(via nytimes.com) For a glimpse of what cosmetics marketing used to look like, flip through the recent book â€œHello Gorgeous!â€? a collection of beauty-product advertising images from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. â€œGlamour for You!â€? squeals one such ad for something called Stadium Girl Cake Makeup, featuring an apple-cheeked young woman and a promise to make the userâ€™s complexion â€œmore romantic than ever.â€? Elsewhere, a presumably satisfied cosmetics customer in a bridal gown is literally hauled off by a handsome man.
Whether you see such images as being shot through with optimism or just naÃ¯vete, it seems a long way from the sort of pitch used by Bare Escentuals, a cosmetics brand whose revenues for 2006 topped $300 million â€” more than double the figure from 2004. The most overt selling point for its foundations, eye shadows and other products is not the imagined Future You but the nitty gritty of the stuff itself. Its bareMinerals line of foundations â€” $25 for 0.3 ounce at Sephora â€” are made with â€œcrushed minerals from the earth,â€? with no oils or preservatives; itâ€™s â€œso pure you can sleep in it.â€? The companyâ€™s â€œpatent-pending Rare Minerals Skin Revival Treatmentâ€? is actually meant to be worn while sleeping, making your skin â€œmore luminousâ€? all the while, thanks to a formula that includes â€œall 72 organic macro- and microminerals that exist in nature.â€? That one is $60 for .15 ounce.
An ingredients-based pitch seems a little crunchy for the mainstream, but then perhaps the mainstream has changed since the San Francisco company was founded some 30 years ago. (Back then it was basically a bath-and-body boutique.) Leslie Blodgett, the president and C.E.O., joined in 1994, starting bareMinerals the next year. She had been in the foundation division of Max Factor, where, she says, the focus was entirely on creating products that â€œwould look great for three hours.â€? What happened after that, how uncomfortable it felt in the meantime or how much ended up â€œon your boyfriendâ€™s shirtâ€? wasnâ€™t really important.