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Beauty Make-Up

Leading a Colorful Life With Gabriela Hernandez, founder of Besame Cosmetics

Rachel Sokol

Gabriela Hernandez, founder of Besame Cosmetics shares what she’s learned as an entrepreneur—and what it’s like to be a beauty historian.

Growing up in Buenos Aires, young Gabriela Hernandez loved watching her Grandma get all dressed up; fascinated by the elegant way her Abuela carried herself. “She kept her clothing always ironed and ready, and she always had her red lipstick on,” says Hernandez, who currently resides in Southern California and also has fond memories of rummaging through the shimmery makeup in her mother’s purse. 

After studying ceramics and sculpture, Hernandez focused on the unappreciated glamour of vintage cosmetics. After graduating from the Art Center College of Design, she began her professional beauty career designing makeup packaging and wrote the book Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup.  

Aiming to bring back the sophistication of her grandmother’s beauty routine, in 2004 Hernandez launched Bésame Cosmetics. (Pucker up! If you don’t know, ‘Besame’ means “Kiss Me” in Spanish. Which works well with the fact Besame’s creamy lipsticks come in a variety of stunning shades.)

Today the company–headquartered in Burbank, California–-manufactures mascara, lipstick, powders, and more; offers period beauty classes, and operates as a boutique for customers. 

Besame’s ingredients, design, and packaging are all vintage-inspired. The makeup and lotions themselves are 100% cruelty-free and great for sensitive skin. (They don’t contain gluten, parabens, or mineral oils).

“We take the time to make something really unique, from the design and manufacture of the cases to the formulas we sell,” says Hernandez. “We really do not cut any corners when making our products. We want to delight our customers with every item we produce.”

She explains the stunning “old Hollywood” look of her brand’s packaging “is important because it transports you to another time, or another place when you use the products.”

The best thing about being a beauty entrepreneur? “Probably that you can make your own hours, even though you are never really off work mode!” laughs Hernandez. “Also, being able to make things that my customers will love.” Her best career advice is: “Pick your battles, do not spend energy on things that do not deserve it.”

As an official beauty historian who sits on the board of New York’s Makeup Museum, she drops this little tidbit about the history of beauty:

“One fun cosmetic fact is that there were female impersonators who sold their own branded beauty products more than 100 years ago! So the trend of male beauty influencers is not as recent as we all thought.”

Learn more about Besame and Gabriela Hernandez at: besamecosmetics.com

Rachel Sokol
Rachel Sokol

Rachel Sokol is a professional writer and editor with over 20 years of editorial experience in a variety of genres from higher education to holistic health to celebrity. She’s been published in Piccolo Universe (formerly Ricky Martin’s blog), Univision, Reader’s Digest, SHAPE, Hispanic Career World, Health.com, Parenting.com, REDBOOK, Real Simple, and more, and was an entertainment columnist for amNew York. A half-Boricua who has been to Puerto Rico numerous times, she lives on the East Coast with her family and is a mother of two.

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