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The Artifice of Beauty: A History and Practical Guide to Perfume and Cosmetics Hardcover – May 1, 2005


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The Artifice of Beauty: A History and Practical Guide to Perfume and Cosmetics + Beauty and Cosmetics 1550-1950 (Shire Library) + Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750938870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750938877
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sally Pointer combines an academic background in archaeology with a lifelong curiosity about how the everyday objects of the past were made and used. She lives in Mountain Ash, near Cardiff.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer A. Heise on December 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While there are many books out on cosmetics, perfumes, and the history of adornment, there has been a dearth of well-researched, modern historical and archaeological studies with practical information. Sally Pointer, from the National Museum and Gallery of Wales, has written a text that fills that gap admirably. The depth and accuracy of the research, and the scholarly discussion, in The Artifice of Beauty, is combined with the re-creation experiences of a skilled museum curator.

Anyone interested in researching and/or recreating fashion, material culture, or personal life in history should have this book in her or his library. Those interested in homemade cosmetics and perfumes will also find it very useful.

Pointer first lays out "The Nature of the Evidence" in her introduction, then tackles the various ages of humankind in nine chronological chapters. While none is completely exhaustive-- the beauty regimens of the nineteenth century alone have filled multiple shelves of books-- each chapter provides a good groundwork for understanding cosmetics, perfumes, and ideas of beauty in the period. Her strongest suit is in the early evidence, Ancient World and Classical world sections, but those areas have previously been the subject of much archaeology but little reliable summary. Her information about the medieval through the seventeenth centuries is a treasure trove of facts and quotations.

Of special interest is Pointer's analyses of possible make-up trends based on pictoral representations of people in the period. Were pink cheeks admired? Highly accented eyes? What color of hair was in fashion. Information about hairpieces and false hair, washes, soap and other cosmetic preparations are also included.
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By SJ Reidhead on December 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am working on a book about fashion, the sociology of fashion, and why women wore and do what they did about 100 years ago. This is a must-have research volume if you are interested in the history of cosmetics.
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By HEALTH NUT CHIC on August 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this book!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Melody Andrews on February 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is well researched and well written. It even contains recipes. As I am in a research and reenactment group, this has been a godsend. I am delighted with the professionalism of this book. I have to be careful every time I open it that I don't drool on it. GREAT BOOK!!
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