Bésame Cosmetics is a makeup company out of California that specializes in vintage beauty.
Founded by Gabriela Hernandez in 2004, and based on her love of beauty, history, and background in art, she saw a need for the return of glamour back to the beauty routine and took to providing it for others. Fascinated with her grandmother's elegance in her makeup routine, Bésame offers a complete line of mascaras, lip colors, face powders, foundation sticks and perfumes.
Ever wondered what it would've been like to do your face like your grandmother did?
Since mascaras are often considered a desert island item, I decided to start there.
As the only company offering reproduction makeup from the early 1900s, Bésame is well known in the vintage circuits and there are two main mascara formulas they offer from the past - the 1920 Cake formula and the 1940 Cream formula.
These formulas are both are limited-ingredient, cruelty-free and will last you a very, very long time.
Here is what the 1920 Cake Mascara formula looks like:
How it works:
Both formulas come with a brush, but you can buy their extra brush set which I did, and do I ever love it. I have used the set for other things since I purchased it, such as for continuing to use mascara formulas I love with wands I don't so much.
For the Cake formula, you simply wet the formula with a single drop of water, dampen the cake with the included brush, apply that light mash to your lashes, wait for it to dry, and you're done.
Overtime you can adjust how dark or light the mascara applies by adding more or less water.
On oily-hooded lids, the Cake mascara stays panda-eye free for about 2-3 hours or about enough to shoot a few videos, scenes or go to dinner before it starts to break down.
When applied on powdered and primed lids or with a waterproof topcoat, I've found this extends the Cake formula's wear to about 4-5 hours.
I did these tests in July in a fairy glen in a home without air conditioning, so desert environments, such as those in Los Angeles where the company is based, may test differently.
However, let's look past the wear. The best part about this formula isn't really the wear - it's the mini brush, the experience, and how delicate the application makes your lashes look.
This mascara applies so elegantly and delicately your lashes finally look how you've always wanted them to look, like yours, but better and not like spider legs.
Part of this is the brush, part of this is the lightness of the formula.
You're not going to be able to stop admiring yourself once you crack through the learning curve of putting it on and that's the best part of the whole Bésame experience. You also get to learn how to apply historical makeup with affordable tools, which is a skill that will definitely come in handy one day.
The only downfall I found with the Cake mascara is that because it's basically watercolors that you apply to your lashes, if your lashes curled, I've found your lashes don't hold the curl as well, and tend to droop. To remedy this, simply heat curl your lashes before application and curl them more than you normally would, to get the finished product to look more like you want it and to account for the droop. You can heat curl your lashes by using a blow dryer on your eyelash curler for like 5 seconds.
But if you'd rather not heat curl your lashes, there's a workaround:
The 1940 Cream Mascara.
Wear time is about the same, 2-3 hours and 4-5 with primer and waterproof topcoat.
It isn't quite as wet of a formula as the Cake and because of this, it holds the curl a little better.
Rather than putting the formula on the brush like toothpaste, I have found that you get the perfect amount of Cream formula on the brush if you just do a line of it on the back of your hand and then roll any brush you want through it. I tried all the brushes I had, eventually liking the Cake mascara's little included brush best.
When applied this way, the formula is thin enough on the brush, that you could mold and shape your lash direction for as long as you want without it clumping up on you.
What I liked most about the Cream mascara, though, is that through using it, I realized I wished all mascaras to come in a tube. Which they could.
With all mascaras in a tube, I could choose my brush every time, the formula would last longer, and I could choose how heavy of an application I wanted every day without wasting any of the formula by scraping it off on the side of the tube. Why can't all mascaras come like this? The world would be a happier place by far if this were an option.
Aside from this realization, this is what I got out of trying these mascaras:
While trying them, I gained more respect for my ancestors and their trial and errors in beauty, knowing they had oily-hooded lids, too. Think about your grandmother stressed about panda eye for a minute. Bésame gave me so much more respect for the women in my family that I didn't even know I was missing through the experience of learning vintage beauty.
I learned how to apply mascara with a toothbrush and using other various old-fashioned methods and I feel these are valuable skills I'll never forget. I mean, who doesn't need the skill of learning how to apply mascara with any tool available. It's desert island knowledge.
And I laughed and loved on myself.
So if your heart calls to you to try these mascaras, just do.
You'll teach yourself how to do mascara the old-fashioned way in the process.
Which takes time and laughter at yourself mostly, and a nice afternoon of listening to old-fashioned music, so while you're doing it...
Get the perfumes.
Bésame offers a sample set of perfumes from six decades - 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960 - and it is honestly a tasting and a spiritual journey.
I waited six months to get this set because I thought it was frivolous and at this point, I've shared these scents with everyone I love. I whip them out of my purse and on long road trips ask whoever is willing to take me down their memory lane. Scent is thought to be the first since we're ever given in the womb, so it can bring back so many ancient memories you didn't even know you had and it's fun to share these with others. You will have a favorite, and your favorite might change day to day depending on your mood. Plus getting the perfumes completes the experience.
All in all, if you're going to go into it, go into it for the experience. Bésame Mascara does work on oily-hooded lids for about 4-5 hours in the most extreme humid environments. They mascaras are also hypoallergenic, gorgeous on the eye, and trying them is an interesting trip into history. So it's worth the experience to me. They're also great to have in your toolbox and to showcase for guests, plus they last forever and they can always be your backup.
Amanda Linette Meder
For the records of this article: I got the 1920 Black Cake Mascara, the 1940 Black Cream Mascara, the Mascara Brush Set which includes an eyeliner/lipstick brush, the Limited Production Decades of Fragrance Sample Set, and the Brightening Violet Powder not mentioned in this post.
Photos by Amanda Linette Meder