French cosmetic firm Bourjois has been a mainstay for savvy beauty consumers, and for the lucky women of France since the 19th century.
Paris was a raucous place in the 1800s, with fashion, music and theatre scandalizing polite society with its outré behaviour. Respectable ladies did not wear make-up, wanting to distance themselves from the actresses and ladies of the night who embraced enhancing their natural beauty with cosmetics. But ladies secretly used beetroot or strawberry juice to warm their pale complexions and even pinched their cheeks for a quick colour hit.
Alexandre Napoleon Bourjois was inspired by the world of theatre and wanted to create makeup that was easier to apply than the commonly used greasepaint. His first creation was dry powder stage makeup, known as Rouge Fin de Theatre, inspired by famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. Bourjois worked for Joseph Albert Ponsin, who had created whitening face powder for the theatre, and had a store at 28 Place Vendome.
In 1863, Bourjois created the first dry blush, developing a coloured, baked powder that was easier to apply and had a natural finish. The rose-scented powder was shaped into a dome, and naturally dried in the factory in Pantin, a suburb of Paris. Packaged in small cardboard pots, the pots were marketed as “good quality products for stage makeup and every day makeup.” In 1868, Bourjois purchased the business from Ponsin.
Bourjois’s next great idea in 1879 was to name the blush pots according to their colour. The first shade name was Rosette Brune, now known as Cendre de Rose Brune. Alexander Bourjois died in 1893, leaving the company to his wife, son-in-law and business partner Emile Orsodi, who eventually took over the company and found a new partner, Ernest Wertheimer. Both partners agreed to preserve the Bourjois name and later on founded French department store Galeries Lafayette.
From 1914, the pots were coloured the same as the powder, so shoppers would know what colour they were purchasing, another marketing tool proudly created by Bourjois. In the 1980s, Bourjois expanded to include eye shadows and in recent years, the pots have been reinvented to include brushes, mirrors and a rainbow of colours.
Bourjois has continued its inventive ways, creating the first two step mascara (Coup de Theatre) and the first loose eye shadow with a built-in brush (Suivez mon Regards). The collection now includes the full range of cosmetics and beauty accessories, as well as a mini collection, perfect for purses and travelling. All products are manufactured in France and as originally promised – made with ‘joie de vivre’.
For tips on the latest looks from Bourjois colour director Christophe Durand, go to http://www.bourjois.co.uk/home/make_up_class