Sali Hughes' first book Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion (you can read my review here) was a no-brainer purchase for me. Writing down my knowledge on beauty and make-up was why I started this blog and Pretty Honest is basically every thing you need to know whether you wear make-up every day or not (thanks a lot Hughes). But half this blog is product reviews - some which we won't remember in a years time and some that are real icons and nostalgia triggers and that's the genius idea behind Pretty Iconic: A Personal Look at the Beauty Products that Changed the World.
And yes I know. A book of reviews doesn't sound that great, which is why I didn't feel the need to rush out and buy this. But then I got my hands on a copy at a friends house and I absolutely loved it. Let me clarify, I feel like my knowledge of make-up and skincare products is pretty comprehensive especially 1980s and '90s when there wasn't the sheer glut of products that we have now. But why this book works is that for those of us who wore Lulu in their teens, who know that bloody YSL Touche Eclat is not a concealer and spend their working life listening to people saying 'I can't wear red lipstick. Ruby Woo looked awful on me' Sali's writing on these products is so spot on that I actually shouted 'yes' as some bits of it. And for those who don't know so much it's all you do need to know - it's historical, cultural, and for a lot of us incredibly nostalgic. My mother wears two of the scents mentioned (Rive Gauche and Chanel No 5) neither of which I can carry off (though god knows I've tried) and both which immediately take me back to watching her get ready to go out, the fascination at this ritual mixed with the dread of the babysitter still palpable.
Part of the reason I wasn't immediately drawn to this book was that I thought 'oh god she's included products that I don't love' but, as she points out in the intro, neither, necessarily does she but sometimes, it's sad to admit, products we don't like become icons (see above mention of Touche Elcat and Ruby Woo). But it's not just the classics. Sali manages to pick out the more modern icons too. The book is divided into five clever sections - the icons, the Nostalgics, the Gamechangers, the Rites of Passage and the Future Icons. These choices make the book work, bring it all together and make it so much more than just a look through a list of products the author likes after decades in the make-up and beauty business. I love that she has included the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (a Gamechanger) and the much-hyped oils from Sunday Riley (Future Icons for which she voices the same concerns as I have about storage of oils and active formula's).
And I'm not alone the reviews I've read for this book are pretty much fantastic across the board (one scathing review was written by someone who announced that Pretty Honest
didn't tell them anything new which frankly, I think is bollocks). I am not a 'Sali fan' (as this person refers to, a lot) - I love her writing, I follow her on Twitter and Instagram but I don't religiously read her column (I never get the Guardian) and I try to avoid reading too many other beauty/skincare things because I want to form my own opinion in my own style. But I trust her judgement and I trust her knowledge and that's why this book works. And lets not overlook that she's made it quite clear in the title - this is a personal look. If you don't agree that's fine (but I'm 99% sure you will).
Do you need to dash out and buy it for every girl you know? No you don't (you really should buy Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion
for every girl you know) but for those friends who have a signature scent, a make-up look that they wear religiously or who you have fond memories of making up when you were 10 this is such a lovely thing to have.
I have next to my bed, Pretty Iconic
is definitely one for the coffee table.