Bobbi Brown: The Secret to Beauty April 19 2022

I am perhaps one of the least makeup-minded people I know. I have friends who have veritable arsenals of products—little pots of this and little tubes of that and crazy contraptions meant to enhance this or curl that—and who spend a lot more time than I would have the patience for in front of the mirror each morning making sure they look flawless before leaving the house.  (I, on the other hand, am lucky if I remember a quick swipe of mascara on my way to a wedding.)

I may not be a master blush/eyeshadow/liner/whatever applier, but I will admit to one thing—whenever I’m flipping through the channels and I see Bobbi Brown on the screen (and fortunately she ends up on enough shows speaking about and demonstrating this sort of thing that this is not an infrequent occurrence) I get this little nagging in the back of my head that makes me stop and watch.  (I think part of it is that she just applies makeup so effortlessly—seriously, is there anyone but Bobbi Brown that is so unassumingly comfortable with a makeup brush in her hand?)

Bobbi Brown, backstage at a fashion show.

Born in Chicago, Brown spent some time at the University of Wisconsin and then the University of Arizona before transferring to Emerson College where she studied theatrical makeup.  Brown first got her start in the professional makeup world when she moved to New York City and got her first editorial shoot with Glamour.  From there, the rest is really history—there were many shoots with famous photographers and even-more-famous models, there were (and still are) countless appearances on well-known television shows and book deals.  There was time spent creating new colors and new formulas for her makeup lines, and success realized in stores, online, and with the public.

Bobbi Brown. Image courtesy of

Bobbi Brown’s makeup is really about looking fresh, clean, and modern.  Her first line of lipsticks (just 10 shades, created with the counsel of a chemist) debuted in 1991, coming out of the 1980s with its big hair and bigger makeup trends (blue eyeshadow, red lips, pale skin, I’m looking at you).  With the debut of her lipstick line in Bergdorf Goodman in New York, 100 lipsticks were sold on the first day—which was how many Brown expected to sell in the first month.

Here’s the 100% truth and one of my favorite quotes from Bobbi Brown herself—“The secret to beauty is simple: be who you are.”  Not all of us are makeup connoisseurs or wear fashionable clothes, or fit into the sometimes very narrow-minded ideals of what society believes beauty to be—and it just doesn’t matter because being who you are is enough.


Written by Heather Cox for Rice and Beans Vintage.