Book Review: Glamour Gurlz

Released in 2006, Joanna Schlip's teenage beauty book Glamour Gurlz, is a fun introduction to cosmetics for pre-teens and teens. Schlip, a celebrity-makeup artist and former judge on Blush, wrote this book to send the message that, while makeup is fun to play with, real beauty is found on the inside. Schlip shares her experience with a freak accident that left her with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her face and how that changed her own vision of herself and her approach to beauty. Out of that experience, Glamour Gurlz was born.

Filled with beautiful full color photography of seventy different makeup looks for day and night, the book is an excellent resource for teen beauty. While I'm far from a teen myself, I actually found the book to contain some good tips and tricks and also some adult appropriate looks. The real strengths of the book include Schlip's very reasonable perspective on teen beaut -- no heavy foundation or age inappropriate looks here! She is a big fan of tinted moisturizer for sheer coverage for teens and there is no lipstick in sight as she favors only gloss for this group. A variety of looks featuring eyes, lips and cheeks are included, but none are overly complicated or intimidating. Even on the most elaborate eye looks, no more than two eye shadows and a liner pencil are ever used.

Another thing I really like is that she demonstrates several looks on each girl in the book so that you can see how subtly changing the makeup works on different faces. The "models" are, by and large, regular girls although there are a few guest appearances from celebrities like Hilary Duff. She also uses a wide variety of models with different face shapes, skin tones and ethnicities.

One area for improvement is her step-by-step instructions. There is a lot of repetition in how to apply tinted moisturizer and concealer (essentially on every page), but not a lot of close-up detail on how to get some of the eye looks. She shows you every finished face, but I think an inexperienced makeup user might appreciate some more detailed instruction with photos.

The book is peppered with bits of Schlip's wisdom and advice, things like "find your voice" and "dream big." Although these are clearly well-intentioned and genuine, I find them to be a bit patronizing and trite. However, maybe if I were a teenager then I would feel differently about it. I think that her motivation is pure and certainly I don't disagree with the sentiment, but these pages just seem like a distraction. Admittedly, it's tough to celebrate inner beauty and self confidence in a book about makeup because, on the surface, the two things are contradictory. More so than from the "be yourself" sorts of platitudes, I think that the message about inner beauty comes across in her attitude and advice about the makeup: use it to enhance gorgeous features without overt contouring or heavy-handed application. In other words, Schlip shows girls how to use makeup to look their best, but to remember that it is you that the makeup shows off, after all.

All in all, this book was fun to read and beautifully produced. I would have loved something like this when I was a teen. Glamour Gurlz would be an excellent gift for a teen in your life (especially one who is wearing a bit too much makeup).



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