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Thank goodness for Kevyn Aucoin. He is the first make-up artist to do not only a readable book about applying make-up, but a sweet, endearing and understandable one too. It's almost too much.

In his introduction to Making Faces, which went straight to the top of the US non-fiction book chart last month, Aucoin says he hates the words "acceptable" and "normal". He also strongly believes there are no rules to applying make-up; we have to find our own way, just as he did.

Aucoin spent his childhood using his little sister, Carla, as a model. We see her aged four, eight, 10, 12 and 14, transformed by her brothers' deft hand. Today Aucoin is regarded as one of the best make-up artists in the world, despite his lack of formal training. Models swear by him, so do movie stars and Everywoman, which is no doubt why this new book has been so popular in the States. He shows us every kind of make-up technique in the book, and it is visually demonstrated on Julia Roberts, Gena Rowlands, Tina Turner, teenagers and even a transvestite, with "how to" pictures, text, and handy tips.

The single most important thing that comes across from this book is that make-up, applied correctly, is one of the most powerful tools a woman can have. He shows us Sandy, a fiftysomething black woman, whom he turns from a Cleo Laine lookalike into Diana Ross. He shows us 44-year-old Catherine, whose severe look he softens, and in the process makes appear 10 years younger. He also demonstaretes the power of a make-up as a transformer, with Drew Barrymore as a convincing Marlene Dietrich, and Isabella Rossellini as Barbra Streisand.

Basically, this is a make-up book for people who are scared of make-up, but don't want to be. Even I discovered the correct way to pluck my eyebrows.

Melanie Rickey