Thursday, April 21, 2011

François Nars- Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself- Book Review

Ten years ago François Nars released the first version of his book Makeup Your Mind, featuring 63 professional model of varying fame level with and without makeup, to show how transforming makeup can be and how to create and apply the looks. This spring Nars brings us Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself, where 60 men and women plucked from the Manhattan sidewalks serve the same purpose

The book is not all Nars, for better and for worse. It was art directed by Interview magazine editorial director Fabien Baron. It's probably a good thing, because I often kvetch and complain about some of Nars' ideas and the way he views women. Still, there's no denial Francois Nars is a wonderful artist- both in makeup and photography. His finished work is beyond impeccable and the chance to learn something about the way he works, his techniques and ideas is absolutely priceless.

The book is divided into three sections: “Play,” “Perfect,” and “Polish, ”and addresses what Nars calls the “everyday needs” of women in their twenties, thirties, and beyond. Whatever. I'm here to see and learn makeup. After the introductions, tips and general advice (more on that later) comes the main event: before and after photos of each person, taken in exactly the same light, angle and size with a transparent plastic overlay between each pair of images that has a template of the makeup used, exactly as it was placed on the subject. It's better than the standard face chart you get at (good professional) makeovers. If that's not enough. in the end of each section there are detailed how-to instructions for each look, including the brushes used.

The photographs are a feast for the eyes and the information would delight any makeup lover. I really like how Nars tells you not just which product/shade he used, but also what kind of color each item is. This way you not only understand exactly what he's done but also can find the right thing in your existing makeup collection, even if your matte black is something from Laura Mercier and not NARS Pandora. The book is not just for Narsaholics and one doesn't need to be closely familiar with the line, though I admit it helps and probably enhances the experience. If you don't know what kind of product and texture is a "multiple" Google is your friend. Be prepared though for some coveting to ensue, even if you already own an extensive amount of makeup. I now know I must get my hands on the single eye shadow in Sophia, a plum brown. Nars uses it in many looks and not just as an eye shadow. Apparently Sophia makes for an excellent blush.

Between the photos, details and general advice, this is in excellent book, both for long-time makeup enthusiasts and those who are just beginning their journey. Nars is surprisingly practical and sensible and comes off very sincere in his desire to teach. The book is so rich with ideas and inspiration I'm going to keep it at arm's reach when doing my makeup.  The one thing I'd urge you to skip is the inanely written foreword by Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys. It appears that Mr. Doonan thought he was tasked with composing an email newsletter campaign and not a thoughtful introduction to the work of an artist. He crammed every retail cliche he could find into his three pointless pages. The first time I opened the book it nearly put me off the entire thing. That said, I'm glad I just made a face at Simon Doonan and turned the page to enter the world of François Nars.

Bottom Line: Je t'aime, François.

François Nars- Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself, $24.19 on


  1. Thankyou for this great review! I've been looking at make-up books for a while now. I'm at that level where I know *about* things like contouring, brow shape etc. but I don't exactly know *how* to do them, so a book would be really helpful and interesting.

  2. The first edition is one of my favorite makeup books ever, so I'll definitely need to get this one too!

  3. I am planning on buying this book and I still need to buy the first one.

    I was counting all the NARS duos I currently own, it's insane.

  4. I'm waiting for my copy to arrive. Thanks for the review-I'm looking forward to it even more now :)


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