As much fun as it is to scroll through Instagram or TikTok, nothing can replace that warm, fuzzy feeling of curling up with a great book. And if you can learn something about skincare, health or beauty in the process? Even better!
That’s why I’ve created this list. These books do more than just look pretty on your bookshelf or coffee table—they’re actually full of useful tips, advice and recommendations to inspire changes in your daily routine.
Whether you’re new to building a regimen, need help resolving a particular skin issue, or just want to learn more about ingredients, there’s something for everyone here. So keep scrolling to discover the best skincare, health and beauty books to add to your reading list or home library.
The Book Edit
- Best for beginners: Let’s Face It by Rio Viera-Newton
- Best science: Skincare Decoded by Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu
- Best for sensitive skin: Beyond Soap by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki
- Best for cosmetic procedures: The Park Avenue Face by Dr. Andrew Jacono
- Best natural beauty: Renegade Beauty by Nadine Artemis
- Best nutrition: How to Heal Your Metabolism by Kate Deering
- Best K-beauty: The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho
The Best Skincare, Health and Beauty Books of 2021
Let’s Face It by Rio Viera-Newton
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the skincare products out there—let alone how to use them—you’ll find Let’s Face It to be a handy companion. Written by New York magazine’s Rio Viera-Newton, it covers everything from common ingredients to creating the right routine for your skin. There are also tips on applying and layering skincare, how to tell if a product isn’t working, and more.
Skincare Decoded by Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu
For years, cosmetic chemists Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu have been sharing their knowledge on the Instagram account Chemist Confessions. Now, it’s been distilled into book form with Skincare Decoded. It’s an in-depth guide to superstar ingredients (from vitamin C to retinoids), plus how to decipher product labels and build a routine.
Beyond Soap by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki
As a dermatologist specializing in skin allergies, Dr. Sandy Skotnicki is all too familiar with the harmful effects of certain cosmetic ingredients and beauty habits. In Beyond Soap, she argues that many skin issues are self-inflicted, and explains exactly how to get your skin back to its natural, healthy state. Her advice on the “product elimination diet” (and which ingredients to avoid) is key for those who deal with irritation or sensitivity.
The Beauty Insider by Alison Young
The Beauty Insider is a clear and comprehensive guide to beauty from head to toe. Alison Young has more than 35 years of industry experience (including stints as a consultant, presenter, makeup artist and beauty therapist). Here, she shares her most essential tips on skincare, haircare, makeup and bodycare. There are even helpful illustrations to demonstrate the proper facial massage technique, eyeshadow application, and more.
The Park Avenue Face by Dr. Andrew Jacono
The Park Avenue Face is an invaluable resource for anyone considering surgical or non-surgical procedures. Dr. Andrew Jacono is a New York-based, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon who has operated on Marc Jacobs and Dr. Paul Nassif. He explains what happens to each part of the face as we age, and the best treatment options for natural-looking results. The chapter on how to avoid being “botched” is a must-read.
The Beauty Brief by Katie Service
It’s a beauty editor’s job to help you navigate the skincare industry, and in The Beauty Brief, Katie Service does just that. This is a collection of tips, explanations and definitions to guide you through your morning and evening routines and visits to the dermatologist. Don’t miss the case studies on cult products (and why we love them) and her take on bigger issues like sustainability, preservatives, animal testing and more.
Renegade Beauty by Nadine Artemis
Renegade Beauty takes a holistic approach to beauty and wellness. Nadine Artemis, founder of organic skincare line Living Libations, advocates for a new paradigm in self-care—one that eschews consumerism and is attuned to the healing powers of Nature. But this guide is far from “fluff,” citing dozens of studies in dermatology, botany and microbiology and covering everything from oral care to breast health. There are also DIY recipes for every type of beauty remedy.
Great Skin by Ingeborg van Lotringen
For straight-talking skincare advice in an easy-to-read format, look no further than Great Skin. Veteran beauty journalist Ingeborg van Lotringen shares all her insider intel (that she claims the beauty industry doesn’t want us to know!). You’ll learn how to fine-tune your routine, which ingredients are worth the hype, and how to solve the most common skin issues.
