I think I need to point out right from the beginning that I am not a massive make-up wearer – I rarely put it on. So when I found myself getting a copy of Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest I wondered why I wanted it. There is no doubt that it’s a stunningly beautiful book, and far more useful than a glossy coffee table book with nothing but pictures, but it’s still a make-up book. And I don’t wear make-up.
I like reading about make-up though, I like thinking that if I ever do wear it I know what I am doing and what I am buying. Of course this is nonsense since everything I seem to read online contradicts everything else I read online. But with Pretty Honest I actually believe that what has been written hasn’t been written because of pressure from the company. Sali Hughes’ reputation and knowledge in the field is unprecedented.
So I started reading Pretty Honest and I didn’t stop until I finished it. It covers so many aspects of a person’s life – teenage experimentation with make-up, acne, childbirth, work, aging, and serious illness, and everything is incredibly realistic. Sali glosses over nothing nor does she hold back. And this makes what she has written believable.
Beauty isn’t complicated nor is it a chore, or an un-feminist thing to do. If you want to wear red lipstick then wear it – life is too short to worry about if it is the right place or time. Apply nail polish while shouting at Question Time because having a brain and liking beauty are not mutually exclusive.
Pretty Honest is full of recommendations of products, techniques, and routines plus a brilliant and wonderful dismissal of myths and pointless products (anti-ageing products, neck creams). What Sali does more than anything is defend the act of beauty, the act of changing your appearance, and the women who love it. I know that as a woman who doesn’t wear make-up I am seen as being somehow better and more confident than those who do. I hate that way of thinking. I am not brave for choosing not to wear make-up just as those who do are not cowardly.
Reading Pretty Honest I can see why beauty lovers have fallen in love but as an outsider I love the clarity of the advice, how unintimidating it is, and more than anything how practical it all is. With this book I know I can enter this world whenever I want to and I will be welcome.