Since 1920 we have been talking the suffrage movement, in short it is about obtaining the rights for women: the right to vote, the right to cut their hair, to work. Indeed, their situation has been democratized, so to speak. Having their money that they no longer had to spend on subsistence, some of this women chose to spend it on cosmetics. Makeup was no longer forbidden, immoral.
One of the pioneers of makeup is Max Factor. A Polish man of origin who worked for the Tsar of Russia for a long time. However, due to many restriction from the Tsar, he decided to emigrate to the United States. At the time base, Max Factor took care of production of wigs and later started to produce cosmetics.
At the time the cinema (black & white), silent movies as we all know, was quite chromatically distorted. His job was to study the colours and their way of transposing on the camera and to come up with new cosmetics that would offer the correct transposition of colours on the camera. He was also the one who claimed that women can look better wearing certain colours, depending on their skin tone, hair colour. For example, he claimed that blondes look better in blue, redheads look better in green and so on. And I don’t think he was far from the truth.
Another pioneer of makeup was Helena Rubinstein, also a Polish origin and born in the same year as Max Factor, in 1872. She came from a poor and large family. Because at that time the girls’ mission was to get married well, her mother applied a kind of winter moisture to her and her 8 sisters. That’s how the girls kept their skin clean and bright even in winter. And she decided to emigrate. In the first phase she moved to Vienna, and from Vienna she emigrated to Australia, to an uncle’s farm.
Because the Australian women admire the look of this Helena, she is thinking of opening a business with the moisture she knew from her mom. She is the one who introduced the concept of skin type. She was a marketing genius, she came up with some great ideas using what we can call negative advertising. Speculating a women’s fear of ageing and their desire for eternal youth, she created cosmetics that promised eternal youth. She also speculated on the idea of ” keep your husband by your side” which meant to be this charming woman. And he will love you forever.
I would say that for that time, this were some innovative ideas. Especially since we are talking about the era in which this advertising appeared. The moisture I’m talking about was called Valaze. And now there are a lot of her cosmetics but I am not familiar with them.
More familiar with the products are those of Elisabeth Arden. And she also started on the skin care side. Originally Canadian, her initial name was Florence, she was born around the same time with Max Factor and Helena Rubinstein. Because she lied a lot about her date of birth, this is somehow uncertain. At the age of 16, she emigrated from Canada and moved to New York, working as a cashier to a hair salon. There she meets a lady named Elisabeth, who owns a small business with care products. With this Elisabeth started a business but unfortunately this Elisabeth dies and our Florence takes her name. She used her last name Arden with Elisabeth, the name of the deceased, to create the name of the super well-known brand today.
In the ’30s she made a trip to Europe, more precisely to France, where she “stole” as much information from Europeans as possible. She analyzes them very well, observes their care routine; noticed that at the time women wore red lipstick, blush on their cheeks, makeup a little stronger. Once back in America, she takes these teachings and markets them to American women. She was super careful with the products she sells and personally took care of the training of each employee.
Another name that is sure to be familiar to you and that started with more luxurious products is Revlon. Of course, now the products have more affordable prices, the foundation is still very good. The founder of this brand was actually named Charles Revson. At one point he had a pretty nice reply:” In the factory we make cosmetics. In the shop we sell hope.” This Mr. Revson was in a constant war with the two ladies listed above, especially the two ladies between them had a fierce war.
The Revlon brand appeared primarily as a nail polish manufacturer. Starting with the ’30s we can already talk about nail colouring. The two ladies also called him The Nail Man, somehow the lower social class, in their mentality. He is the one who gave birth to a trend, in the ’40s, to match your nails with the lipstick. Also in the ’40s he created very colourful lipsticks. He is also the first to invest large amount of money in TV advertising. In 1960 Revlon was the most successful brand.
The last pioneer we are talking about and who still function as an empire today is Estée Lauder. It is a luxury brand, first of all. Her original name was Josephine Esther. Estée is a variation of her name and Lauder is the last name of her first husband. From the very beginning she wanted to sell luxury products to rich women who want the best. She has invested heavily in packaging. In the first years the marketing was done in very calm colours, she didn’t insisted on who know what crazy things, with a jovial side. It was not addressed to a young audience but went directly focused on women with money, purchasing power, sophisticated, refined, who know they could afford what was best at the time.
She started around the age of 16, when she produced moistures and in 1930 she started investing in packaging. Her products were sold only in expensive boutiques. She spent a lot of time with the employees. She put a lot of emphasis on this, she was very attentive to every detail. She made sure to know every person she hired. Moreover, she also went to stores and sold the products to customers.
She invented the ” gift with purchase” concept. Because she had no money to invest in advertising, she invented this concept. Currently the image has moved a little away from the original, but still on the luxurious niche, elegance goes.
In my humble opinion, they are the most important pioneers of today’s makeup!
Sources: the vlog of Andreea Balaban – “The history and evolution of makeup”