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The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World Without Concealer-- And Learned to Love the Real Me
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The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World Without Concealer-- And Learned to Love the Real Me

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  272 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
"I looked at my reflection and despaired. As an exhausted young mother I felt ugly and saw that a new dress or face cream would never help. I was at risk of passing on a habit of feeling miserable about my looks to my baby girl--if nothing changed." Soon afterward Phoebe Baker Hyde made a vow: to give up new clothes, makeup, haircuts, and jewelry in hopes of revealing some ...more
Published December 25th 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published December 13th 2011)
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2.5 stars

I was disappointed in this book because I had hoped it would delve more deeply into the beauty behaviors that are expected of women and how our appearance is linked to our self-esteem, and there was some of that, but overall the writing was shallow. I think part of the problem is that Phoebe did this experiment back in 2007 when she and her husband were living in Hong Kong, but she didn't write the book until 2011-2012, so her memory isn't as clear as it might have been if she had done
Dec 19, 2011 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could be interesting. Could I do this? Go without my perm, hair color, blush, eyebrow pencil, and, OMG!, lipstick--or at least gloss???

Update: Not quite as interesting as I thought it would be. A little too much hyperbole and inner introspection that was a little over the top, plus I'm not nearly into as much grooming and make-up applications as she was but it gave me few things to think about.
Jan 09, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so irritated by this book. I love reading books about people who do weird things in the name of personal growth (and yes, not shaving for a year and walking around with holes in your shoes, as this woman did, strikes me as weird.) However, this woman clearly has some unresolved issues that have nothing to do with her rejection of beauty and style. Most of the book is about her dissatisfaction with her life as an expat SAHM to a toddler in Hong Kong with a largely absent husband, which is r ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Audrey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. The author is a narcissist with low self esteem and bad taste. She is constantly seeking validation and spends a lot of time just obsessed with herself. If I didn't have tom read this for book group, I would have dumped it.
Jan 18, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by saying I am the antithesis of who this book is intended for. I don't read non-fiction, especially memoir. I am purely a fiction reader. I also would have realistically given it 2.4 stars, based on the writing alone. I think Phoebe is a phenomenal writer. The Beauty Experiment had a great voice and some hilarious descriptions like, "it was a Disneyland for women of good taste." And some insightful thoughts like, "we're either too young to know what we have or too old to have it an ...more
Maureen Flatley
I expected this to be far more interesting than it was. Once you get the basic premise there are only so many ways to say I'm not wearing makeup. It is provocative in some ways though so it may be of interestl
Amy Elizabeth
I wanted this to be so much better than it was. It was a good idea, but set in Hong Kong and full of such whiny self loathing I could not enjoy her story.
Jessica Lu
The author, an expatriate housewife, was relocated in Hong Kong with a newborn baby. The book was her self-reflecting record of a one-year no-beauty experiment there and 4 years later after she returned back to the US.
The best part of the book is her realization of her “childish”, “rebelling”, “protest” and “strike” on doing make-up and dressing up.

