Other than my features, something else I’ve inherited from my father is my love for a good book. As a child I would steal his books on just about everything from East African politics to encyclopaedia’s and deem them my bedtime stories. 9 year old Hafsa would also take her mother’s beauty books from the late 80’s and 90’s – that’s where it all began. Despite the now outdated advice, I learned all about the manicure and frosted lipstick from my mother’s books. I was 16 and in a Dubai bookshop when she bought me my first Bobbi Brown book, and I’ve since acquired many more for my coffee table such as Pretty Powerful, Francois Nars’ Makeup Your Mind Express Yourself and Makeup Is Art by Jana Ririnui and Lan Nguyen. The latest addition to my coffee table, Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest, is somewhat different to the previously mentioned books - there are no glossy images, smoke and mirrors, instead what you have is a book armed with simple, honest advice.. beauty without the marketing nonsense.
Already being a reader of Sali Hughes‘ Guardian column I find her writing style to be straightforward and refreshing, but also rather friendly. The advice is timeless, mainly because Hughes covers topics that women will want to know throughout time such as teen beauty and how a bride can look great on her big day, but also because there aren’t any product reviews – the internet is a great medium for news and reviews due to its dynamic and ever evolving nature, but it’s not so with books. I’ve flicked through many a beauty book to find specific mentions and reviews of a product only to later find that it’s been discontinued or the formula has changed. Hughes on the other hand chooses to mention general brands she finds are great for products such as Mario Badescu, Clarins and Pixi being great for liquid exfoliants and NARS, Guerlain and Rimmel for bronzers perfect on women of colour.
Referring back to the so-called print vs. online dichotomy, Hughes proves that the two can come together by recommending beauty blogs and other online beauty resources thus making Pretty Honest a beauty book of our time and definitely nothing like my mother’s old books. Moreover, with chapters dedicated entirely to red lipstick, the Little Black Dress of beauty, and beauty during sickness (very few consider the therapeutic effect that self-care can have when one is faced with ill health) Hughes’ book is a game changer if I’m pretty honest.