26 Best Books For The Beauty Lover Who Wants To Know It All

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Beauty books are a source of creativity and inspiration ranging from step-by-step guides to photography-filled coffee table books that can be described as eye candy. The books on this list have shiny covers, but don't let this touch of modernity fool you: The history of beauty books dates back to Ancient Egypt where tips and tricks for skincare, makeup, and haircare were recorded in hieroglyphics. From there, manuals for cosmetics and treatments started to appear in greater numbers, and by the 20th century, beauty books became an essential way to learn about the techniques, products, and trends in the industry.


Sharing beauty secrets is nothing new, and many comprehensive approaches to niche beauty topics are available. Today, beauty books have evolved to match the ever-changing beauty trends. From wellness to mental health to critical analysis of the beauty industrial complex, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from beauty books. Below are 26 must-read beauty books that will serve to inspire and empower.

The Beauty Myth

If the name Naomi Wolf sounds familiar, it's because Wolf is a best-selling American author made internationally famous by her 1991 feminist classic, "The Beauty Myth." Any beauty book list would be incomplete without this hard-hitting masterpiece. "The Beauty Myth" catapulted the feminist scholar into the mainstream, as people were hungry for a more academic look at the intersection of beauty and capitalism. Having studied at Yale and Oxford, Wolf writes about beauty in a deeply profound way as she explores equality and power dynamics.


Challenging myths about beauty and gender binaries, the book explains the damaging impacts of unrealistic beauty standards and boldly calls out the advertising and pornography industries for exacerbating impossible-to-achieve beauty ideals. When discussing self-esteem in the book, Wolf writes, "To live in a culture in which women are routinely naked where men aren't is to learn inequality in little ways all day long." If you want to learn more about beauty through a feminist lens, this book is for you.

The Skincare Bible

The beauty and personal care market is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow each year. From personal grooming to fragrance to skincare, product lines continue to grow with the demand. Luckily, dermatologist Anjali Mahto has written the official "Skincare Bible" to help readers understand the science behind the skincare industry. Experiencing acne and other skin conditions in her youth, Mahto became passionate about helping people solve their skin problems.


Since its release, the book has been translated into seven languages, as readers love the practical advice. In an interview with Elle India, Mahto says she wants women to stop believing harmful skincare myths particularly. "For the majority of women with acne, the cause is largely down to hormones and genetics but the beauty industry often lets us believe we just need a new face wash or toner!" This is a great book to grab if you want to learn more about taking care of your skin.

Hair: Guido

"Hair: Guido" is a stunningly beautiful book written by one of the most respected and sought-after hairstylists in the fashion industry who is known for his innovative and creative hairstyles. A showcase of Guido Palau's incredible talent and creativity, "Hair: Guido" provides an insider's perspective of the intersection of art, fashion, and hair. With a focus on the hair industry's place within the high fashion world, the book provides unique insights into the world of creative collaborations.


The book is visually appealing, serving as both a look-book and textbook on the craft. From chic next-season looks to avante-garde creations, Palau proves to his fans why he is the most prolific stylist of all time. The book is peppered with gorgeous photographs of Palau's work, from his early days as a hairdresser in London to his most recent runway shows for designers including Prada and Alexander McQueen. Accompanied by commentary on his work with celebrities, the book showcases the evolution of his creative process.

The Body Liberation Project

Feeling good in your own skin is difficult, as beauty standards are constantly shifting, but one constant over the last few decades has been diet culture. In her book, "The Body Liberation Project: How Understanding Racism and Diet Culture Helps Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom," author Chrissy King discusses the ways in which diet culture has made people who do not adhere to a very Eurocentric standard of beauty feel unworthy.


King challenges readers to discover their worth by analyzing the reality that bodies change over time and the acknowledgement that worth is not measured by external praise but by the simple act of existing. Katie Couric Media praises the book, saying, "If you're ready to free yourself from the impossible standards, pick up a copy of King's book, which traces the history of fat discrimination and how it intersects with other forms of oppression."

The Secret of Chanel No. 5

"The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume" by Tilar Mazzeo is the story of how Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as "Coco" Chanel, became one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry. This informative book takes readers on a journey of the history of perfume-making and how Chanel No. 5 revolutionized the art of scent. Throughout the book, Mazzeo weaves together anecdotes and technical details backdropped against rare photos and illustrations. The book is perfect for lovers of fashion, perfume, marketing, and beauty trends. Of the book, The New York Times Book Review says, "[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy."