How to Heal Your Metabolism by Kate Deering
If you want to slow down the aging process from within, then How to Heal Your Metabolism is the book for you. Holistic health coach Kate Deering explains that a broken metabolism is at root of most health issues. Rather than accepting the symptoms of “aging” as inevitable, you can reverse course with nutrition, rest and the right mental attitude. The advice is extremely practical, and it’s all presented in an easy-to-understand, non-judgemental format.
The Skincare Bible by Dr. Anjali Mahto
The Skincare Bible is akin to a “skincare 101” course—it’s a dermatologist’s take on the most common skin complaints and how to deal with them. Dr. Anjali Mahto presents research-backed information on everything from acne to rosacea, explaining what to realistically expect from her recommended products and in-office procedures. She also tackles common questions about sun protection, hormones, anti-aging treatments and vitamin D.
Glow from Within by Joanna Vargas
Now you don’t need to be one of Joanna Vargas’ famous clients to get access to her skincare secrets, thanks to Glow from Within. The celebrity aesthetician—whose approach is a cross between natural and high-tech—shares her advice on all aspects of skincare and self-care, including her favourite ingredients, lifestyle tips and thoughts on cosmetic procedures.
Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore
Skin Cleanse isn’t so much a “cleanse,” but a resource that can help you pinpoint the cause of your skin problems (especially sensitivity). Adina Grigore is the founder of S.W. Basics—a 100% natural skincare line that uses no more than five ingredients in any product—and healed her own reactive skin by eliminating both topical and dietary triggers. Don’t miss the chapter on toxic ingredients, as well as the DIY product recipes.
The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here by Paula Begoun, Bryan Barron and Desiree Stordahl
Paula Begoun may be best-known for her skincare brand, Paula’s Choice, but she first rose to fame as an investigative journalist and author (which is how she came to be called “The Cosmetics Cop”). In The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here, she returns to her roots, busting every possible myth about skincare. There are chapters for each skin type, along with advice on putting together a routine and what to expect from cosmetic procedures.
Skincare by Caroline Hirons
Outspoken “skinfluencer” Caroline Hirons has been dishing up advice on her blog since 2010. Now it’s compiled in Skincare, a guide to all things skincare written in her inimitable no-nonsense style. Along with advice on creating a routine and treating various skin conditions, there’s a fair share of myth-busting (from her take on clean beauty to which products can “get in the sea”).
The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho
The Little Book of Skin Care is an immersion into all things K-beauty by Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho, who popularized the 10-step Korean skincare routine in the West. Her book is both a memoir—she lived in Korea for five years—and a how-to guide, with tips on cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing the Korean way. There are also “skin stories” from Korean celebrities, along with a travel guide (if you ever find yourself in Seoul).
Skin Deep by Bee Shapiro
If you love reading about other people’s beauty routines, then you’ll love Skin Deep by Bee Shapiro. The New York Times columnist shares more than 40 routines from celebrities, entrepreneurs and beauty experts, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Bobbi Brown, Jen Atkin, Kylie Jenner and Zoë Kravitz, to name a few. There are also expert tips from Rose-Marie Swift, Patrick Ta, Dr. Dennis Gross and more.
Goop Clean Beauty by the Editors of Goop
Goop Clean Beauty is a collection of tips, recommendations and recipes from the editors of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website, Goop. It’s divided into two sections: Part One is about detoxing, with an emphasis on gut health, clean eating, sleep and yoga, while Part Two dives into healthy skincare, haircare and makeup tips. Ultimately, the message is to be more aware of what you’re putting on and in your body.
Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes
Pretty Honest is full of matter-of-fact advice from Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes. Dispelling the notion that you can’t be a feminist if you care about how you look, she offers guidance on makeup, hair and skincare based on her 20 years in the business. You’ll find answers to conundrums like how to pick a foundation, how to get Botox, how to look good in photos, and more.
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