The Natural Beauty Book, by Anne Akers Johnson

We here at Wordcandy love Klutz books. This line of easy-to-follow, intelligently packaged how-to books has been breaking down a variety of kid-friendly subjects—everything from simple embroidery to building solar-powered toy cars—since the 1970s. One of their most recent publications focuses on a subject near and dear many tween (and teen, and adult) girls' hearts: beauty products.

Klutz's Natural Beauty Book features more than 60 all-natural recipes for pampering the hands, hair, face, and body. The book comes with a “complete home spa kit” containing a loofah, headband, nail file, nail brush, buffer, pumice stone, muslin bag, and two different essential oils. Author Anne Akers Johnson also tosses in some general skin care advice and instructions for testing product safety*.

In an effort to provide our readers with the most accurate information, we enlisted a real live 13-year-old to help us try out these recipes, and the experience was a resounding success. Our youthful tester really enjoyed directing us through the various facial steams, masks, and scrubs. (She got bossier as the afternoon rolled on: “It says ten minutes! I don't care if it's oozing into your ears! Keep that mask on!”) We made an almond-rosewater facial scrub, steamed our faces over bowls of hot lavender-scented water, slopped on apple-oatmeal masks, and finished up with spritzes of citrus toner. We all had a tremendous amount of fun, the kid wanted to know if she could come back the next weekend and bring friends, and it's even possible that our skin looked better when we were finished.

We have a few words of warning before you run out and buy this book, though, particularly if you're giving it as a gift:

  1. Making this stuff is messy. Our kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it, and we went through every dishtowel in the house. This is not the book to give to a child with hyper-anal parents.

  2. Making this stuff requires additional ingredients. These recipes feature everything from honey to eggs to Epsom salts, so if you're giving this book as a present, you might want to include a small gift certificate to a grocery or drug store.

  3. Making this stuff uses a lot of tools. The apple mask we made required a coffee grinder and a sturdy cheese grater. Not everyone has access to these appliances, so you'd be smart to ask first.
If the above conditions are acceptable, however, we'd recommend this book in a heartbeat. Young girls are going to love it, and it has plenty to offer adult women, too. (It would make a great basis for a recession-friendly bachelorette party, for example.) Actually, our biggest complaint about this how-to guide is that Klutz hasn't produced more books about subjects relevant to our grown-up lives, because you know what? The world could totally use The Klutz Book of Retirement Planning.

*Which they obviously had to include for legal reasons, even though the instructions are ridiculous. Trust us: no red-blooded kid on God's green earth is going to mix up one of these potions, apply it to their inner arm, cover it with a band-aid, and then wait 24 hours to see if a reaction occurs.

This review is based on an unsolicited review copy provided by the publisher.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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