Facial care products from La Bella Figura include Bio Active Healing Mask.
A mamey fruit-based shampoo and conditioner from Nuance, a line created by Salma Hayek.
The Vinexpert Firming Serum from Caudalie is based on the co-founder’s upbringing at a French vineyard.
Prickly pear, olive oil, avocado, aloe vera, apricot kernel oil, sandalwood, turmeric and raw honey are among the ingredients finding their way into beauty lines based on old family recipes.
Elizabeth Lippman • New York Times,
A Sandalwood and Geranium body moisturizer from Shaffali Skincare.
Grandmother's beauty recipes enjoying a revival
- Article by: SHIVANI VORA
- New York Times
- November 25, 2013 - 2:32 PM
As you gaze exasperatedly around the Thanksgiving table, perhaps you should consider that Aunt Sue or Granny Esther may be a potential font of beauty wisdom.
Recognizing this has proved profitable for the actress Salma Hayek. She grew up in Coatzacoalcos, in southern Mexico, learning beauty secrets from her maternal grandmother, Maria Luisa Lopez, who made scrubs, masks and conditioners using ingredients indigenous to the country, like prickly pear, raw honey and mamey, a large football-shaped fruit.
“She was an alchemist and would mix beauty knowledge that is also historical tradition and make her own creams in the kitchen,” Hayek said.
Several decades later, Hayek drew from those traditions for a makeup line, Nuance Salma Hayek: 160 products for the hair, body and face that cost between $5.99 and $19.99 and have been sold at CVS since August 2011.
“I knew I had in my possession precious secrets from her that were better than anything else I had tried,” she wrote.
Sales have been the highest of a proprietary brand in CVS’ history, said Judy Sansone, senior vice president for merchandising at CVS.
Hayek has the built-in advantage of being a celebrity, but she is also just one example of newcomers to the beauty world capitalizing on rituals and ingredients used by their mothers and grandmothers. For decades, cosmetics and skin-care lines have touted their discovery of the newest scientific breakthroughs to help draw consumers, and while modern lab technology still drives much of the business, many are now also reaching to the past.
Natural brands, which include the family-heritage category, have been outpacing the growth of the overall market, according to the NPD Group, the market-research company based in Port Washington, N.Y. In 2011, these brands grew 18 percent, compared with the overall market growth of 12 percent.
Karen Grant, NPD’s global beauty analyst, said that many more lines are now founded on family legacies than five years ago.
“For a while, brands created by dermatologists were growing rapidly and highly profitable,” she said, “but now those have slowed down, and consumers are moving away from the clinical.”
Amber Katz, founder of the blog Rouge 18, believes that such lines are an easy sell precisely because they tend to downplay whatever chemicals they contain.
“People are more concerned about what they put on their faces, and companies started on family traditions tend to be perceived as more pure,” she said. “It totally works from a marketing perspective.”
Indeed, some such brands have become positively big-box. Aveda, for example, started in 1978 with the help of two Ayurvedic doctors who designed products using recipes and ingredients from their Indian grandmothers; they’re now sold at 7,000 locations worldwide. The beauty-and-spa chain Caudalie, available at more than 12,000 retailers, bases its treatments and products partly on co-founder Mathilde Thomas’ upbringing at a vineyard in Bordeaux, France.
“In the world of beauty, the back story of a brand can be as appealing as the products themselves,” Katz said. “These companies are based on homey traditions, and really there is something so charming about buying a product that someone’s grandmother mixed up in her kitchen back in the day.”
Moms knew best
The success of Hayek’s line aside, such charm can wilt a bit under the fluorescent lights of a national chain drugstore, so many brands have chosen alternative showcases. La Bella Figura, co-founded by Victoria Fantauzzi and based in Chicago, has 15 products, including facial oils, masks and cleansers ranging from $12 to $155. Since last year, it has been sold online and at high-end apothecaries throughout the United States and Europe, with formulations for lips, eyes and face.
“My grandmother was raised in Spain, where the culture in those days was to make your beauty products, so she brought that practice over with her when she immigrated here,” Fantauzzi said. “She used to massage olive oil onto my hair and make up a honey mask for my face on Saturday nights, and we sat around watching ‘Love Boat’ while they worked their magic.”
Similar stories abound. Shaffali Skincare, founded by Shaffali Miglani in New York, uses Indian ingredients like turmeric and sandalwood, which Miglani’s mother praised as beauty essentials throughout her childhood in Pawtucket, R.I. And Vicki Weaver-Payne started Eight Skincare, an Oklahoma City-based line of moisturizing body products, after recalling her mother’s recipe for a hydrating lotion using eight ingredients, including aloe vera, avocado oil and apricot kernel oil.
“My mom worked as a mechanic with the Air Force during World War II and had super-dry skin from being in the hangar all day long, so she created this cream that a co-worker told her about, and we used it all the time as kids,” Weaver-Payne said.
Kristina Ivy of RICA Bath and Body in Brooklyn went even further back, to her great-great-grandmother’s recipes.
“Growing up, on the weekends, we would sit in my grandmother’s kitchen making natural body products, like a cornmeal-and-honey face mask,” she said. Products include an olive-butter foot balm and an oat-and-honey milk bath.
And Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, a first-generation American of Kenyan descent, went further afield. The Nyakio skin-care line she introduced in May on HSN includes exfoliators for body and face inspired by the summers she spent on a coffee farm in Africa with her grandmother.
“One of [my] first memories is of my grandmother teaching me and my mother to crush coffee beans and rub them on our skin using a piece of sugarcane to remove the dry skin,” Grieco said.
Maybe you should give that pumpkin pie another look, too.
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