Lola Montez, one of the most opulent actresses and dancers of the 19th century, offers her advice on beauty oneself through cultivating physical charm, a debonair personality, and a sharp sense of style and dress.
Chapters focus on different aspects of feminine beauty; the face, skin, eyes, complexion and chest all receive examination. The hair is of particular concern to the author, with several chapters dedicated to boosting its allure, vigor and appearance. Lifestyle choices, such as getting plenty of sleep each night and maintaining a good figure, are also highlighted as keys for true and sustained beauty.
Despite the title, much of this book concerns cultivation of both character and social graces. Montez places emphasis on the need for good manners and refined behavior, and the value of charm and meaningful talk that is neither shallow nor empty. A well-modulated speaking voice, the choice of good jewelry, and a respectable dress sense are discussed for their importance.
Many of the beautifying solutions offered by Montez make use of chemicals which would be out of place in the modern makeup room or bathroom. Her terminology is also dated to her time, making it difficult in some cases to work out what exactly the ingredients are. Several concoctions however are benign and possess some validity as homemade substitutes to expensive and/or ineffectual cosmetics. Other advice - such as maintaining a healthy diet - is rightly seen by the author as useful in maintaining good looks.
The final part, consisting of fifty 'rules' or 'hints' to gentlemen, appears to be a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manual of charm for men. Jokes and gentle deceit (such as feigning association with the famous or high-placed) are encouraged, as is making effort to see a genuine interest in women's personality. Cultured conversation on interesting topics will, in Montez's view, maintain attraction more than trifling gossip.