Some of the most interesting sections are Mazzeo's discussions of the role of celebrity endorsement in brand success. This includes the impact of Marilyn Monroe, which helped cement the perfume's place in popular culture. This read is perfect for beauty lovers who value the cultural significance of Chanel No. 5, its enduring legacy, and its ongoing place in the cultural zeitgeist.

Eat Beautiful

"Eat Beautiful" is a fun cookbook written by beauty expert and international makeup artist Wendy Rowe. For years, Rowe has grown her faithful following due to her holistic approach to health which she shares with her fans through her website and YouTube channel. Published in 2016, the book is filled with recipes that promote skin health, encouraging slow beauty from the inside out. This hybrid cookbook/beauty guide is split into four seasons to reflect the food patterns and seasonal offerings of each.


The picturesque "Eat Beautiful" book contains 70 recipes that aim to keep your skin glowing all year and even features recipes for homemade beauty products such as masks, scrubs, and toners. On her website, Rowe says, "...learning how to achieve great skin has become a big part of my life. This book allows me to share this knowledge with you in a way that's simple and gorgeous and easy to make part of your [every day], with a few laughs along the way." If you are looking for a hands-on approach to glowing and radiant skin, add this book to your TRB list.

The Wellness Trap

Many books are filled with advice on diet, exercise, and wellness trends, but how do you know what to read when you want to understand the industry itself? "The Wellness Trap: Break Free from Diet Culture, Disinformation, and Dubious Diagnoses, and Find Your True Well-Being" by Christy Harrison digs into the culture of wellness marketing, misinformation, and broken promises that the industry continues to expunge. Harrison delves deep into topics such as cultural appropriation, mental health, and social media algorithms, discussing how there needs to be a critical lens placed on an industry that often promotes unattainable standards.


Harrison's unique background in health and journalism makes this nonfiction book part memoir, part journalistic reporting, and part self-help book, striving to answer the questions you have never even thought to ask. A Kirkus Review praises the book, saying, "Harrison, a dietician, journalist, and author of 'Anti-Diet,' mounts a persuasive critique of the multitrillion-dollar wellness industry ... Most empathically, she urges us to think critically about the wellness industry's claims."

The Skinny Confidential's Get the F*** Out of the Sun

Sunbathing has been a popular pastime for decades, but the harsh reality of sun exposure has made spending the day outside without SFP an unwise decision. What is the best way to get skin-kissed skin without being exposed to harmful UV rays? The answer to this and a laundry list of skin beauty questions are answered in the playful book "Get the F*** Out of the Sun" by lifestyle guru Lauryn Evarts Bosstick. This colorful book gives readers insight into Bosstick's personal experiences with beauty products, tools, and procedures.


Jam-packed with skincare advice from top influencers, such as Kristin Cavallari, Bobbi Brown, Patrick Starrr, and Aimee Son, and tips and tricks from skincare doctors, including Dennis Gross, Jason Diamond, and Barbara Sturm, this book is perfect for those who want the inside scoop from those who have "tried everything!" As fun as the book is, the underlying message is important: Preventative skincare is not only about fighting the effects of aging but also protecting oneself from environmental harms.

Making Faces

Everyone remembers when the Kardashians took contouring mainstream, but you might not know that Kevyn Aucoin was the makeup artist, or MUA, who pioneered the trend. Aucoin's influence on the beauty world is unprecedented, as he was the only makeup artist to win a CFDA Award and has worked with some of the most famous faces in Hollywood. Painting faces of some of the most influential women in the world, including Kate Moss and Julia Roberts, he dominated the '90s with his creativity and passion for beauty. More than just being a tour de force in the beauty space, Aucoin was also an advocate for human rights, spending his free time volunteering at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a program centered on supporting LGBTQ+ youth.


"Making Faces" celebrates the transformative power of makeup as a way of expressing individuality and enhancing natural beauty. By showcasing a diverse range of makeup styles and techniques, the book is a makeup bible that gives readers step-by-step instructions for professional MUAs and DIY beauty gurus. Unfortunately, Aucoin died in 2002, but his legacy lives on.


Funmi Fetto, beauty editor, columnist, and contributing editor of British Vogue, has learned a lot over the years, but her experience came with a difficult realization — the lack of diversity in the beauty industry. After years of being the go-to beauty guru for products suitable for women of color, Fetto decided to put her encyclopedic knowledge together into a curated guide with over 200 hair, skin, and makeup products for melanated beauties. "Palette: The Beauty Bible for Women of Colour" is organized into sections, educating readers on the products that will work best for them in an arena that has often been exclusionary.


