The 10 Most Iconic Makeup Books That Deserve a Spot on Your Coffee Table

I know we can learn so much from platforms like TikTok and YouTube about makeup tips and trends. However, the coffee table book is an OG resource that will never go out of style. There are a wealth of makeup-related reads that have been coveted resources since their publishing, and rightfully so. Famed makeup artists such as Kevyn Aucoin and François Nars are trailblazers who put their artistry into stunning makeup coffee table books that are a true feast for the eyes. And of course, they deserve a special place in your decorating MO alongside our favorite fashion coffee table books.



Many of the books on this list have been a part of my personal archive since I was a preteen. I learned so much about makeup from them well before my mom gave me the okay to wear a hint of foundation when I turned 17. With picks from beauty icons Iman and Aucoin, I've rounded up 10 iconic makeup books that will continue to educate and inspire you. Keep scrolling!



10 Iconic Makeup Books Every Beauty Lover Should See

I live for a Nars concealer and, of course, blush. But learning about the history of François Nars feels important. This biography tells a compelling, inspirational story. With 400 pages of exclusive photographs, moments, and quotes alongside art direction by Fabien Baron of Baron & Baron, I know this book will become an instant coffee table staple. 

Before my mom allowed me to even think about wearing makeup, I owned this book. I begged her to purchase it at Borders Books long before we could order things with a click from Amazon. Aucoin is one of the most celebrated and prolific makeup artists ever. This book, filled with 200 color photos and sketches, outlines the basics of makeup application and techniques that truly stand the test of time. 

Scott Barnes is a celebrity makeup artist who has worked with A-listers, from Jennifer Lopez to Jennifer Aniston. Each page of this book is packed with techniques from all areas of makeup application. It even provides step-by-step photos that outline makeup techniques and products in addition to Barnes's commentary on how he built each look from start to finish. 

Face Paint is all about the why of makeup. Lisa Eldridge takes us through the historical context of makeup use, from the Egyptians to the golden era of Hollywood to the science and innovations of now. 

This book still sits on my bookshelf. It's one of the first books I purchased on my own, and it's one of the first resources I used as a young Black woman to learn how to care for my skin and apply makeup. The book shares skincare and makeup tips, and the imagery centers on women of color, making it one of my all-time favorite books to date.

Featuring iconic beauty figures like Naomi Campbell, Bella Hadid, Tilda Swinton, and Sharon Stone, this limited-edition 300-page book is another offering from Nars that deserves to be front and center on your coffee table. Each high-gloss image featured in this volume is shot in color against a rich black background with dramatic lighting, and the book explores unconventional beauty with a dose of glamor.

As it supplies readers with a history of makeup, style, and color through the lens of Dior, I think this book is a perfect mix of all the things I love. Divided into 12 chapters, the 272-page book showcases the source of inspiration for many of Dior's creations, including the work of renowned artists and Dior makeup advertising campaigns from greats like Serge Lutens, Tyen, and Peter Philips. 

This stunning book curates a collection of rarely accessed photographic archives and private collections, featuring a nest egg of historic photographs of famous actors, dancers, writers, and entertainers such as Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, and Aretha Franklin. Though this book doesn't give a play-by-play of how to re-create makeup looks, it centers Black beauty and is a reference and celebration of Black women. 

Whether you're a makeup enthusiast, professional makeup artist, or student, this book is for you. Each page explores how political and social climates have molded how we see ourselves through the lens of beauty. With over 450 images, timelines, and detailed vintage color palettes that explore the ever-evolving definitions of beauty and document makeup innovations—this book truly offers a beauty lesson. 

Bobbi Brown is the queen of your skin but better. This book covers skincare basics and makeup basics, including makeup must-knows like finding the right color and type of foundation for any skin tone and applying eye makeup.