Classic Beauty by Bésame Cosmetics

Classic beauty, undoubtedly, will never go out of style. The beautiful and historically accurate products of Bésame Cosmetics proves this. Founded by Gabriela Hernandez in 2004, the brand is currently going through a brand new refresh (with a new logo!), so this is a very exciting time for devotees of the brand. Make sure to check out her website often and see what is in stock and see if there are new products, too! Bésame is famous for its Limited Release Collections. Past collaborations have included Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Sleeping Beauty, and Marilyn Monroe. Keep an eye out for future collections! These are truly special. Additionally, the signature products are also very complementary to the limited release collections, so you can mix and match all of your products.

In a similar vein as the old adage by Yves Saint Laurent, “Fashion fades, style is eternal,” there are similar ideas which remain exceptionally classic, yet youthful. The best part of this particular makeup brand is that it is very adaptable to the makeup routine you already have. You can go as deep as you want in finding specific color shades to a certain decade and create your own ways of using the products in your routine. Additionally, you can learn about the history of makeup while using these products (cake mascara in a tin based on one from 1920 is classic indeed) or the exact colors worn by Marilyn Monroe!

In the photos above, I am including products that I have found most enticing for my own use and learning. With regards to the packaging, every single product by Bésame is made exceptionally well! You truly cannot go wrong — go for the shades that immediately speak to you. I would recommend use the website’s lipstick finder quiz to ensure you are picking a shade of red that could optimally complement you or what you are looking for – i.e. reds or pinks or plums (and it always lands me on my two favorite shades, so I know that quiz is spot on!) The packaging is historically accurate, collectable, and these are all high-quality cosmetics: sustainably made in California, cruelty free, and woman owned. Of all of the products I have tried, my all-time favorites are as follows:

  • Lipstick in Red Hot Red from 1959 (this is a shade from their limited edition Marilyn Monroe collection and I will elaborate more on here)

  • Signature Refillable Compact with Silver Screen Shimmer (1955) pressed powder (another shade from the Marilyn Monroe collection; you can also choose blush products and an assortment of pressed powder options)

  • Crimson Cream Rouge from 1938 (a buildable cream rouge which you can also use as a lip color)

  • Decades of Fragrance: 1940 Perfume (this is a scent nicknamed “The Bombshell,” and has top notes of rose and citrus, with a base note of sandalwood. This scent is accurate to scents worn in the 40s, and I think it is a sophisticated, timeless scent; you can also buy mini samples to find the perfect decade choice for you)

Left image – from top to bottom: Forever Red; Cherry Red; Red Hot Red; Victory Red / Right image: Limited Edition Disney Villains collection Ursula lipstick

Since I am an avid fan in learning facts about the early years of Marilyn Monroe’s life, I have found distinct connection points between the colors and shades of the early – mid 1940s (my favorite era) that can also be visible in the shades of red lipstick that Marilyn wore in her early modeling days for the Blue Book Agency from 1945-1946. Those early years of her modeling career also line up with WWII and how Americans were involved in the war effort at that time (including Marilyn, who worked in a military factory before she plucked out for a modeling opportunity). A note of contention in Marilyn’s life was when her husband decided to join the Merchant Marine and to her chagrin, she was mortified with the idea that he might leave her forever as a result of deployment (this deeper fear likely stemmed from having felt abandoned too often in her youth). To that end, this was the beginning of the end of her first marriage. For me, I am particularly intrigued by the work of Bruno Bernard, one of the first photographers of Norma Jean. He pioneered pin-up photography and was essential in the beginnings of her success in Hollywood.

Notably, glamour, lipstick, Hollywood, and WWII all have cohesive connection points. This is most likely why the 1940s are such a compelling time to me. In addition to Marilyn’s emergence, Rita Hayworth’s career in the 1940’s was at its height (Gilda came out in 1946 and had Americans smitten). Between Marilyn and Rita, they were the faces of comfort during a war. In addition to war-time distinction, there is the compelling narrative of how red lipstick shades changed during that time. Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jean Dougherty), married James Dougherty on June 19, 1942. Their marriage lasted four years (from 1942 – 1946), which I reflected on in my prior blog post, The Lost Potential of Norma Jean Dougherty. Norma Jean began her modeling career wearing red lipsticks as her staple in 1946, most likely best depicted by “Victory Red” (1941) or “American Beauty” (1945) lipsticks. Later, the shade of “Red Hot Red” (1959) would be the ruby red signature that we all know worn on Marilyn! There was not a single photoshoot during those early modeling years where she was not seen wearing red lipstick. No matter the shade, red lipstick remained unwaveringly. Red lipstick is likely the most important cosmetic there could be and Bésame Cosmetics presents this concept with historical accuracy.

Source on Marilyn Monroe: To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie by Jim Dougherty (2000)

All images by Bianca

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