Although I was annoyed by her writing style, self-importance, snobby self-consciousness and negativity (even the post experiment part), I finished th
Ashley Kennedy
Apr 28, 2013 Ashley Kennedy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I read this book as a requirement for my Psychology of Women course. I really loved Baker Hyde's writing style. She was very descriptive, and allowed the reader to feel as though they were experiencing the journey with her. As for the subject matter, I found it intriguing. I admired her for taking such a huge step that drastically changed her life and took her out of her comfort zone. She often discussed an inner voice, that was very critical of anything that walked, and I found her a bit dramat ...more
Jan 31, 2013 Annie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for my book club, and the title itself was intriguing. I was looking forward to reading it, and unfortunately the only reason I finished it is from book club obligation. I still look forward to reading a book that actually adresses what the title implies, because this one does not. Phoebe Baker Hyde has self esteem issues that she tries to blame on an obsession with beauty products and clothes. The book is mostly her rambling about why she isn't happy, and rather than facing her ...more
Lisa Hacker
Yet another navel-gazing memoir. Similar to Eat, Pray, Love in that I mostly finished it to read about her experience living in a foreign culture, but without the thorough research that redeemed Gilbert's work. I gave Hyde an extra star because she does have writing talent, the book is quite readable, but there's no real substance. At the end of her experiment, Hyde admits that she doesn't have much to say, yet proceeds to write a book about it anyway. I honestly wish she had done more reading a ...more
May 02, 2013 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! While at times the author is a little melodramatic and gets a little too much into the sociological stuff, this was a great read. Even more special for me was the way it so closely reflected my three years in Hong Kong as an expat spouse, just like the author. So many of her experiences rang true for me that I wondered if I had perhaps met her somewhere! Definitely made me think about how I approach beauty and the messages we send.
Mar 26, 2015 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by the title and thought I'd find something more to this book but I was sadly let down. Maybe it's because I'm not much of a makeup person, because I couldn't give a rat's behind about fashion...or mostly because other people's opinions of me aren't ranked all that high on my lists of things to worry about....this book just seemed like a great waste of time. Also, she whines A LOT.
joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire*
she's as crazy as i am!
Lili Ruff
Apr 22, 2013 Lili Ruff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phoebe Baker Hyde, mother, wife and author gives you a chance to look
within while reading about someone else’s very candid self-discovery. A young
mom, living in not only a state other than her sunny California, but transported to
the other side of the earth. Hyde weaves a tale of introspective narrative through the busy streets of Hong Kong.

This cleverly written book calls to women of all ages, shapes, shades and sizes. For
every mother out there who has felt the weight of sleep deprivation, piled
This book is supposed to be about the author's attempt to give up makeup and all beauty things/new clothes/etc. for about a year and learn from it. It started years ago, when she, an American, was living in Singapore with her husband and new baby. They were there for her husband's job and she was having a hard time with him always working, being in a new spot with a new person to care for. Only telling her husband, she gives up all things beauty (even chopping off her hair). Later, they go back ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-2016
I really enjoyed this book. I bought it on impulse because it was 70p in the Kindle store, but I think it's worth much more and the author's really being shortchanged here.

'The Beauty Experiment' is only partly about the experiment: it's about the writer's experiences of and around the experiment, and the difficulties of being a new mother and an expat in Hong Kong. This is a memoir, not an in-depth social analysis - if you want that, read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.

Baker-Hyde writes in a ver
This book is an incredibly real, probing look into the life of a lonely, expatriate woman dealing with the struggles of first time motherhood almost completely on her own. Looking at the lipstick adorned cover of The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker-Hyde I expected a cliché tale of a beauty queen gone bare only to discover she was beautiful the whole time- on the inside. I was both pleasantly surprised and somewhat dissatisfied when reading the book didn’t leave me- or the author- with the conc ...more
Katie Miner
Apr 22, 2013 Katie Miner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For one whole year, Phoebe Baker Hyde did the unthinkable; she gave up makeup, hair care and fashion. Baker Hyde chronicles her barefaced journey in the memoir “The Beauty Experiment.”

Baker Hyde, an expatriate living in Hong Kong with a new baby and an always-working husband, struggles with her lack of self-esteem and the effects it will have on her daughter. She undergoes a yearlong beauty product-free experiment as a journey of personal development and discovery.

