Make-up books tend to be more for professionals so it is great to have one aimed at those of us with an interest but not years worth of experience.
Providing 16 complete looks from the 1920s to the 1960s Retro Makeup by Lauren Rennells provides plenty of opportunities for experimentation with different styles and is a perfect compliment to her previous book Vintage Hairstyling.
But this little gem is much more than just a how to for specific looks and is also sumptuously illustrated with images of make up collectables, advertisements and iconic images for inspiration.
It is also chock full of fun and quirky facts about cosmetics and their application and if there is one criticism I have of the book is that it seems to be heavily reliant on Richard Corson’s  Fashions in Makeup -itself an amazing read. I would like to see some lesser known examples being cited and there is always a danger that repetition of isolated ‘trends’ will give them a false prominence in cosmetic history.
Application techniques are thoroughly explained and are also more realistically achievable than a lot of books with clear diagrams, photographs and wonderful close-ups. Another definite plus for this book is that they do not recommend a particular brand or products which leave the choice firmly dependent on your own budget.
The looks themselves are quite varied for each era as well as giving options for different skin tones. Something this book does particularly well is to give an overview of each decade – the types of cosmetics available, the tools for application, the colours used as well as new innovations such as lip gloss being released in the late 1920s and the new and improved Kurlash in the early 1950s.
For me this book is useful on two levels – both for people who are interested in achieving a particular style but also for people who want a good solid basic understanding of the history of cosmetics and period style.
Crucially she has compiled an interested bibliography which lists other interesting books if you want to read further into the subject.
If you’d like to get your own copy of the Retro Makeup then it’s available in The Historical Sauces book shop, or via the link below

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