This beautiful book is about diversity and representation, providing a reminder that all women need to be part of the beauty conversation to empower the next generation of women. Discussing the book with Melan Magazine, Fetto says, "I feel strongly about the message of the book – to speak to the beauty industry at large about the lack of inclusivity and representation of Black women. And it needs to go beyond the shades of our foundation."

The Body Is Not an Apology

Beauty books come in all shapes and sizes, and this work of nonfiction's powerful message about self-love makes it a must-have on our list of beauty books. "The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love" by Sonya Renee Taylor is a book that advocates for radical self-love as a way of challenging the narrow beauty ideals that have excluded many individuals from believing they are truly beautiful. Taylor's message is to radiate beauty from within with such a high vibrational frequency that it not only shatters the glass ceiling but also resonates with others.


Taylor, the author of seven books, is an activist and cultural leader who has an impressive resume filled with awards, recognitions, and achievements based on her intersectional work. In the book, Taylor writes, "Radical self-love demands that we see ourselves and others in the fullness of our complexities and intersections and that we work to create space for those intersections." Her words push readers to examine their relationships with their own bodies, encouraging them to feel empowered.

The Beauty of Color

You might know Iman Abdulmajid from her impressive career as a supermodel serving looks on the runway or through the lenses of iconic photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Helmut Newton. Born in Mogadishu and rising to international fame as simply "Iman," the proud refugee has always stood for inclusion.


Before the evolution of inclusive beauty brands including Fenty Beauty, in the early '90s, Iman Cosmetics served to fill the gap in the market for women of color. Her range of makeup products was one of the first to expand shade ranges to accommodate BIPOC customers who were largely ignored by the big cosmetic brands of the time. "The Beauty of Color" by Iman is a stunning, must-have book for beauty lovers. Featuring celebrity photographs and advice from Iman herself, "The Beauty of Color" celebrates diversity in an informative way by showing how makeup can be fun, transformational, and empowering.

Ageless Beauty the French Way

The issue of aging has always been part of the beauty conversation, with standards changing and boundaries being broken by trailblazers who challenge dominant narratives of beauty. The book "Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from Three Generations of French Beauty Editors" by Clémence von Mueffling offers advice on anti-aging techniques and products, as well as tips for healthy living. Written by three generations of beauty experts, the book is filled with beauty secrets on the best products and practices to encourage readers to embrace their natural beauty.


Released in 2018, the book has received wide acclaim from those in the industry and beyond. Aerin Lauder, the style and image director of famed beauty brand Estée Lauder, says, "It is no surprise that Clémence has such wonderful style and beauty knowledge as a third-generation beauty icon. Her book is a magical guide, with expert advice in three categories 'Jeunesse,' 'Plénitude' and 'Maturité' so women of all ages will feel it was specifically tailored to them." Filled with lessons, from double-cleansing to perfume matching, "Ageless Beauty the French Way" is a great book for beauty lovers of all ages.

The Atlas of Beauty

Published in 2017, "The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits" is a collection of photographs and stories from women from around the globe. Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc has traveled the world with her camera on a mission to capture images of beautiful women in their native environments. One part photojournalism and one part social justice, this incredible book artistically proves there is no such thing as a universal beauty standard.


Noroc's goal has been to show another side to beauty than what is normally represented in the mainstream media. The incredible photography will leave you in awe, but the stories woven throughout will tug at your heartstrings. On the website dedicated to the book and wider "Atlas of Beauty" project, Noroc describes her beautiful book by saying, "Real beauty is not about how we look, but about all the qualities that make us good human beings." Beauty lovers will be glad to pick up this book and take a trip around the world through 500 photographs.

The World According to Wonder

If you are obsessed with drag queen beauty and can't wait for the next season of "Drag Race" to drop, "The World According to Wonder" by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato is perfect for you. Co-written by the award-winning filmmakers, this beautiful book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into the world of drag and the intersection of beauty, art, fashion, and pop culture. 


With 11 chapters spanning 390 pages, "The World According to Wonder" is a celebration of 21 years of production. It includes photos, anecdotes, beauty tips, advice from drag queens, and interviews with stars such as Lady Bunny, RuPaul Charles, Pamela Anderson, and more. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, executive director Jenn Kuzmyk says, "It's just impossible to quantify the good that Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have put into the world via the legendary global juggernaut that is 'Drag Race'..." The book gives beauty lovers a greater appreciation for the transformative power of makeup and its power to help express individuality and push boundaries.


