THE theme of “About Face,” the 240-page coffee table book that features 20 dramatic makeovers and goes on sale this month ($25), is that beauty should be used for “purpose instead of for vanity’s sake,” said its author, Scott Barnes, in a recent interview.

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The new book by Scott Barnes.

Delaney & Gitte

WORKING IT The makeup artist Scott Barnes emphasizes the power of beauty in his new book.

Mr. Barnes, a makeup artist who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others, cited the Old Testament story of Queen Esther as an example of the power of beauty. Esther, an orphaned Jewish peasant, learned how to embellish her looks in the court of King Ahasuerus of Persia, also known as Xerxes. She was ultimately selected as his queen. “Her beauty saved a race of people,” he said, as he described her role in halting a planned massacre of Persia’s Jews.

The idea of using beauty for the greater good is consistent throughout the project. “Every celebrity I chose for the book has a foundation or is involved in a foundation,” said Mr. Barnes, who selected 4 celebrities and 16 women who aren’t famous to make over for the book, including Katherine Albrecht, a privacy expert and activist, and the actress Mariska Hargitay, who started the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports survivors of sexual assault.

Looking good brings respect, Mr. Barnes said. “You show up in nice clothing at the airport and they’re nice to you,” he said. “You show up in sweats and they’re like, ‘The kiosk is over there.’ ”

Mr. Barnes, who trained as a painter at Parsons, got his start in makeup mixing raw pigments. “I started working with them just like I used to mix all my oil paints in a grinding glass,” he said. Soon, Julianne Moore was requesting a jar. Then Lucy Liu, then Jennifer Lopez. From there his makeup career soared.

Although Mr. Barnes doesn’t run a foundation himself, he is working to establish one for melanoma. Mr. Barnes, who is renowned for playing light off the skin, and whose shimmering lotion, Body Bling, is popular among celebrities, had a younger brother, John, who died of melanoma at age 30. The book is dedicated to him.

Sign in to Recommend Next Article in Fashion & Style (16 of 18) » A version of this article appeared in print on January 7, 2010, on page E3 of the New York edition.

Interesting concept. Leaves me to wonder if it is really possible to remove the personal reward of power one receives for being beautiful to the degree required to achieve an ultimate good purpose? I like the concept but not quite convinced most humans would be able to accomplish this.

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