Monday, May 19, 2014

Non-Fiction Review: Retro Makeup by Lauren Rennells

Pages: 104
Genre: Non-Fiction, Beauty
Release Date: 25/04/2011
Publisher: HRST BOOKS
I purchased my copy from an ebay store.

Retro Makeup: Techniques for applying the Vintage Look is a history and application guide for vintage cosmetic styles. It is a companion book to Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques. It starts with a brief history on the acceptance of makeup at the beginning of the 20th century and continues to explain in detail the styles, colors and techniques for applying makeup to look like the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Included in each decade are step-by-step directions on full makeup styles inspired by famous women such as Josephine Baker in the 1920s, Jean Harlow in the 1930s, Rita Hayworth in the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, and Twiggy in the 1960s. The book also includes factual information about what defined the makeup looks of the decades based on popular culture of the time.

I decided I wanted to read this book a while ago, but none of the places I usually buy books from stocked it, so I never made the purchase. After reading about how good the sister book 'Vintage Hairstyling' was (in a post by one of my favourite retro bloggers Retro Chick) I decided to start searching for the book again and managed to find the two books in a deal on a Rockabilly Ebay Store (sorry deal has ended otherwise I would have linked it). Availability is really one of the only problems I had with the book.

One thing that really sold me on this book were the number of make-up looks. There was more than one make-up look per era and in some cases more than one make-up look per celebrity. I also appreciated that they weren't all the typical vintage make-up looks that I have seen a million times. This book included plenty 1920's and 1930's looks that I had not seen tutorials for previously. I also found that looks were based a lot around techniques and shapes rather than just colour palettes, which I felt really helped to create an authentic make-up look.

This book not only includes step-by-step make-up guides. There is historical information about the invention, use and promotion of cosmetics throughout the years. And, there are separate make-up guides regarding the use of specific make-up products, difficult techniques and the application of colour. I really liked the historical aspect of this book because there were so many interesting things that I never knew. Because of all of the extra guides and the easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions I feel that this book could suit a range of people; from a beginner to an experienced make-up artist.

This book includes a bit of a guide on how to choose a red lipstick shade for your skin tone, which will be perfect for beginners that aren't sure about what shade of red they should be wearing. There are also make-up looks to suit various skin-tones, eye-colours, hair-colours, face-shapes and eye-shapes. Not only does it allow you to learn how to achieve era-specific make-up looks, 'Retro Makeup' allows you to find and adapt looks to suit you. I also liked that most looks only include the noticeable elements, so applying things like nude eye-shadow, foundation or a brow pencil may be optional depending on the look. This means that the readers can follow the instructions, but still have the options to apply the base that they prefer (or not apply one at all).

My favourite thing about this book was that it includes a lot of really wearable and even some more casual make-up looks, which is great for vintage gals that don't want to be overly made up all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love make-up, but some make-up books really emphasize night-time looks... What's great about this though, is that it allows people who are not as daring or not as experienced with make-up to try out vintage looks. This book also shows you that you don't have to be a pro at wielding a liquid eyeliner to get the 1950's make-up look.

One other criticism I have for this book (other than availability) is that it doesn't have much of a conclusion. It's goes to the 60's and then cuts to the credits with nothing in between. Really that's just a formality though. The book didn't go into the 70's, 80's or 90's which I am actually happy about, because I don't class those years as "Vintage" and I  know that most vintage enthusiasts aren't really keen on recreating those looks.

Overall, this book is worth 5 out of 5 stars and a Favourite! I think this is one of the best vintage make-up guides I have picked up and I feel like I learn something new every time I pick it up. I especially liked all of the little did-you-knows and historical write-ups. I recommend this book to anyone who is into creating a vintage look regardless of your skin/hair/eyes or experience with make-up. This is also a great book for someone who is new to vintage as some of the looks are quite wearable. I would love to see Lauren Rennells write more beauty books, but until then I will be stalking her blog Bobby Pin Blog.

Lauren is also the author of 'Vintage Hairstyling'.

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Jessica Cangiano said...

Great review! How do I not own this book yet? I have the fab hairstyle one, but not this equally awesome makeup look filled gem yet. I must (underline that!) rectify that a whole lot sooner than later. Especially since, for better or worse, the hairstyle one doesn't apply to me much any more since becoming a full-time wig wearer in 2012 (aside from general knowledge on vintage hairstyling, that is). The makeup one on the other hand, will always serve me very well!

♥ Jessica

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

You definitely should! I have to admit a little more expensive than other books I have bought, but it's such a gem in comparison.

For ages I had trouble with that rule about wearing the right shade of red for your skintone. Because to me my skin-tone undertone is not yellow or blue it is a very pale green colour. And I could never figure out if I was yellow or blue. So I was always fretting that I was wearing the wrong shade, cos to me they all looked fine on (except for the super light pastel colours). In this book there is not just blue and yellow, but she shows suggested colours for "olive" skintones, yellow with redness and red haired beauties as well! And olive undertones can wear both. so i can relax now lol.