No beauty routine is complete without a splash of perfume, so this book is perfect for those passionate about fragrance. Whether you are an expert or new to the industry, "Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent" is a comprehensive guide to choosing and wearing perfume. Filled with beautiful photographs and illustrations, author Neil Chapman delves into the science of fragrance, explaining the different types of scents, the intricacy of selecting a signature scent, and how scents interact with our sense of smell. Readers are taken on a journey of how to find the perfect perfume for their personality, skin type, and lifestyle.


Chapman explores the history of perfume all the way from its origins in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the modern fragrance industry. Delving into different subtopics, from the science of fragrance to the role of fragrance in our lives, Chapman writes in an approachable, unpretentious, way. The book is light and fun, and the author's passion is clearly evident with each turn of the page.

Love Yourself Well

"Love Yourself Well: An Empowering Wellness Guide to Supporting Your Gut, Brain, and Vagina" by former reality TV star, socialite, and entrepreneur Lo Bosworth is a comprehensive beauty and wellness guide that focuses on supporting the gut-brain-vagina connection. Taking a holistic approach to wellness, Bosworth writes in a way that is refreshing and empowering, encouraging readers to take a more comprehensive approach to their health by placing self-love and self-care at the heart of her mission.


Bosworth is most widely known for her role on the MTV reality show "Laguna Beach" and its spinoff series, "The Hills," alongside millennial icons including Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari, Heidi Montag, and Spencer Pratt. Bosworth fills the book with anecdotes, practical tips, advice, and insights based on her own personal struggles with physical and mental health issues. This book makes you feel as if you are part of Bosworth's inner circle, learning about her health struggles in a candid way. "Love Yourself Well" covers a wide range of subtopics, from stress management to sexual health.

Branded Beauty

British author, journalist, and advertising expert Mark Tungate's new book, "Branded Beauty: How Marketing Changed the Way We Look," explores beauty and beauty standards through the lens of the advertising industry. Having already published several books on the topic, Tungate raises important questions about advertising, branding, and cultural ideals of beauty and whether they are real or simply illusions.


Tungate encourages readers to promote more positive and inclusive representation in the beauty industry. His latest book echoes what writers before him have revealed, but it goes deeper into the ways beauty marketing has perpetuated unrealistic beauty standards and how beauty products have been used throughout history as tools of social control, disordered eating, and body shaming. The best part is the wide range of topics, which gives beauty lovers a look into niche topics such as masculine beauty, cosmetic surgery, sustainable beauty, and, ultimately, the true price of beauty in a world that often idealizes impossible standards.

Hair: Fashion and Fantasy

For over 20 years, Laurent Philippon has collaborated with high-profile celebrities and designers, including Lady Gaga, Natalie Portman, Marc Jacobs, and Chanel. Born in France, Philippon began his career in Paris in the 1990s working in top salons. Today, when the artist is not working on brand campaigns or with celebrities, he teaches hairstyling and editorial techniques at the prestigious Aveda Institute in New York. His second book, "Hair: Fashion and Fantasy," published in 2019, is a stunning visual exploration of the world of hair and hairstyling.


Filled with breathtaking photography, the book features over 200 photographs of hairstyles captured by photographer Babak. Exquisitely detailed, each page highlights the intricacies of each hairstyle and captures the artistry of the stylists who created them. Beyond the photography, "Hair: Fashion and Fantasy" gives readers a sneak peek into the creative process behind the inspirations and techniques of some of the most talented stylists in the industry.

Color Stories

"Color Stories: Behind the Scenes of America's Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry" by Mary Lisa Gavenas is a fascinating look at the world of beauty. The book is divided by industry, giving readers bite-sized pieces of information that delve into how beauty brands and influencer culture continue to grow this recession-proof industry. If you are fascinated with the world of makeup and beauty launches, you won't be able to put this book down.


Gavenas is an author and cultural commentator who has worked as a consultant and lecturer in the fashion and beauty industries, focusing on the intersections of beauty and business. Mixing research, anecdotes, and insider exclusives to explore the history and the business of the American beauty industry, "Color Stories" highlights the key moments that helped iconic brands become larger than life and analyzes the way Revlon, Estée Lauder, and L'Oréal's rise to prominence in the industry has shaped the beauty landscape we know today.

