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Books Every Media Makeup Artist Should Read

There are tons of books on makeup artistry and, of course, some are more helpful than others. So, to help narrow it down, we have put together a shortlist of the best books we think every media makeup artist should read. These books offer essential guidance, build an understanding of the basics and inspire creativity. They are the books we’ve turned to again and again!

Making Faces – Kevyn Aucoin

Kevyn Aucoin best makeup artist books
  • Kevyn Aucoin’s makeup talent is showcased in this book.
  • It starts with the basic guides. For example, contouring, creating eye and lip looks, skincare and using foundation are all discussed.
  • A series of famous faces are given a glamorous, natural or retro makeover. Each look also has an illustrated how-to guide.
  • This book shows what can be achieved with everyday makeup. The makeups are flawless and stunning. This is why we like it – for inspiration, rather than as a makeup manual.
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Makeup Basics

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual – Bobbi Brown

  • This book is a complete guide on everyday makeup – useful for the makeup lover, beginner and pro alike. 
  • It covers skincare and every aspect of makeup application for all skin tones and skin types.
  • Each element of facial makeup has step-by-step instructions with glossy pictures, making it very easy to follow.
  • It also includes helpful information on things like picking colours, contouring and shaping.
  • We think this is the most complete all-round makeup manual.
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Media Makeup

The Face Is A Canvas: The Design And Technique Of Theatrical Makeup – Irene Corey

Irene Corey best makeup artist books
  • A large book with 300 pages of in-depth information on everything needed to create makeup for theatre. 
  • It includes all the essentials, like choosing products, understanding light and form, using contouring and colour theory
  • There are lots of makeup charts for creating vintage makeup looks, characters, animals and ageing.
  • It is one of the best makeup artist books for theory and the best relating to the theatre.
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The Makeup Artist Handbook: Techniques For Film, Television, Photography, And Theatre – Gretchen Davis & Mindy Hall

The Makeup Artist Handbook
  • This book covers everything the media makeup artist should know, making it excellent for beginners and a good reference for pros.
  • It has detailed chapters on shapes, anatomy, colour theory, technology, and lighting. Also looks at working as a professional artist.
  • There are step-by-step instructions on different makeup applications.
  • An excellent guide to working as a media makeup artist.
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Period Makeup

Fashions In Makeup: From Ancient To Modern Times -Richard Corson

  • This book is not an instructional makeup guide. It is a weighty tome – a mighty reference book on makeup through the ages.
  • It gives an in-depth and well-researched account of makeup trends, ingredients, application methods, and packaging used during each era.
  • As well as being highly informative on the fashion of the day, it gives insights into society’s attitude on makeup at that time.
  • Has a few illustrations, but this book is not big on photos – it’s only downfall.
  • An excellent resource when researching authentic makeup looks from any era.
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Special Effects Makeup

A Complete Guide To Special Effects Makeup – Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop

Tokyo SFX best makeup artist books
  • There are currently three books by the Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop, with each one covering a slightly different topic.
  • The books look at various SFX creations, from simple scars and wounds to more complicated masks and creatures.
  • Step-by-step guides are accompanied with glossy pictures.
  • If you are interested in creating fantasy creatures, as well as general SFX, you may find this series of books perks up your creativity!
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Special Effects Makeup For Stage & Screen: Making And Applying Prosthetics – Todd Debreceni

SFX makeup book
  • This book covers all the basics for working in special effects makeup and prosthetics.
  • For example, it has informative guides and illustrative photographs on lifecasting, sculpting and mould making.
  • It also looks at the basic elements a makeup artist should know. For example, skincare, taking care of kit and human anatomy are discussed. In a word, working in SFX is not just about playing with bits of rubber – there are also many essential supporting skills needed.
  • The information is thorough and well presented with pictures. It is an excellent guide for anyone wanting to work in SFX makeup.
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So that’s our favourites – the best makeup artist books in a nutshell! Hopefully, you will find them just as useful. Let us know in the comments if you have a personal favourite or recommendation.

Find Out More

  • Daniela Turudich did a series of books on vintage hair and makeup. They can be quite hard to find and expensive (especially as they are quite small books). However, they are an interesting resource if you like learning about authentic vintage styling.

Thumbnail photograph – courtesy of Kimberly Farmer (

4 thoughts on “Books Every Media Makeup Artist Should Read”

  1. Kevyn’s book is my favorite and a nee one, The Facechart Book by Liza Kondrevich is a game-changer to me although it’s niche and doesn’t teach any skin appliance, it is essential.

  2. Bobbi Brown’s book is so good for learning the core stuff. So much of this was skipped over on the short/intense make-up course I did and I feel it should be the stuff that’s drilled into you before doing fake noses and sfx! My suggestion = I also liked Penny Delamare’s book on film make-up. That was my bible at college and I still refer to it now. Thank you ❤

    1. Hi Katie – thank you. Ah, yes, Penny Delamar’s book “The Complete Makeup Artist” is an excellent book – thanks for the recommendation ?

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