Book Report: Makeup: The Ultimate Guide by Rae Morris

 Rae Morris is often sited as Australia's top makeup artist. On top of being a well respected makeup artist, she's also an author of five books - today I'll be reviewing Makeup: The Ultimate Guide. This beauty book features a mixture of step by step tutorials and Rae's comments and explanations of various products and techniques. Photography was provided by Steven Chee. Coming in at 245 pages long, Makeup: The Ultimate Guide is split into an introduction, 14 chapters, and a gallery of Rae Morris' best work. This book was published by Allen&Unwin. Makeup: The Ultimate Guide retails on Rae Morris' website for $40. This book was kindly lent to me by my sister in law, Ashleigh.

 Makeup: The Ultimate Guide is a large paperback book. The front cover features model Catherine McNeil sporting a simple yet dramatic look. The title is written in large, silver lettering. The back cover offers information on the book. The layout of Makeup: The Ultimate Guide is absolutely fantastic, some pages are loaded with photos, but they never look cluttered. The way the photos are set up in the tutorials is very easy to follow. My one complaint is about the photography in these step-by-step tutorials. I'm not a fan of the lighting used in the tutorials - its very warm and kinda harsh. On the other hand, I do like that the step-by-step photos are not edited - it gives the process a realness. Even the end result photos aren't over edited, the texture of the skin and makeup is still visible.
 [tutorial example]
Makeup: The Ultimate Guide begins with a foreword by Delta Goodrem. The book quickly moves on to a one page intro. Rae begins her book by chatting about how she made the jump from a hair stylist to a makeup artist. She goes on to tell the reader what she hopes to explain throughout the book. 
 Chapter 1: Essentials
In Makeup: The Ultimate Guide's first chapter, Rae Morris educates the reader on the tools and product that need to be in your makeup kit and why. When it comes to the makeup portion of this chapter, there isn't anything listed that any beauty addict doesn't already have in her arsenal, except maybe bicarb (baking soda), which Rae recommends as an exfolliant. The next section, on brushes, is much more informative. I like Rae's overall attitude towards brushes, she gladly admits that she uses a 50/50 mix of cheap and expensive brushes. I also like that she doesn't pimp and plug her own rather pricey line of brushes. Brush cleansing products and techniques are also briefly touched on in this chapter. 
 Chapter 2: Skin Prepping
Rae kicks off chapter two by reminding you that this book will not be going in depth on skincare. This chapter is very short, only three pages long. The chapter is sub-divided into two sets of three step instructions - eye prep and face prep. The author advises readers to be conscious of whether their foundation formula will be oil or water based, than offers skin preparing tips from there on out. I disagree with a few of of Rae's techniques. Rae suggests always applying foundation to the eyelids - something I never do. The tone of the author is pretty condescending throughout the book, but I feel as though she's particularly arrogant in this chapter. 
 Chapter 3: Eyebrows
After reading Benefit's Raising Eyebrows by Cameron Tuttle, I don't think I can learn much more about brows. Obviously, Rae's take on eyebrows is much more condensed, but with a significantly more negative inflection. In Benefit's book, they offer suggestion on what brow shape works best for different face shapes and features. Rae Morris, however, chose to tell you exactly what is wrong with six different eyebrow shapes, while hailing one very specific shape as "the perfect brow". She goes on to offer the same brow grooming techniques found in most beauty blogs and books. The only standout part of this chapter is the page dedicated to coloring and bleaching the brows and the overall effect it can have on your appearance. 
 Chapter 4: False Eyelashes 
I really like the fourth chapter of Makeup: The Ultimate Guide. This chapter's visuals are brilliant. Rae applied a variety of different lash styles to a model while keeping the rest of her makeup the same in each shot. This really aided in the explanation of each lash style. This helpful chapter also covers lash application techniques for full strip, individual, and bottom lashes, as well as how to choose an adhesive. I'm awful with falsies and found this chapter very informative. 
 Chapter 5: Eye Colour Charts
This chapter was written with advice from Brownwyn Fraser, who Rae Morris dubs an expert in color science. Chapter 5 offers a breakdown of eyeshdow finishes and their ideal uses. Several pages are dedicated to color charts for each eye color and suggestions for eyeshadow and eyeliners. This chapter is almost completely made up of visuals and charts. 
Chapter 6: Eyes
Rae Morris always applies eye makeup first. Why? Mainly to minimize fallout cleanup, but also to save time and because she feels they're the most important aspect of the face. This chapter is meant to teach the reader basic eye shadow application, ie applying a wash of color. One annoyance I have with this chapter of Makeup: The Ultimate Guide is that Rae Morris puts a lot of emphasis on eye shape (as she should) and even states that most women have issues identifying their eye shape and therefore do not know how to work with their shape...yet she chose to not include and visual or written information on how to identify your eye shape. This mistake renders the rest of the chapter useless to those of that are unsure of their eye shape. However, for those of us that are well versed in identifying eye shapes, this portion of the book is overflowing with tricks and hints for how to apply shadow and eyeliner to a wide variety of eye shapes. A full page is devoted to smokey eye points. The next pages offer 24 step by step tutorials that'll create a huge array of eye looks; from simple to smokey to high fashion and edgy.
Chapter 7: Asian Eyes
Rae Morris has dedicated an entire chapter to Asian eye shapes - which will either be extraordinarily helpful or of no interest to the reader. There is a lot of emphasis on eyelashes in the seventh chapter. This is a short chapter, only one page of written tips. This chapter is mainly comprised of four tutorials. Just like in the prior chapter, the how-to's are short and easy to follow. 
