Usbourne, Kevyn and François

One of my mother’s many efforts to generate income in my childhood involved being an Usbourne books re-seller. For the uninitiated Usbourne are children’s fact books sold in shops and also via a sort of Avon for small readers model.

My mother wasn’t especially successful at selling books to anyone other than me, and a few parents of school friends. Along with 1000 First Words in French, Irish for Beginners and endless Apple Tree Farm books the Usbourne Book of Make Up was my first introduction to reading about cosmetics.

Image from Pinterest

Despite the intended audience it was good sensible advice – even if a bit fixated on colour coordinating eye shadows. I didn’t get to make use of the advice very often, but it opened up a world of getting to read all about make-up.

My next beauty reading purchase was the canonical pairing of Face Forward and Making Faces. This though, was not until 20.


Where Usbourne helped pre-teen me learn the ‘rules’ Mr Aucoin taught me about breaking them. More importantly though, Making Faces gave me some possibilities. Until a few years ago I didn’t much like being me. I didn’t like the constraints, or the way in which people perceived me. The framework of what a me looks and acts like. Though I never acted upon the tutorials outside of the house just the knowledge that I could make myself into Barbra Streisand if I needed to, was reassuring.

I was never going to look like one of Mr Aucoin’s models though. That much was clear. I don’t mean that in a poor-me way, but more in that if anyone has ever compared me to anyone famous it is almost always someone from the 1930s or 1940s. I evidently have a face from the beyond. My next purchases were made with this in mind, Daniela Turudich’s Vintage Face and 1940s Hairstyles. The hair book left my ownership quite rapidly after I discovered that the world’s thickest hair does not willingly  pin-curl, rag-roll or frankly so very much. The Vintage Face book still sits in my house tempting me to make myself into a forties siren.

Accepting though that I don’t have the confidence to dress up as if I were Lauren Bacall reborn on a daily basis I moved onto  the book of backstage darling François Nars .

make up your mind
Picture from MakeUpAlley

A book of astounding beauty, and frustratingly impractical it has gone to live with someone who will enjoy the coffee table perving. Amazon tells me I purchased it on 20 September 2008 – which is partly a fascinating bit of trivia and partly a wee bit creepy. What Amazon doesn’t know is that for most of the nine years it lived with me it sat on a shelf, with it’s bizarre plastic outer cover attempting to lead a rebellion of all my oversized books.

It was completely and utterly beautiful, but after a couple of read throughs the only practical use I could find for M.Nars’s mighty tome was as a prop to keep up all the little books up.

I continue my pursuit for a book that ticks all my boxes…

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