Book Review: “Your Beauty Mark” by Dita Von Teese

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As a disciple of the Old Hollywood look–waved hair, red lips, cat eye, red nails–Dita Von Teese naturally holds great importance for me. Because let’s face it darlings: there just aren’t many modern-day followers of that great religion known as glamour. Not only is Dita an avid glamour-phile, she is basically the dictionary definition of the word. So when I heard that she was in the process of writing a beauty bible of sorts in 2013, I added the book to my Goodreads list and impatiently awaited its release. Entitled “Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour,” it promised secrets to gaining Dita’s beautiful skin, ageless appearance, and historically accurate look. Fast forward to December 1st, 2015, and I am racing into Barnes and Noble, picking up the copy I had reserved and holding back tears of joy. Fast forward two days after that, and I am face-to-face with The Teese herself, rendered an idiot thanks to her unreal beauty. She signed my book, signed a bookmark, complimented me on my outfit and half-moon manicure, and I raced off with the hugest grin on my face.

If you’ve never met Dita before, the answer is YES. She looks even better than she does in photos. I’m almost positive that minimal to no Photoshop is used on her glamour portraits. She just really, actually looks like that.

Well, onto the review!

“Your Beauty Mark” is HUGE. It is a 400 page coffee table-sized behemoth of all things vintage beauty. Not only are Dita’s voice and Mae West-esque sense of humor strongly present in every sentence, but she includes portions written by co-author Rose Apodaca, in addition to interviews with her friends (such as photographer Ali Mahdavi, eccentric style icon Catherine Baba, and perfume extraordinaire Douglas Little), her dermatologist, her nutritionist, hair styling legend Danilo, and even a Beverley Hills plastic surgeon. So for those who will undoubtedly say that Dita is “not a professional,” well, she backs up everything she says with the words of professionals. Bye haters!

The book covers a ton of topics, all equally important for the Old Hollywood look. They include:

  • skincare
  • nutrition and diet
  • fitness, complete with exercises
  • breast care and appearance
  • bathing and hygiene
  • body hair removal
  • perfume and the allure of scent
  • makeup, including tutorials
  • manicures and nail care
  • pedicures and foot care
  • hair care
  • vintage hairstyles and tutorials
  • hair dyeing
  • plastic surgery
  • showbiz makeup

The Positives

  • The book is comprehensive, covering more topics than I hadn’t expected to see at first. When I first heard of “Your Beauty Mark” back in 2013, I expected for it to be solely about hair and makeup. I found the skincare, nutrition, and fitness sections to be of the greatest importance to me. The section about perfume was also extremely interesting, and I absolutely enjoyed the last section, in which Dita discusses her makeup regimen for her burlesque shows.
  • Especially in the sections concerning makeup and skincare, Dita took great pains to include the needs of all skin types. As someone with oily skin, I appreciated the fact that she included lots of great tips for us oily-skinned folks, even though Dita herself does not have oily skin.
  • The exercises in the book are pilates, yoga, and ballet-based, and they rock! They promote a lean, long pinup figure as opposed to a muscular figure. I’ve been doing them for two weeks now and I’m feeling a difference.
  • Although it is corny and cliche, this book on the whole is inspirational. Time and time again, Dita encourages the reader to abandon the beige, abandon the all-natural, girl-next-door look, and embrace the artistic, the created, the glamorous look. She is a proponent of the idea that your face, your look, is a blank canvas. Inject as much personality as you’d like. As someone who is constantly hounded by my family to abandon the red lipstick and the sculpted vintage hair in favor of nude lipstick and straight hair, Dita’s message of extreme, created beauty is empowering. There is a quote in the book along the lines of: “Let them live in their boring beige movie. I want Technicolor!” Well said, Dita!
  • Dita sprinkles the book with often-hilarious personal anecdotes. Not only is she smart, artistic, talented, and beautiful, she’s funny too.

The Negatives

  • For those of us that have been playing around with the Old Hollywood look for a long time, like myself, some of the information can seem a tad repetitive. However, this is great for those of you who are just getting into this look.
  • I have long hair (halfway between my shoulders and elbows). Therefore, I found that a lot of the hairstyles won’t really work for those of us with hair past shoulder length. Almost all require using hot rollers (which can be very tricky to use on long hair), and my favorite style, a curly pileup a la Betty Grable, will never work for hair my length.
  • Aaaand that’s about it. Honestly there isn’t much wrong with this book!

Overall, this book gets a 4.5/5 stars from me. It’s a beauty bible worth displaying in a prime spot on your beauty bookshelf, whether you are seasoned in the art of glamour or just starting out.

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