions and health.
The good doctor currently works at Skin55 Dermatology in Harley street with a team of consultants who all specialise in different skincare concerns, treatments and procedures.
The Beauty Brief by Katie Service
A truly wonderful read, although the first thing that lured me into purchasing this guide was the illustrations. Created by Constanza Goeppinger, the linework and use of colour are exquisite, they remind me of early Henri Matisse drawings. Katie Service takes the book and sections it into beautiful bitesize pieces of information, from labels to look for, to product ingredient breakdowns. The guide is the perfect size to carry with you for learning on the go, but do be careful with its soft-back binding. I’ve given this guide a 4.5-star rating as the binding is a little delicate, however, I was impressed by its quality, in the form of thick pages and full-colour illustrations.
Now I will say this all the time, but it’s incredibly true, the beauty industry is a complicated place, full of intriguing and complex products. With the right advice and guides, you can surf with ease, around shops, online and find your own products in a jiffy. I have often found illustrations and guides are the best way to acquaint yourself with how to use a product or what to do with your face, simply put out in a few illustrations.
I have truly enjoyed reading the Beauty Brief and appreciated how the author and artist have set out its thick pages. One of my favourite parts of this guide was the effort that goes into sustainability and eco-friendly pages. In my search for beauty bibles, fewer than I’d like to see had any sections on sustainability in our beauty industry. Our author not only gives us a few brands that have the wellbeing of the planet at heart, but also some much-needed tips on how to safely dispose of plastic waste, the labels an environmentally kind product will have and the best brands to buy if you are eco-conscious.
AUTHOR OF THE BEAUTY BRIEF
Our author is the Beauty Editorial Director at Harrods, with years of experience within the beauty industry. As one who regularly buys and researches beauty products, has peels, facials, lifts and ‘tweakments’ she knows who to go to and what products will work the best for your skin. Through her years she has been a beauty editor for the Evening Standard, The Sunday Times Magazine, InStyle and ES Magazine.
Majoring in Classical Civilisation at University, Katie has a passion for the beauty of ancient times, (as well as the current trends) the Greeks especially, Aphrodite the goddess of beauty was known to be as vicious as she was beautiful, or Helen of Troy whose lovely face launched a thousand ships. Very much like myself, we both took our learning of the classics to see the beauty of the past and how it links to our future in the modern world of cosmetics.
The Korean Skincare Bible: by Lilin Yang, Leah Ganse & Sara Jiménez.
This little bible is hardback and travels friendly, so I often slip it into my bag for learning on the go. In the last few years, K-Beauty has gone from relatively unknown, to part of mainstream beauty and companies like Miin Cosmetics are behind such innovation, bringing Korean skincare and practices to the women of Europe.
From the rich and ancient history of Korean beauty practices to a host of natural and plant-based ingredients you may have never heard of, this guide gives you what need to know to begin your K-Beauty routine. I’ve awarded this bible 4.0 stars for its structured and concise information on a topic that was all but unknown, until just a few years ago. The one thing I would have loved to see more of was illustrated guides on how to apply products and beauty tools, for those of us who need a little more guidance.
The very name Miin comes from two Korean words ‘Mi’ and ‘In’, meaning beautiful woman.
Lilin Yang, Leah Ganse and Sara Jimenez are the trio of authors who not only wrote this wonderful guide but founded Miin Cosmetics after finding a gap in Asian beauty in the European market.
This little pink bible contains everything you wanted to know about Korean beauty but was afraid to ask, from its basis in ancient history to the natural ingredients, to what will work best for your skin type. It’s such a down to earth read, intent on finding the best routine’s and products for you, rather than barrels of scientific information.
One part of this book that struck me deepest, was Lilin’s description of her mother’s beauty routine. As a child she watched her mother, surrounded by a sea of products at her dressing table, this time was deeply sacred to her, a moment to care for herself and be in that moment of peace. From there Lilin was interested in beauty and cosmetics, but also the pleasure it gave to the people who bought the products.
To me this is such a key part of the beauty industry, while it has been polished as an industry that peddles insecurities to its buyers in order to make more money from their pockets, it is also a place that makes and sells products for self-care and encourages people to look after themselves. I cannot tell you the number of times I was on the edge of a panic attack or anxiety and a moment with myself and a beauty product gave me a bit of calm, grounding me. I’d really recommend you do the same, a warm bath with lavender bath oil, a moment to apply your favourite body moisturiser or spray the room with a scent that gives you peace.
After reading this book I surfed around the internet for a while trying to find out more about our trio of authoresses, unfortunately, I didn’t discover as much as I’d hoped. So when I list only Lilin as an author, it’s not because I am ignoring Sara and Leah, there is just not much about them, perhaps they value their privacy, which is very understandable in today’s day and age.
ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE KOREAN BEAUTY BIBLE
One of the trio of authors behind this little guide, is Lilin Yang, Co-Owner and CEO en MiiN Korean Cosmetics.
In 2014 Lilin moved to Madrid and found that the shops of Spain had no Korean cosmetics. To get her favourite products, she was always travelling back and forth to Asia with suitcases full of K-beauty products. Asian beauty brands, treatments and products were not available in Europe at the time and so our author decided to bring her favourite’s to Europe by starting MiiN Korean Cosmetics. She opened a store in Barcelona, followed by Madrid, Munich, Milan and Valencia.
Links and Affiliate links
I provide links to all products to create the very best reading experience, and for ease of use. I will always include a link to the mentioned product or service, as a pet peeve of mine is when writers forget to share a link to the product they have just got you excited about.
If I earn monetary compensation in the form of affiliate links, I will always make this clear.