My heartfelt thanks to Leimomi for her wonderful suggestion that I look into vintage makeup brands such as Bésame.
Bésame is a brand that celebrates the concept of femininity, and encourages customers to enjoy the rituals associated wi
th being a woman. I know that makeup doesn’t get everyone’s pulse racing, but when you hold
the weighty Bésame products in your hand you can really feel the luxury and romance.
I emailed Bésame through their main website and they immediately referred my query to the New Zealand representative, Claire of The Vanity Case who very kindly provided some items to me for review purposes*.
I was intrigued that there was an online business in New Zealand selling these products, and was therefore delighted when Claire let me have a nice long chat with her over a cup of tea, so I could get to grips with both the brand and the concept of the vintage lifestyle.
Claire has a pre-existing interest in the vintage lifestyle, and as a red head was searching for the perfect red lippy (I understood implicitly having recently been a faux-red head for several months). Her search led her, via forums and chat rooms with other vintage lovers, to Bésame and their extremely clever 6-shade tester system of red lipstick (more to follow on this product!). Claire is a nurse by day, but saw an opportunity in her life to represent a brand that she really liked, and so about a year ago became the sole distributor of Bésame in New Zealand.
Times they are a-changing but, and excuse me while I wax philosophical, in these times of “having it all” there is huge value in making small efforts to inject a little fab-ness into every day while you haul your butt all over the place wheeling and dealing and generally being amazing. That’s why I eat my breakfast off a gorgeous vintage plate and store my milk in a blue glass carafe – small things that make each day a little bit more special. Similarly, since I love make up, putting on good quality products, taking time to make myself tidy and well-groomed, and having a beautiful golden compact for touch-ups and post-coffee lipstick application is just…nice. It’s like wearing your red skirt on a dull day.
Claire and I also discussed another concept that is increasingly close to my heart: rather than buying LOTS of cheap stuff, why not buy one or two really nice things? It’s not always easy to ignore the mass-produced siren song of trends and acquisition (trust me and my shoe collection when I say this). But it is nice to hark back now to the idea of always buying the best you can afford (and less of it).
So, I love the philosophy of both this particular brand and their niche, but the big question is…did I love the products?
- Cashmere powder
This is a really divine product. The powder comes with a beautiful gold compact, inside a red velvet bag (mmmm, luxurious). However, that would be all for nought if the product itself was terrible. This is intended to provide coverage but I also use it with a light hand to set liquid foundation, which I then found lasted significantly better than with the other powder I was using.
The compact comes with a small puff applicator, which worked but I preferred to use a dense powder brush with this product. It is a smaller size compact in terms of surface area, so I have to concentrate a little with my brush, but I didn’t find it problematic. I think this would make such a beautiful gift for a friend to mark a special occasion.
Unfortunately the compact is currently all sold out. However, I have included it because my fingers and toes are crossed that it will become available again at some stage and, when it is, we will be sure to alert you all via Twitter with a link to this post so you know what we’re talking about!
- Crimson rouge
My favourite product from those I reviewed, this rouge is now a MUST HAVE for me. You know those questionnaires about what you would take to a desert island? For me, this product is in my top three (see also: sunscreen and lipbalm). Gotta be looking adorable when the rescue boat shows up, ya know.
It is extremely red in the pan, so I gently tap (not rub, not gouge) this twice with my middle and ring fingers and then blend over my cheek. That’s all you need for a light, natural-looking flush. This means that although I feel compelled to buy a back-up, I am going to be tough on myself as I will still be using this same tin in a year’s time.
I was a little concerned that a cream rouge would fade or slip, but even when my skin is oily and sad this product stayed right there on my cheek. I was also concerned it would be hard to apply on freshly-powdered skin but it was absolutely fine (I also used this on holiday over a BB cream and it was equally fine on the more greasy base).
Please also note the darling tin, which means when I finally finish this product I’ll have a place to store bobby pins!
- 1930s mascara
The Bésame pamphlet says “you will be delighted its surprising natural scent” and I quite agree. It smells like the delicious natural cloves that are used as the preservative in this all-natural wonder. I personally really love the smell but if you are sensitive to scent you might want to smell it before purchasing, to make sure it’s okay. I can usually still smell a teensy waft of the clove fragrance about a minute after applying but once it’s fully dry the smell disappears.
Again, the packaging of the product is divine. I did ask Claire if Bésame made refillable mascara tubes to slot into the casing as it seems such a shame to throw the gold casing out, but this is not something they offer at present (although goodness knows how difficult that would be to design – just a pipe dream potentially!).
The mascara creates a lovely natural effect. I found that one coat lacked oomph, but on the second coat I had separated, lengthened lashes. There is absolutely no clumping with this product. No spider lashes here!
- Classic Color lipstick
Red lipstick is a tricky one. Your skin tone, condition of your teeth, and of course hair colour will all play a part in determining what colour red looks best on you.
These lipsticks are highly pigmented and apply smoothly. They are described as semi-matte and this is an accurate description. This does mean that proper lip preparation and nourishment are important, and on a few occasions I chose to layer a very thin amount of gloss over the top. The lipsticks may feel drying to you if you are used to our modern hyper-moisturising formulas, but persevere as the long-lasting nature of the lipstick far outweighs any initial adjustment to the different texture.
Sadly this ingenious trial-size approach isn’t available at present. Claire also showed me the full-size lipsticks, and these are lovely in their gold bullets, so if you’re confident of your colour red you might want to graduate straight to the big guns!
Bésame states that satisfaction is 100% guaranteed, which is a huge call by any company. However, in this case I was more than satisfied with the products and I look forward to future orders!
You can find lots of information on the beautiful Bésame website here .
Claire also does vintage styling classes and workshops at Made on Marion in Wellington AND will come to your home and do a vintage makeup party! You just need to get 8 girls together and hey presto, you’re holding a “Springtime in the City” themed party in September/October. Yes please to a glam makeover and a night of cake – if you decide to host one flick me an invite!
*This does not affect my review – free and frank as always!