Gift ideas: Cosmetics (history) nerd
December 9, 2014 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I am appended to a cosmetics nerd, who is daily engrossed in the theory, history, and practice of makeup in Europe and the US. This is someone who has shelf space devoted to books on, like, the material culture of powder compacts between the great wars.

Can you recommend me books, or items, that would speak to such a person? I have no idea what I'm doing. I *am* able to see what the giftee has and does not have, to a reasonable extent.

Price range is pretty elastic.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Does she (or he) have any interest in owning vintage cosmetics-related items? If so, Etsy has some lovely vintage compacts. There are a smattering of other types of items as well - for example, this cosmetic case looks pretty neat.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

This FPP from last month was about a hairdresser who has been reconstructing historical hair styles... my thought was about whether there was an academic journal devoted to beauty-related stuff you could buy a gift subscription to, but it looks like the article she wrote was just published in a general archaeology journal.

If his or her focus is primarily on the U.S. and Europe, maybe an interesting gift could be something from the cosmetics section of an ethnic/expatriate market? I think that most of the places I go to which primarily sell foodstuffs usually have a little section of imported cosmetics and related goods.
posted by XMLicious at 4:23 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, get her something like this.

Get me one, too.

Also please ask her if she would share her LibraryThing data so I could read all her books and also, I would like to be her BFF sight unseen please.
posted by tel3path at 4:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

There are several books on Ebay that might be a good fit:


NEW Classic Beauty: The History of Make-Up by Gabriela Hernandez

Check out the bibliography on this page.

Maybe source some vintage advertisements from several eras, frame in matching/coordinated frames for a wall decor thing.

Also, nthing vintage compacts, brushes, perfume bottles, etc.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can lay your hands on it, a copy of Designing Your Face by Way Bandy would probably be welcome. All the makeup artists since the 80s have been influenced by his work.

You might also try to get The Art of Makeup by Kevyn Aucoin - one of those who were knowingly influenced by Bandy - as it's the oldest and rarest of his books. There's also Making Faces and a couple more after it.

There is a book of art makeup that's also called Making Faces, by Dennie Pasion.

I do not have this but I want it. I also don't have this but anything by Rae Morris comes highly recommended.

There's Nars' "Makeup Your Mind" which is quite fun.

If she speaks French there is a nice book by Ann Ramirez et al, called "The MakeUP Book" which is about color matching to the complexion.

I've also enjoyed a book called Passport to Beauty which is a bit cheesy but which is about international beauty customs, some of which are practical enough that I've adopted them myself (which is unusual).
posted by tel3path at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Plus, I don't know if she'd actually like these, but here are some current palettes that are especially compact-y:

Urban Decay Naked On The Go Palette

Too Faced used to have a mini version of their chocolate palette that was the same size as an iPhone 5 and came with a detachable phone case. Very cheesy but strangely impossible to resist from my point of view.
posted by tel3path at 4:56 PM on December 9, 2014

Or, if she would like to be able to perform magic, here is this historic woad collection of powerful woman through the ages.

She will be able to absorb the powers of these women without actually having to eat them or anything, which is good because they wouldn't taste particularly nice by now, even under the best of conditions.
posted by tel3path at 5:00 PM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: tel3path, et al, thank you so much. This has been immensely helpful so far!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:05 PM on December 9, 2014

For some reason my mind goes to Guerlain. Guerlain History is fascinating and very important to perfume and make-up.

Here's a gift pack I'd recommend:

Meteorites Compact

If you want a gorgeous present, go for the Bespoke Fragrances.

If you like, get one of the old classics. Jicky might do. It was created in 1889.

The penultimate gift would be a trip to the Guerlain store at Epcot.

The ultimate would be the flagship store in Paris. And while you're at it, a side trip to Grasse where the flowers are gathered for fragrance.

Sorry, got a bit lost there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:23 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

These Wayne Goss brushes are something I would be thrilled to get. The reviews are all pretty stellar, and he seems to be a really nice guy (and a talented makeup artist to boot). (He has a Youtube channel for those who are interested.)
posted by oneirodynia at 6:44 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Framed prints of very vintage Vogue covers. Here are the covers from 1918, for instance.

oh god i want like fifty of these things
posted by erst at 6:54 PM on December 9, 2014

Seconding the book Classic Beauty by Hernandez. The breakdowns of the makeup looks by decade are truly awesome.
posted by matildaben at 10:14 PM on December 9, 2014

Ruthless Bunny is right! I second the recommendation for Guerlain products! I have a couple of their (horrifically expensive but exquisite) RougeG liquid lipsticks and love them. The cases are like jewellery. I'd love to receive a Meteorites compact as a gift.

And if you really wanted to score some points/lose some money, maybe grab a set of brushes from Hakuhodo? See also, the Nars Kabuki brushes.
posted by nerdfish at 1:15 AM on December 10, 2014

Much cheaper than a lot of the gorgeous, gorgeous stuff recc'd above, and if the recipient is as much of a cosmetics nerd as indicated, they may have this stuff already, but I've heard nice things about Besame's high-quality replications of historic shades and old-school beauty products.

1930's mascara! 1940's lipstick! Face cream in vintage-style jars!
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:52 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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