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While working on her book, “Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup,” Bésame Cosmetics founder Gabriela Hernandez stumbled upon some intriguing facts. Among them were that women in 1643 wore partial leather masks to protect themselves from the sun; that mascara in the Twenties resembled a lifesaver-sized roll of wax, which users sliced, melted and then applied with a stick, and that the 1938 introduction of open-toed shoes sparked the advent of toenail painting.
This story first appeared in the October 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s amazing how long women have been concerned with their appearance,” says Hernandez, who spent hours in the Max Factor Museum in Hollywood and at the library of the Makeup Artists & Hair Stylists Guild researching the tome. “The reasons might have changed, but being attractive to the opposite sex has been at the core of beautifying rituals since our early ancestors painted their bodies with ochre powders.”
Originally from Buenos Aires, Hernandez says as a little girl, she’d marvel at her glamorous grandmother’s beauty routine. “It was a time when women enjoyed getting ready,” says Hernandez. “It wasn’t a chore.”
Her seven-year-old brand Bésame, now available in over 15 countries, was designed to reflect the romance and detail Hernandez believes cosmetics had in decades past.“Newer isn’t always better,” says the entrepreneur, who is also inspired by her own personal collection of vintage cosmetics from around the world.
Available this month on Amazon.com, Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup features makeup application guides, historical timelines, retro advertisements, profiles of product innovations and an array of vintage color palettes.
“The book is a bird’s eye overview of every decade—how makeup influenced different areas of the world and how that is tied to what was happening at the time,” says Hernandez.