Between my love for vintage glamour and my love for plants and making my own products, I look at a LOT of different sources for ideas and inspiration. These are the ones that I find myself picking up over and over again, especially when I need a fresh dose of inspiration.
I recently acquired a copy of this book and was surprised at how utterly absorbing Shiva Rose’s approach to beauty, spirituality and lifestyle has been for me. She takes an Ayurvedic approach to her beauty and self-care routines, having been a practitioner of Kundalini for many years. Many of the holistic beauty books use Ayurvedic principles, but Shiva Rose very clearly lives these practices in her daily life, and has manifested her recipes, recommendations, lifestyle, and beauty company from these deeply rooted principles. You can feel this all through the book. The photography is beautiful, unassuming, and full of authenticity. You are entering her world every time you crack it open. She introduced me to ingredients that I had never heard of, and I’ve already tried some of them with happy results. This is really more of a lifestyle book than an herbal beauty book, which is why I keep opening it up. Shiva Rose gently shares her values, her rituals, her routines, and her passions, and I love every page. I studied Ayurveda when I was doing my Naturopathic training, and this made me want to dive back in.
I LOVE Dita Von Teese! On the surface, you’d think she was entirely different from someone like Shiva Rose, but quite the contrary. They are both women who buck convention, embrace who they are wholeheartedly, and use this to inspire and encourage other women to embrace their beauty. I adore a self-made woman who is unapologetically true to who she is. Dita’s book is full of absolutely gorgeous photography, another one that I just have to pick up and thumb through for inspiration. Dita is a master at presenting herself as her own artistic muse – every photo is GLORIOUS. She discusses all of her regimens and routines, this being as much a lifestyle as beauty book (like above). She is openly transparent about her use of plastic surgery and other procedures. While I am more in the crunchy beauty camp and wouldn’t necessarily make the same choices (to each their own), my love of red lipstick and old Hollywood glamour keeps me coming back to Dita. She is very disciplined about her self-care, and I really appreciate her balanced approach between the natural and conventional when it comes to skin care and makeup. Her interview with her dermatologist was a high point for me. Sometimes the less natural choice is what’s best at the time. It’s good to have all the tools in our tool belts. A truly integrative approach that’s refreshing.
Nadine Artemis is the queen of essential oils and natural beauty. Her holistic dental care book was a game-changer for me, so I was excited when she came out with her beauty book. Like above, this book is yet another labor of love by a woman who is living from her soul and true calling. The book is delightfully autobiographical, highly educational, and treasure trove of excellent information. It is almost like a textbook in its own way, covering more than just beauty, but other aspects of balanced self-care from a holistic perspective. There aren’t a ton of recipes, but I really loved the ones included. They were unique – not just a reworking of the same stuff you find online. However, the recipes tend to use pricier ingredients like blue tansy, immortelle and rose essential oils, which was fine by me. I really wasn’t looking for step-by-step instructions. I was looking for inspiration, as well a resource I could consult that comes from true first-hand expertise and study, not just someone who has read other people’s blogs and books and made a few recipes. I wanted to deepen my experience of plant essences and learn from someone who is gifted and experienced in this area. This book delivered.
I found this book at a used book store, while trying to find an encyclopedia of essential oils. Elana Millman trained with Nadine Artemis, and I learned a lot from her about the world of fragrance. I now understand what a top note, middle note and base note are (not musical). I also learned a great deal about which essential oils tend to fall into which categories, which has made creating my own formulas much more effective and enlightening. I have always been intimidated by essential oils and suddenly I’m obsessed with them, finally stepping out of my comfort zone. There are actually quite a few recipes/suggestions for combinations for beauty, massage, and more. This has been an invaluable guide for helping me create my own formulas, and I’m growing in my own product-making abilities. This book is as practical as it is beautiful to browse through.
Okay, so this is not necessarily a beauty book, but the 1940s are my absolutely favorite era of fashion. This book is full of beautiful photographs from the era, and is an endless source of inspiration for beauty looks. It is also a fabulous resource to understand the history of fashion in this era. You really can’t study fashion history without going into the politics, societal attitudes and economics of that era, because people’s choices are intimately linked to what’s happening in the world around them. This is why I love this era – women took charge on the home front during the war, and fashions reflected that. American designers were on the forefront, since Paris was occupied, and designs needed to allow women to really move and be free. Shoulders were strong, waistlines were narrow, and silhouettes reflected a brilliant blend of confidence and femininity. Trousers became commonplace, as menswear was cut down to fit women’s physiques. I was fascinated to discover that Dior’s New Look, launched in 1947, was actually protested by many women around the globe (literal protests!) because of the changing role that it represented for many women, who had found empowerment in their wartime roles and considered the new styles to be incredibly wasteful. They were not ready to be re-corseted and forced into voluminous skirts and rendered homebound. The section on German fashion during the war was also eye-opening. All nerdiness aside, I just love sitting and looking at the pictures over and over for fashion inspo. If you have a favorite era, I highly recommend adding a book like this to your collection for deeper connection to the era and creative inspiration.
I can’t wait to see what else comes my way!