Her memoir is never preachy,
Apr 17, 2013 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Beauty Experiment, written by Phoebe Baker Hyde, is a book dedicated to telling the story of one woman’s journey through self-discovery. She went a year without doing any of her normal beautification routines. This included make-up application, hair styling, and hair removal.
The story begins with Hyde living in Hong Kong with her family and realizing that her confidence is encompassed with her looks and how people perceive her appearance. She begins her experiment to see the impact it has o
Jordan Callahan
Apr 15, 2013 Jordan Callahan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In "The Beauty Experiment," Phoebe Baker Hyde asks herself: what would a year without makeup and fashion be like? Challenging this thought, Hyde embarks on a journey in quest for her inner beauty, letting go of makeup and fashion of all forms. After her stunning holiday dress fails her, showcasing only her insecurities, Hyde puts her foot down and vows to change her lifestyle. Hyde's ultra-beauty cleanse meant stripping down to the nitty-gritty causes of her lack of confidence. Filled with heart ...more
“The Beauty Experiment” by Phoebe Baker Hyde is an insightful look into the logic, or illogic, of makeup and fashion. Hyde describes the daily struggle of finding her own beauty without the aid of makeup or fashionable clothing as she spends a year without either. Sparked by the disappointment of her search for a “Red Hot” party dress; Hyde takes on the fashion and shopping-devoted Hong Kong with nothing but her current wardrobe and hand lotion smelling vaguely of bathroom cleaner. No days off o ...more
Brenna Lyden
Mar 30, 2013 Brenna Lyden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In “The Beauty Experiment,” Phoebe Baker Hyde forgoes the fake-face – which most of us consider a social normalcy and in she sets out to find the real beauty that lies within not only herself, but also the entirety of her dramatically changing life. Hyde is grippingly raw in her expedition to obtain peace with the skin she’s in and silence her antagonistic inner voice. Her refreshingly real tale of a woman seeking to confront her appearance-related anxieties is told through a sundry of sarcastic ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Nyobi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be an inspiration to women that are consumed with a variety of beauty products. Baker Hyde can be a role model for women through this book. It explains her emotions throughout the process and how she overcomes obstacles. This can help women who are emotionally and mentally consumed with beauty products. The book is full of surveys taken by men and women based on how beauty products affect their lives. Personally, this book became frustrating when I realized there was not an exact a ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Tabitha rated it liked it
I greatly respect the author's honesty, but I have mixed feelings about the story. I began with high hopes, then felt disappointed, and then started enjoying the book much more about 3/4 the way through.

The idea was compelling but somehow the memoir of the experiment felt incomplete. It was hard not to feel frustrated with Hong Kong Phoebe for dwelling on herself so much. She wanted to be a "good person" and implemented some Zen Buddhist methods but it was hard to understand what her motivation
Jun 16, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
the majority of this book I didn't love. I thought it was another angry rant fest against anything feminine. however the author finished the book showing what she had learned and how it had changed her. it was a better and more positive read than "Cinderella ate my daughter." I read the reviews below and noted that women in general dislike hearing the negative inner voice that this women wrote about. but don't we all have it? It isn't pretty to admit to having an ugly side but I enjoyed that the ...more
I found the book interesting but at times the thoughts of the author seemed confused and a bit all over the place. Though it seems like that was how she felt with the experiment and why she decided to do the experiment in the first place. I can relate as a new mother being frustrated with the reality and what you thought being very different and can't imagine having to go through this in a new country with no family or close friends (though she did meet a group of people as time progressed).
Kellie Bush
I was intrigued by the concept of this book, however I feel some of her 'before' writings had a bit of a negative impact on me. While I like to maintain a certain level of appearance for work, I don't recall ever looking in the mirror as much as she described. Her dedication to checking her reflection made me begin to doubt my appearance and worry I should be more vigilant. In the end I have already stripped down my routine to a manageable enough level to where the book provides no significant r ...more
Alisa Kester
Aug 16, 2013 Alisa Kester rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book made me realize how happy I am NOT to have any of these beauty issues. Wow. It reminds me of a co-worker of mine a number of years ago. She was too busy to put on foundation one morning, and came into work without it. She made herself crazy all morning talking about how horrible she looked, and skipped lunch to run home and put it on. I honestly couldn't see any difference before and after!

The author of this book had much the same experience. No one really noticed anything she was doin
Oct 07, 2014 Sunny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was not what I expected. It seemed to be more about the author's self esteem (or lack thereof) and difficulty in adjusting to new motherhood and an expatriate life than about the impact of living in an image-obssessed world while ignoring image entirely. It seemed to hold the possibility of insight, but the end left me wondering what the author really learned other than that she needed to eliminate serious anxiety and discontent from her life.
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The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde 1 4 Apr 22, 2013 11:41AM  
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Phoebe Baker Hyde grew up on a guest ranch in Arizona, and in addition to being an author she's been a caterer, a waitress, a shoe saleswoman, an after-school educator, a ghostwriter, a copyeditor and a proofreader. She wears less makeup than she did before her experiment but loves the artistry of clothing and jewelry more.
More about Phoebe Baker Hyde...

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