Kevyn Aucoin had every reason to fail. Or to not even fail. “Fail” implies he had opportunities for success that eluded him; he didn’t. He was a feminine, gangly, boy who lived in the homophobic South with his Catholic adoptive family. Despite this, he became a self taught master who achieved an unprecedented celebrity in his forty years of life across the worlds of beauty, entertainment, and fashion. His storied resume is nothing short of amazing.

Aucoin Quote Liberating

I had cursory knowledge of his achievements following the publication of his 1999 book, Making Faces. My mom had a copy of the book and I remember paging through the oversized glossy photos marveling at the transformations achieved by makeup. Isabella Rosselinni made into Barbra Streisand, Lisa Marie Presley made into Marilyn Monroe.

His follow-up bestseller, Face Forward, has always been on my “To Read” list, but I never got around to it until this month.

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One of the frustrating aspects of Making Faces for the 1999 me, a complete makeup ignoramus, was the lack of instruction. There was no way I could read a brief description, look at a picture, and then recreate the fascinating looks on my own. I just ended up looking like a prostituting clown. Face Forward remedies this.

While it assumes a superficial familiarity with makeup (ie mascara is for eyelashes), the book goes through the basic tenets of makeup stepwise with lots of gorgeous photos. Aucoin discusses the facets of makeup that underscore its characterization as an art form: structure, shape, balance, texture, color, setting. Following this we get to the good stuff. The remaining sections of the book are basically a how-to manual of how and where and when to apply makeup. And it is awesome.

Aucoin Quote First Step

Step by step photos accompany smatterings of no-nonsense prose and guide the reader from achieving tasteful everyday looks to turning Gwenyth Paltrow into a startlingly convincing James Dean look alike. Aucoin’s talent is unbridled and thank goodness for that. He was used to defying odds and rebuking convention. To me he embodies the idea of pursuing your passion.

Aucoin Quote Ugly Heart

I highly recommend checking this book out if you’re interested in observing a master’s work or simply appreciate beautiful things. Let me know in the comments below what your favorite looks are and we can try recreating them in future Beauty About Boulder posts!