OK let’s start with the good.
The author is obviously interested and passionate about her subject; it’s quite a specialised topic and research has been done. It is not a book which would appeal to everyone but it is a worthy read for people who like make-up and women’s history. Each chapter covers an era and the changing attitudes and tastes. I found the social aspects the most interesting – attitudes changed from women being branded as prostitutes if they wore cosmetics to it being considered odd if they didn’t in the space of a few decades. The history of the foundation (get the pun?) of some of the fashion houses and brands. particularly the older ones created by and for women was also pretty good.
The author covers everything – a brief mention of ancient cosmetics, to Victorian values, to rouge, compacts, eye make up, hair, punks, yuppies and hippies. It’s interesting to see how looks change, even within our own lifetimes, but also how some of the ‘fringe’ looks and lifestyles cling on (goth, punk, hippy). The chapter on wartime cosmetics was particularly good – how did women improvise, and harken back to older times with home-made and more natural products.
There is also a good discussion about the downsides of some of the cosmetics – lead in face whitener, hair products that eventually made you bald, and the increasing regulation on cosmetics as it became a really big industry.
Now the bad. This would work much better as a print book. The Kindle version has lots of formatting errors, typos and the pictures are small and hard to see. The errors eventually got really quite annoying (maybe it’s the writer in me). I don’t usually mark down books for this but there were so many!
I’d recommend this – but only the print version.