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Bésame Cosmetics: Bringing Vintage Beauty to Today's Modern World

Founder Gabriela Hernandez came to the US from Argentina as a teenager and went on to graduate from the Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena.

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For many people, one swipe of a bold red lipstick is enough to brighten up their day. 

If we take a look back at history we see that over time, red lipstick has become a symbol for femininity, power, confidence and even rebellion.

Gabriela Hernandez recalls having lots of antique cosmetics that used to belong to her grandmother and remembers how she loved the way the products looked. 

Hernandez came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was just 14 years old and graduated from the Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena.

She later began her career in design and founded Bésame Cosmetics, a Los Angeles-based cosmetics company that seeks to bring back that classic, vintage glamour to today’s modern world.

I've taken timeless, iconic makeup looks and translated them into purposeful, premium beauty products for today's woman,

Gabriela Hernandez
Founder, Bésame Cosmetics

Who is Gabriela Hernandez?

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Hernandez is a makeup historian, author and the founder of Bésame Cosmetics.

“I always liked the way that product looked, I remember as a girl that I thought it was very glamorous, they were very womanly,” Hernandez said. “I always looked up to that as the epitome of being a woman, so I wanted to create products that brought back that idea for me, of that femininity.”

Hernandez is also the author of a book, Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup, which is used as the textbook in some college courses and makeup trailers for television and film sets.

“Basically it’s all of my research that I did to start the line,” Hernandez said. 

The book includes timelines and color palettes of different eras that makeup artists can use as guides, Hernandez explains.  

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How did Bésame start?

It all began with one red lipstick.

Hernandez started Bésame Cosmetics in 2004 with a lipstick in the shade Bésame Red.

“It was in a smaller lipstick container at the time, so it was more like what was available in the 40s,” Hernandez said.  

Hernandez said she didn’t initially intend to produce the products she did, but it just developed after the first product she made received a positive response. 

“It was more than just a pretty color. It was a connection to the strong women of our past. It was a declaration of power,” according to Bésame Cosmetics’ blog.

Bésame Cosmetics first started in the early 2000s, a time before social media.

“It grew very organically, by people telling other people,” Hernandez said. “It’s amazing to me that we’re still here, you know, because we’ve had to adapt to so many different changes.”

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What makes Bésame Cosmetics different?

The packaging is not the only unique factor about Bésame Cosmetics. Their formulas are made in California and are created to resemble the vintage cosmetics as closely as possible in terms of the look, the performance and the longevity, Hernandez explains.

“They are proprietary formulas, they are the most similar to formulas from the past,” Hernandez said, noting that these formulas use safe and clean ingredients that are available today. 

Bésame Cosmetics creates sustainable, 100% cruelty-free products that are free of harsh chemicals.

The tins for their Cake Mascara are reusable, the paper envelopes are biodegradable, and their lipstick tubes are made from aluminum, according to their website.

Historically inspired fragrances are also part of the Bésame Cosmetics products.

“I wanted to take the ingredients that were popular in those eras, and then make a fragrance that kind of embodies what perfumes would have smelled like in that era,” Hernandez said. 

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Collaborations

For the last 18 years, Bésame Cosmetics has been growing and expanding through collaborations with top names like Disney, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. 

Disney first approached Hernandez to discuss a collaboration for the anniversary of their classic film Snow White. 

“It was very exciting because I had been a Disney fan for a long time obviously and Snow White was one of my favorite ones,” Hernandez said. “It was really quite fun to do that collection.” 

Some of their other collections have included historical icons under what Hernandez calls their Iconic Women series. 

Every year they choose an iconic woman that they highlight and create products similar to what they would have worn and “really celebrates who they were,” Hernandez explains. 

Bésame Cosmetics’ most recent collection was a collaboration with Disney’s Villains. 

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What's next for Bésame Cosmetics?

Hernandez says they have some pretty exciting plans. 

“Trying to bring all this kind of historical goodness to more consumers, so they are aware of it, especially younger people because they can really get a lot of insight from looking at the past and from even trying some cool stuff from the past,” Hernandez said.

Where to start

Of all their products they carry online and in store, Hernandez says she would recommend one of their lipsticks. 

“We really specialize in red because red is one of the first colors that was ever manufactured in lipsticks. So we make all the reds from all the different periods that we have replicated,” Hernandez said. “There’s a red for everybody.”

Sarah Bruce, who works at the Bésame Cosmetics boutique in Burbank, helps match clients with the perfect red shade. 

“Our goal is to make you feel beautiful and to put the glamour back in your beauty routine,” Bruce said. “A lot of people light up. It makes them feel beautiful and I love that.”

Their store is located at 3505 Magnolia Blvd in Burbank, and they can be found online

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