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Future Perfect

By: Nancy McDonald and Salvador Pliego
Posted: October 5, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Nancy: I recently came across an evolutionary timeline of cosmetic products in the Western World. It begins with the heady fragrant oils and milk baths, kohl and henna of biblical times—while red lips and cheeks-o-plenty, emphasized with a strategically placed beauty spot, were the rage during Europe’s Age of Enlightenment. Enchantee!

The official coming out of the Gilded Age’s new “it” woman—who sported bow lips, freshly bobbed hair and rouged bee’s knees—was the ever-Roaring ’20s, a time when female beauty truly took on new meaning. And who could forget the glory days of cosmetics in the latter part of the 20th century, choreographed by the greats of the beauty industry—Lauder, Revson, Rubenstein and Arden.

Fragrance was re-defined, and its usage became broad; makeup reflected the sign of the times with its natural and innocent approach, while skin care became serious business. Beauty was indeed booming, and everyone was riding high—believing that the upward spiral was limitless. Those were the halcyon days, but now we face the very un-roaring 21st century. The beauty industry’s day of reckoning has finally arrived, and it’s not pretty.

It’s like the beauty products timeline has come to a halt. Is it possible that we are on the brink of extinction?

Salvador: Yes, you have referenced that concern once or twice, but it still amazes me how marketing has tended to overreact to the economic climate.