Chapter 8: Over 40's
Just as Rae Morris felt Asian eye shapes were deserving of their own chapter, she also felt the need to include a section on working with more mature women. Rae offers 10 key tips on how to use makeup to help you age gracefully. Many of these tips are commonly stated - no frosty shadows, don't over pluck the brows, but the author also makes interesting points like never using cool toned face products. Once again, while the information if helpful, the tone is kinda harsh and almost catty. Most women are pretty sensitive about aging, I feel as though Rae could've approached the subject a bit more gently. This chapter includes five more simple tutorials. I think these may be the most beautiful looks in the book. 
Chapter 9: Contouring
The next subject Makeup: The Ultimate Guide tackles is contouring. This chapter offers fantastic visuals (see above). The face charts not only show where to contour, but why that area should be contoured. Rae Morris offers a 8 point list of reasons to contour. She suggests using "nude, skin toned blushes or grease or cream based foundations two or three shades darker than your natural skin tone." Rae makes some strange statements in this chapter, like calling contouring an "advanced technique" that "not many women and makeup artists of the younger generations use." That part really seems odd to me. The following pages include 3 contouring charts and an explanation of what features each contouring method enhances and detracts. 
Chapter 10: Foundation
This chapter covers the varieties, finishes, and levels of coverage commonly found in foundations. Rae points out the severe lack of color options for very pale and very dark people that plagues Australia (and the rest of the world, to a lesser extent.) She also offers tips on how to select a shade correctly. There are a few pages that are supposedly dedicated to concealing blemishes, but it really talks about the prevention and care of blemishes as opposed to actual concealing techniques, which are barely even touched on. A few tutorials are thrown in as well, but they're extremely vague and aren't much of a use to me. 
Chapters 11&12: Bronzing and Highlighting
I'm combining these chapters because they're both very short. The author starts off her chapter on bronzing by mentioning the different cultural views on tanning, then quickly moves on to the cosmetic aspects of applying bronzer. The next pages offer four examples of bronzing, just just a light hint of color to a quite intensely tanned look. In the highlighting portion, Rae explains the importance and function of highlighting, then lays down the law on where should, and shouldn't be, highlighted. A page is also lays out the best shades for highlighting a variety of skin tones. Two tutorials are included, one for highlighting light-medium skins, and one for richer complexions. 
Chapter 13: Lips&Cheeks
The final chapter about beauty products. The chapter begins with Rae promising not to over explain lip products while still covering the basics, like choosing lipstick and liner shades. She also recommends removing all hair in the lip area (once again in a stern tone). Rae offers a lot of great lip tips in this chapter, its one of the most informative sections of the book. Two easy tutorials wrap up this half of the chapter. Rae Morris stresses the importance of blush in the second half of the chapter, as well as the value of correct application. To quote her, she calls blush the "best product to bring youth and glow to the skin. However if used incorrectly, it is also the best product to make you look like a clown ready for a fancy dress party". Rae's top tip for blush is to never go matte on the cheeks - always use a blusher with a touch of a sheen. And her golden rule? Never, ever smile during blush application. This chapter concludes with a four step guide on proper blush application.
Chapter 14: Ten Minute Makeovers + Rae's Gallery
The final chapter of Makeup: The Ultimate Guide offers seven tutorials for makeup looks that can be thrown together in 10 minutes or less. These looks vary from barely there to tips on transforming last night's smokey eye (not that you've slept in your makeup). Every look is gorgeous, and you'll spot famous faces in these chapters. Makeup: The Ultimate Guide finishes with a two page collage of Rae Morris' best work, including two  from Harper's Bazaar.
Sorry to have written a book about this book, but a lot needs to be said when considering a nearly 250 page book written by one of the best known makeup artists. I have very mixed feelings about Rae Morris' Makeup: The Ultimate Guide. This book is laid out beautifully and is absolutely loaded with information. The book will be useful for just about anyone with any level of makeup knowledge. I'm not partial to Rae Morris' writing style and tone. She comes across as arrogant and uppity. She seems to be almost talking down to the reader at times. I've seen Rae at IMATS and have watched many of her YouTube videos and she seems like a nice enough person that can convey information in a professional but personable way. Really, I'm not sure why she comes off as so condescending in her book, its very unfortunate and off-putting. I'm half wondering if its sarcasm but isn't coming off that way. That's a very Australian way of going about.  I disagree with a handful of Rae's techniques, we all go about things differently. Regardless of my opinion on Rae's writing style, I respect her as a makeup artist, she's great at what she does and is undeniably knowledgeable. That being said, I don't recommend Makeup: The Ultimate Guide - its an expensive book (if bought directly through Rae Morris, it can be found cheaper on Amazon) that doesn't offer any ground breaking information.


  1. This, along with Kevyn Aucoin's Making Faces, is one of my two beauty bibles. If I need inspiration, I flip open the book and re-read. I appreciate her chapter on Asian eyes and the variety of tutorials, from clean to colorful. The writing tone didn't jump at me, but I suppose it varies from person to person. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed the book to a certain extent! :) x

    1. I would love to get ahold of Kevyn Aucoin's Making Faces! I'm glad you enjoy this book. And I agree that the tutorials are lovely!