CONTEXT
  • History
    Cosmetic Industry

    The History of Beauty

    Q&A with Geoffrey G. Jones

    The human desire to attract reflects basic biological motivations. Every human society from at least the ancient Egyptians onwards has used beauty products and artifacts to enhance attractiveness. However, beauty ideals have always varied enormously over time and between societies.

    Read the full discussion.

     

    Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry

    Geoffrey G. Jones

    This book provides the first authoritative history of the global beauty industry from its emergence in the nineteenth century to the present day, exploring how today’s global giants grew. It shows how successive generations of entrepreneurs built brands which shaped perceptions of beauty, and the business organizations needed to market them. They democratized access to beauty products, once the privilege of elites, but they also defined the gender and ethnic borders of beauty, and its association with a handful of cities, notably Paris and later New York. The result was a homogenization of beauty ideals throughout the world.

    Buy the book.

     

    Reading Our Lips: The History of Lipstick Regulation in Western Seats of Power

    Sarah Schaffer, Harvard Law School

    This paper traces the history of lipstick’s social and legal regulation in Western seats of power, from Ur circa 3,500 B.C. to the present-day United States. Sliced in this manner, lipstick’s history emerges as heavily cyclical across the Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Western European, English, and American reigns of power. Examination of both the informal social and formal legal regulation of lipstick throughout these eras reveals that lipstick’s fluctuating signification concerning wearers’ class and gender has always largely determined the extent and types of lipstick regulations that Western societies put in place. 

    Read the full PDF.

     

    Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick

    Meg Cohen & Karen Kozlowski

    Freud dug it; Marilyn wouldn’t leave home without it. Lipstick: It’s an icon, a turn-on, an international symbol of the feminine mystique. Today it finds its place in history. Read My Lips is the book for everyone who’s ever fallen for the allure of painted lips or bought, borrowed, or stolen a tube of Five Alarm Red. A scenic tour of a lush landscape, Read My Lips celebrates the one cosmetic women can’t live without, the quick glam fix rivaled only by the little black dress for gotta-have-it-ness. For a device of such small stature, lipstick has inspired great feats. Read My Lips records them all—from Cleopatra, who enhanced her hue with henna, to Paloma Picasso, who donned her trademark red at the tender age of three. More than lip service, these colorfully illustrated pages include lipstick lore, art, literature, and photography, as well as memorable Hollywood moments and an inside take on the history, business, and psychology of painted lips. Chanel to Urban Decay, lipstick has left its mark as a girl’s best friend. Part owner’s manual, part cultural history, Read My Lips is a slick celebration of lipstick’s many traces. 

    Buy the book.

  • Inspiration
    Meaning of Wabi-Sabi

    Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

    Leonard Koren

    Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
    It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
    It is a beauty of things unconventional.

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    Tadao Ando

    The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated and trimmed away.

  • History
    Perception of Beauty in Different Cultures

    The Evolutionary Psychology of Facial Beauty

    Gillian Rhodes

    What makes a face attractive and why do we have the preferences we do? Emergence of preferences early in development and cross-cultural agreement on attractiveness challenge a long-held view that our preferences reflect arbitrary standards of beauty set by cultures. Averageness, symmetry, and sexual dimorphism are good candidates for biologically based standards of beauty. A critical review and meta-analyses indicate that all three are attractive in both male and female faces and across cultures. Theorists have proposed that face preferences may be adaptations for mate choice because attractive traits signal important aspects of mate quality, such as health. Others have argued that they may simply be by-products of the way brains process information. Although often presented as alternatives, I argue that both kinds of selection pressures may have shaped our perceptions of facial beauty.

    Read the full PDF.

     

    Cosmetics as a Feature of the Extended Human Phenotype: Modulation of the Perception of Biologically Important Facial Signals

    Nancy L. Etcoff, Shannon Stock, Lauren E. Haley, Sarah A. Vickery, David M. House

    Research on the evolution of signaling has shown that animals frequently alter visual features, including color cues, to attract, intimidate or protect themselves from conspecifics. Humans engage in conscious manipulation of visual signals using cultural tools in real time rather than genetic changes over evolutionary time. Here, we investigate one tool, the use of color cosmetics.

    Read the full article.

  • Physical Context
    Current Industry News

    GCI Magazine

    GCI magazine is the business information resource for marketers, brand managers, manufacturers and executives in the global beauty industry. Industry professionals look to GCI for the strategies, trends, analyses and market data that translate into brand impact.

    Current news on the beauty industry.

PROCESS / RESEARCH
PRESS
CONNECTIONS
  • Client

    Shu Uemura

    Founded and named after legendary Japanese make-up artist and beauty pioneer, Shu Uemura, the brand breaks all boundaries in beauty creation. Inspired by an aesthetic and professional spirit of the artisan, the Shu Uemura brand was developed on the founder’s holistic philosophy that beautiful make-up starts with beautiful skin. Believing that quality of skincare is essential in creating beautiful make-up, the most advanced skincare formulas using powerful phyto-ingredients are used as the first step to revealing every woman’s unique beauty.

    View the company website.       Read his bio.

  • Consultants

    Tetsuo Fukaya

    Founding Manager at KAITAISHINSHA Inc.

  • T&M Team

    Calvin Tsao

    Zack McKown

     

    Lena Bragina

    Elena Frampton

    Hillary Fulmer

    Randi Mageli

    Nisha Patel

    Richard Rhodes

    Sandra Steving

    Andrew Tripp