Christine Koh

Hello!

I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

Beauty Confidential

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If you’re like me, a lover of beauty products who has found frustration in highly touted, highly priced beauty goods that do squat, then you’ll likely find relief in Nadine Haobsh’s Beauty Confidential. Written by a former New York City beauty editor, this book cuts the concealer, as it were, to bring you the straight scoop on beauty (including recommendations for products worth their weight in gold, and those just as well procured at the drugstore). I’m reviewing this book today in conjunction with The Parent Bloggers Network.
Haobsh has a good back-story. While a young NYC beauty editor on the rise, she started blogging anonymously as Jolie in NYC; dishing about beauty industry catfights, celebrity gossip, and the freebie-laden world in which she lived. She gained a cult following, was outed by the New York Post, and promptly found herself out of work.

But not for long, because the media frenzy that ensued over her story, coupled with Haobsh’s continued cheeky, honest approach to beauty propelled her to other ventures. Through the beauty Q&A component of her blog, she quickly realized that women were fed up with being misled by the beauty industry, which led to Beauty Confidential. Written with the unpretentious candor of a best friend, Beauty Confidential is replete with great information, sandwiched between description of the mind boggling level of swag Haobsh scored during her days working for the woman, and excerpts from Jolie in NYC. She dedicates chapters to hair (styling and color), eyes, face (complexion, sensitive skin, makeup), lips, body (including bikini line), and mani/pedis. Each chapter includes her top product recommendations, some pricey, some easily obtained at the drugstore.

As a mama typically short on time, my favorite chapter is the introductory Getting Started chapter, which lists and describes Haobsh’s beauty editor must have’s, products to splurge on, and those to get for cheap (the contents of which prompted me to load up a shopping cart at Drugstore.com), as well as the beauty how-to for the lazy girl section (how to get ready in 2, 5, 7, 10 minutes).

But I’m an editor and a graphic artist so I of course have some critiques. First, while Haobsh includes a product guide at the end of each chapter and a product index at the end of the book, this book really needs a topic index. If I’m wondering what to buy to cover up the dark circles under my eyes, I want to check the index to find out what page that topic is covered on, not comb through the content of the potentially inclusive chapters (eyes, face). Second, the book is described as including lavish illustrations, and well, it just doesn’t. The illustrations are grayscale and small; and the artwork that is meant to be directive (e.g., hair styling techniques) not just decorative needs to be bigger. Finally, I just don’t get the type styling for the headers, page numbers, and other highlighted information. The style is consistent with the grayscale illustrations (i.e., suggesting that this is the intended style), but the resolution – which looks like it just emerged from a dot matrix printer – is oddly out of line with the quality of the content. (Note: the quality of the body text, however, is fine!)

Ultimately, I think Beauty Confidential is a fabulous resource. I just wish the above details were as perfectly polished as Haobsh’s Essie Mademoiselle coated nails likely are.


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