I’ve always been an avid reader. Devouring Agatha Christie, discovering Daphne du Maurier, falling in love with Jane Austen and her heroines… I would read under my duvet with a torch long past my bedtime because I had to finish the page, the chapter, the story. All these years later that need to know what happens next hasn’t left me and now I annoy my husband no end by reading in bed with a clip-on torch way longer I should, encroaching on the 8 hours’ beauty sleep I require to function the following day. If I could just get myself to bed one hour earlier this would be the perfect winding down session without compromising on shut eye. And what better reading list than three beauty books to expand my knowledge of skincare, natural beauty and beautypreneurship (yep that’s a thing). Beauty is not just my job it’s my career, and these non-fiction reads are set to educate me, challenge me and open my eyes to different approaches.

Beauty books on a bedside table

The Skincare Bible by Dr Anjali Mahto  

If you’re looking for a light fun entertaining read this is not it. More of a skincare manual or encyclopaedia than a cover to cover read, dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto’s Skincare Bible provides a handy introduction to skin and its needs. From ageing to acne, rosacea to pigmentation, this informative book will bust a few beauty myths along the way.

What I liked about it:

  • The book is clearly structured so you can dip in and out of it, focusing solely on your skin concerns.
  • It’s reassuring for acne sufferers like myself. Having battled with the skin condition for over two decades, Dr Anjali covers the topic extensively, you can tell it’s close to her heart. I didn’t realise that acne affects as many as 80% of people at some point between 11 and 30 years old.
  • I can get on board with her brand call outs which feature French pharmacy brands such as La Roche-Posay, Avene, Eucerin and Cerave.
  • All the skincare buzz ingredients you’ll have come across in your beauty products are explained, from anti-ageing retinol and resveratrol to probiotics and AHAs.
  • I learnt something new: growth factors used in skincare are proteins that regulate cell growth and division. Traditionally used for wound healing, they are thought to improve collagen production.

Books on a bookshelf

What I wasn’t so keen on:

  • The first chapter A Crash Course in Skin dives straight into anti-ageing – crash course indeed. You’ll learn the importance of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in your skin, but as a first topic this feels full on!
  • Dr Anjali describes many acne and acne scar treatments, but it seems many of the ones she recommends (such as microneedling) involve damaging the skin to trigger new collagen production. Is that really the best way?
  • The book ends on anti-ageing injectable treatments such as Botox and dermal fillers, which I wouldn’t categorise as skincare

The message I walk away with: prevention is better – and cheaper – than cure, so always wear sunscreen, which will protect your skin from ageing, pigmentation, sun spots and skin cancer. I’d say this book provides access to dermatologist expertise for a fraction of the price you’d pay for a consultation. RRP £14.99

The Nature of Beauty by Imelda Burke  

This book’s tag line ‘organic skincare, botanical beauty rituals and clean cosmetics’ doesn’t do it justice. The remit of Imelda Burke’s beauty book is much wider. Tackling not just skincare (which is regularly covered within natural beauty) but also makeup, bodycare, haircare, perfume and essential oils, this guide invites you to be conscious about what you put on your skin, what it does and where it originates from. You’ll get a thorough introduction to the benefits of switching to natural without the preachiness.

Helpful tips include:

  • Lists of synthetic ingredients to avoid, specifying what they would be called on a   product label eg. mineral oils, parabens, SLS, talc, silicones
  • Explanations of claims commonly found on product packaging such as chemical free, dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, slow skincare, fairtrade, wild harvested
  • How lifestyle can affect skin health: eat the rainbow to add colour to your skin, avoid trans-fats if skin is irritated, cut down on coffee and alcohol if skin is dehydrated
  • Detailed chapter on skin types featuring a myth-busting section, ingredients to look for, the optimal skincare routine, lifestyle tips (eg. wear natural fibres to avoid irritating dry skin) and natural beauty hacks (customising your moisturiser by adding a few drops of facial oil – I love doing that!).
  • A table matching essential oils with skin type (tea tree for spot prone), skin conditions (chamomile to battle eczema) and moods (lavender to fight insomnia)
  • If you’re looking to switch to natural, Imelda provides a ‘If you love this, try this’ list of brands and products (if you’re a Liz Earle fan, try Pai Skincare – I second that!)

I found the section on nature vs science particularly interesting, as you do often find these two attributes pitted against each other, as if a beauty product had to be one or the other. But Imelda’s argument is that nature is science. There is no less science in a natural product than a synthetic one, and beauty breakthroughs have come from studying how nature works. So if synthetic ingredients are made to imitate nature, why choose imitation when you can have the real thing?

Although there are no glossy colour photos here I still think this would make a good coffee table book as the cover is elegant and you can dip in and out of chapters quite easily. RRP £20.00

Beauty books on a coffee table

How To Make It Happen by Maria Hatzistefanis 

Reading this book made me look forward to my daily train commute. Maria Hatzistefanis’ punchy, easy to digest book spells out how to motivate yourself and focus your drive and energy to make things happen. If you’re not familiar with the founder of skincare brands Rodial and NIP+FAB, fear not, the author won’t miss a chance to remind readers of her achievements: her beauty empire, her bestselling book How to be an Overnight Success, meeting celebrities, her followers on @MrsRodial… Of course self-promotion will have been key to her successes. What I find refreshing here is that although failure is a big topic it’s dealt with in a positive way: behind every ‘overnight success’ is a previous failure and a learning to take from it. Beware also of comparing yourself to others: use it to learn from others’ successes rather than to berate yourself.

Book peeping out of handbag

My top 5 favourite quotes:

  • Success is not final and failure is not fatal
  • 3 golden rules: set your goals, plot your trajectory, make it happen
  • It’s all about hard work, there are no short cuts
  • During the day, you have a job. In the early morning, you have a career
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

How To Make It Happen offers a feminine take on business, talking not just about hard business but how to juggle family with work commitments, how to be a present parent, sacrificing your social life and fashion tips. My only criticism? Maria’s parting anecdote didn’t resonate with me: having to walk the length of Oxford Street in heels and arriving at Vogue House – gasp – on foot rather than in a Merc shouldn’t be the big drama that it was portrayed to be. Maria featured so many inspiring stories throughout, it seemed a shame to end on that note. Other than that this is a fun upbeat read that offers a great balance between business advice, fashion tips and celebrity stories. RRP £12.99

Do you have any beauty reads to recommend? Please leave a comment below to let me know.

Features gifted items.


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