Read an Excerpt
What is beauty? Does anyone really know? We search for it and make art to try to capture its essence. We share in the pleasure of it, and when it seems absent from our daily lives, we long for it. We thrive on it-and are often willing to suffer for it. Beauty is personal and political. It is elusive and eternal. It is many things: strength, confidence, passion, grace-a sense of style, a turn of
head, a state of mind. In truth, no one can say exactly what beauty is, but one thing is certain: Every woman wants it.
As a fashion editor and beauty writer for the past 15 years, I've investigated and reported on the stuff that beauty's made of; and as a woman, I've consumed it. I've attended hundreds of product launches, press conferences, and industry debuts. Truckloads of products have crossed my desk. Not only have I sampled virtually every hair mask, cleanser, powder, and detoxifying body treatment in existence, I've analyzed each one.
I've covered the industry from a few unusual perspectives: scribbling
notes as I lay half-naked on massage tables or in scented aromatherapy baths. Backstage at fashion shows in Paris, Milan, and New York, where I watched the bare-faced, ponytailed Kate Moss and Christy Turlington arrive in jeans and T-shirts, and emerge, hours later, like painted butterflies. I've soaked up tricks and tips from the pros, and I've absorbed everyone's behind-the-scenes beauty
secrets. I share the best of them in this book: how Bobbi Brown gives
Moss's skin such a dewy glow (baby oil), how FrTdTric Fekkai adds
volume to Claudia Schiffer's hair (StiffStuff), what makes Naomi
Campbell's lashes look so long (Maybelline Great Lash). I've interviewed cosmetic chemists, industry executives, top dermatologists, leading plastic surgeons, and aestheticians, and seen that there's a lot of good products out there-and plenty of brilliant spin.
Like many women, you've probably left a cosmetics counter dazed, dizzy, and suddenly $150 poorer. You got home and wondered: What is all this? And so I've cut through the hype to create a book that's jam-packed with everything you'll need to become not only an informed consumer but an expert on how to attain head-to-toe beauty through gentle, healthy means. You'll learn about ingredients so you can decode a cosmetics label and enough about skin cells, hair follicles, and oil glands so you understand the effect of products on your body. We all want to know whether status brands like Chanel and EstTe Lauder are really better than cheaper, mass-market brands like Revlon and Maybelline, or
whether Avon's inexpensive alpha-hydroxy acids measure up to
Elizabeth Arden's pricier ones. What do makeup artists and hairstylists know that we don't? In the real world, women need simple, straightforward, real information, and the kinds of shortcuts, tips, and techniques that you'll find in this book. The less intimidated you are, the more fun you'll have exploring the realm of beauty.
As most mothers know, almost as soon as little girls are old enough to look in the mirror, they get together with friends and style their hair, paint their nails, and rub fire-engine-red Crayolas on their lips. Hopefully this book will bring back some of that liberating sense of play you felt when you first experimented with makeup as a child. Applying makeup can be immensely satisfying once you have the confidence to play in your paint box. The right stuff and the attitude behind its use can transform you into a more confident, more beautiful version of yourself. Unlike most authors of beauty books, I am not a makeup artist, aesthetician, or hairstylist. I have no products to sell, though I do
recommend what I believe to be the best across a broad spectrum, from blush to body scrubs and for all skin colors and types. I've evaluated products on overall quality, healthfulness of ingredients, effectiveness, and sensory appeal.
When Elle magazine premiered in 1985, I found myself editing the hottest fashion and beauty magazine launch in history, at a time when standards of beauty were radically changing in America. In the 1970s, leggy blondes like Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley were the main models. But changing demographics over the next decades helped African American, Latin, and Asian models transform traditional Western standards of what is beautiful. Images of full-figured women in magazines broke through a barrier for women of all sizes. Now, every woman can see a gorgeous reflection of herself-and this book reflects that, too.
It's been a long struggle. I'm reminded of a striking photo by Horst, the renowned fashion photographer. Electric Beauty depicts a woman with a heat
mask on her face, an electric nail buffer in her hand, her legs in a bucket of suds, and her body encircled by cords. She is bound, gagged, and about to be
electrocuted by her own beauty regimen. I'd like to believe that Horst's view of the lengths women go for beauty is passT, and if this book accomplishes one thing, I hope it will help women realize that cosmetics exist to empower-not enslave them.
These days, most women prefer to seek out beauty by less risky,
gentler, more pleasurable means. We want to reveal, not conceal, our
natural beauty and let our true selves shine through. After all,
beauty begins in the brain, and what makes us truly beautiful is born
well below the surface: a gleam in our eye, an ear-to-ear grin, a
bounce in our step. But sometimes a little powder or a little paint
doesn't hurt-just a little, of course. So dig in, play around, and,
most of all, enjoy.
Five of Rona's Top Ten Trade Secrets:
- Dab a spot of vanilla eyeshadow under the arch of your brow - it will open up the eyes and make you look less tired.
- Put a bit of toothpaste on a pimple to dry it up overnight.
- Buy brushes in an art supply store and use them instead of the one that comes with blush.
- Looking tired and droopy for a big night out? Do what models do. Apply Preparation H under the eyes and on wrinkles. It'll decrease puffiness and smooth lines (temporarily).
- Dry brush your body regularly before you bathe or shower, and you'll never need moisturizer again.