Marco Antonio X Rankin

Photographer Rankin and makeup artist Marco Antonio released "Marco Antonio X Rankin" in 2019. Since then, the book has become a staple of coffee tables and bookshelves of those in the industry — to say this book is a visual journey is an understatement, as each page offers more creativity and diversity than seemingly possible. A self-declared exploration of black and brown bodies, this unique collaboration showcases thought-provoking images that bend societal norms, ignore traditional beauty standards, and highlight the majesty of human diversity.


The photography in "Marco Antonio X Rankin" catches the eye with bold colors and dynamic style choices, making each photograph its own piece de resistance. Mixed among the eye candy are narratives from the two professionals about their social justice advocacy work and push for inclusivity in the industry. "Marco Antonio X Rankin" is a must for anyone looking to engage with art and social justice in a new and exciting way.

The Nature of Beauty

"The Nature of Beauty: Organic Skincare, Botanical Beauty Rituals and Clean Cosmetics" is an insightful guide to natural beauty by well-known beauty expert Imelda Burke. The founder of Content Beauty & Wellbeing, a London-based store that curates beauty products, with more than 10 years of experience, Burke is widely recognized as an authority in the clean beauty world. This book furthers her work in the field by giving fans expert insight. It's written in an approachable way, making it a great first step for those looking to transition to natural beauty.


The lifestyle guru focuses on products that are not only good for the body but also for the plant, sharing with readers her holistic approach to beauty. The book is divided into three main sections: skincare, beauty rituals, and clean cosmetics. The best part of the book might be the section on botanical beauty rituals, which includes instructions on how to select the bests oils, flowers, and herbs to keep you glowing from the inside out!

Radical Radiance

The term "manifest" is stigmatized, but give this book a try before you give up on manifesting your future through self-care. "Radical Radiance: 12 Weeks of Self-Love Rituals to Manifest Abundance, Beauty, and Joy" by Angela Jia Kim is more practical than punchy, guiding readers toward self-love and joy with a 12-week plan. Readers can practice the self-care rituals, organized by theme, to help them connect more positively with their bodies.


This is the first book by Kim, the New York-based CEO of Savor Beauty, who knows the industry inside out and has stripped away the pomp and circumstance to present possibilities to integrate lifestyle changes into even the busiest of schedules. Touching on topics from meditation to healthy eating, the book is both interesting and visually appealing, showing how overall well-being needs to be at the forefront of our minds — a switch from a passive to a more active culture of self-care.

High Vibrational Beauty

Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima Morisse, the co-founders of CAP Beauty, have authored "High Vibrational Beauty: Recipes & Rituals for Radical Self Care," a book which offers a holistic approach to beauty, incorporating nutrition, mindfulness, and self-care. Organized in three parts — Beauty, Rituals, and Kitchen — the writers share their favorite products and give insider tips, recipes, and practical advice mixed with amazing photography. This book is quirky and fun, making it an ideal conversation starter on your bookshelf or a refreshing take on wellness advice that supports living a more grounded lifestyle. 


Some of the book's most interesting topics include aromatherapy, crystal healing, and meditation. This book is a good choice for both those who have a wide range of knowledge and those just stepping into the world of radical self-care. The mix of recipes, rituals, stories, and photography makes it feel personal and relevant.


With "Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair," University of London Anthropology Professor Emma Tarlo has written an insightful look into the global trade in human hair. It explores an industry which often shapeshifts from underground to the black market and is rarely acknowledged in the same way as other beauty sectors. The use of hair for a myriad of things, from wigs to extensions to protein, is also explored in this beautiful book.


"Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair" gives readers the story of hair from its origins, weaving a nonfiction narrative through both time and space that shows just how important the economics and politics of hair still are today. Broken up into three sections, this book highlights the sometimes not-so-beautiful parts of the beauty industry, which are rooted in exploitation. Providing interesting accounts of the nefarious practices that still push Eurocentric beauty standards and allow cultural appropriation and racism to go unchecked, Tarlo writes to both inform and call for action.

Beauty Sick

In "Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women," Renee Engeln, a professor at Northwestern University and a leading researcher on the impact of gender and culture on body image, beauty ideals, and the health and well-being of women, explores the cultural impact of beauty on women's lives. Having to exist within such a defined and arguably narrow definition of beauty, she explicitly explains how beauty standards are not only impossible but inhumane and brings readers through her research on the topic, arguing that society's obsession with appearance has had deadly consequences for girls and women.


"Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women" discusses the links between beauty and both mental and physical health outcomes, which continue to manifest themselves as anxiety and disordered eating. The book is suitable for anyone interested in understanding the time and money that backs this billion-dollar industry and the reasons these ideal beauty standards will forever be just that: ideal and out of reach.