I blame Bunny! Or maybe I should be thanking her. My obsession with Bésame Cosmetics began when I watched her March Favourites YouTube Video where she raved about the French Vanilla Brightening Powder. As soon as she uttered those magic words, ‘retro inspired’ I was all over it. I’m ashamed to admit that I spent almost half an hour wallowing over the fact that I couldn’t get my hands on the range until finally common sense kicked in and a quick Google search told me there was an Australian based online store. Even better was fact that the Australian distributor was located right here in Adelaide. I didn’t waste any time, emailing right away to find out if I could meet with them and play with the products. Lucky for me the lovely Sandra D was happy to have me and on a beautiful sunny Autumn Saturday, Adrian and I went to learn all about Bésame Cosmetics.
Sandra runs the Australian division of Bésame Cosmetics from a picturesque old church which is located on her property in West Hindmarsh. The story of how she came to be the Australian distributor is like a dream come true. Not only am I in awe of her tale, I’m also incredibly envious. A vintage enthusiast for over thirty years and a hair and makeup artist, Sandra fell in love with Bésame when she discovered them through the online vintage community. The problem was that she couldn’t easily get a hold of the products. Being the entrepreneur that she is, and with experience as a salon owner, Sandra sent off an email to Bésame creator Gabriela Hernandez and waited with baited breath. Pretty soon she was jetting off to Los Angeles and would return to Adelaide as the official distributor for the Australian launch in 2012.
Bésame Cosmetics was created by artist, cosmetic historian, and designer Gabriela Hernandez after a life-long love affair with vintage beauty. At 12, Gabriela immigrated to the U.S. from Buenos Aires, always fascinated by her grandmother’s sophisticated beauty routine. She fully realized her passion for the creative arts with a fine art degree from Art Center in Pasadena, California, and became a photographer, art director, and published author (Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup, Schiffer). With her creative background, historical know-how, and cherished memories of her grandmother’s makeup, Gabriela finally developed the beauty brand of her dreams, filled with rich, historical details in wearable long-lasting formulas. She wanted Bésame to bring romance back into the makeup industry, allowing women to feel excited and passionate about their own beauty rituals again. About Us
The Bésame range is not overpopulated with an abundance of products, but rather focuses on the core items that would have graced the dressing tables of ladies from the 20s right through to the 60s. The formulations are based around the high quality recipes of the past but without nasties such as lead or parabens. The range includes lipsticks, foundation, face powders, mascara and rouge. Bésame is available at 35 stores across Australia and can also be purchased online at http://www.besamecosmeticsaustralia.com.au with shipping to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Undoubtedly the most recognisable Bésame product is their lipstick, complete with gold plated, bullet style packaging. Each colour is actually a reproduction of a real vintage lipstick. Gabriela trawls through vintage stores as a ‘makeup detective’, looking for beautiful old lipsticks and compacts which serve as muses for her own line of products. Each of the Bésame lipsticks is named after the year that inspired the colour, from 1920 Bésame Red, right through to 1963 Portrait Pink.
Another blast from the past are unique mascara formulations and applicators. Bésame makes three kinds of mascara, a cake mascara in brown or black, a cream mascara in a squeeze tube and a wand mascara. The 1930’s black mascara has the strangest brush I have ever seen. It doesn’t have bristles, but little tiny grooves in the plastic applicator. Sandra tells me that it’s perfect for getting right to the root of the lashes, and doesn’t poke you in the eye like some applicators can. The great thing about the cream mascara is that it can be used safely by makeup artists for lots of clients either by using disposable applicators or by washing the one that is included. As the brush does not enter the product it’s very hygienic.
Aside from the lipsticks, the one product that was top of my wishlist was the Violet Brightening powder. This loose powder has the most darling packaging and I’ve read really positive reviews about it’s mattifying properties and ability to brighten the under eye area. I can’t wait to get it home and give it a try. Did I mention that the packaging is so CUTE!?
The final thing that Sandra had to show me from the Bésame range, that is not yet available here in Australia, were the two new face brushes. The handle is designed to resemble brushes available to Hollywood makeup artists during the 1930s and I can tell you that the man-made fibre they use in these brushes is the softest thing I have ever felt. I probably held onto the smaller one for about ten minutes just stroking it, which I know is a bit creepy, but seriously they are just so soft. I’ll definitely be getting one when they hit our shores.
While Sandra and I were chatting about all things Bésame Adrian was roaming around her studio capturing all the wonderful antique items that were on display. Sandra has filled her space with treasures that she has collected from all over the world, purchasing her first antique item at the age of 11. She opens her studio by appointment and also takes hair and makeup bookings, usually charging around $50 for a session. Below are some of the incredible treasures she has collected over the years.
Makeup items from Hazel Bishop, Helena Rubinstein and Mary Quant.
Thank you to Sandra for generously hosting us! Keep up with the latest Bésame news here:
Stay tuned for part 2 to see what I purchased and a vintage makeup look in part 3!