In a recent interview with the New York Post, Bobbi Brown has a pop at the contouring craze, saying it looks like dirt on the face. She’s also not that keen on Botox because women are ‘supposed to have lines as they get older’. Lip fillers and plumpers get the Bobbi no-no as well.
I don’t contour because I quite honestly can’t be bothered; regular readers will know that I’m no stranger to a little light Botox or filler and while I agree with what I think the sentiment is supposed to be (be comfortable with who you are), I’m not sure it’s any better telling women what not to do than it is telling them what to do. If you go to a Bobbi Brown counter anywhere and ask questions, nine times out of ten you’ll be given an answer that starts with, ‘Bobbi says…’. Because, Bobbi does like to say a lot.
I’ve met Bobbi Brown – she’s pretty awesome and I get the impression that she really does champion older women, but (assuming she hasn’t been wildly misquoted) why then on the Bobbi Brown website, are we flooded with make up tutorials on younger women, when she is so keen to dictate how older women should look?
When I was writing for print, I was full of misconceptions about how older women should look – I literally was that journalist that wrote nonsense such as ‘fill your deep lines and wrinkles’, and ‘how to look ten years younger’. Bobbi is perfectly correct that a completely taut and wrinkle free face for an older woman does look out of place, but quite frankly, if that’s your thing, it’s your business. Being made to feel that you somehow have to look younger than your years – that’s another thing altogether and it’s what the beauty industry does best; pointing out your ‘problems’ to sell you a solution. Actually, if you have creases on your face, you don’t have a problem. Other people who make their thoughts known about your face in anything other than a complimentary way are the ones with the problem.
In some recent research for a print feature I was (anonymously) writing, I was asked to find a place in history when grey hair was revered. No such time exists. And if you’re thinking of the white wigs of the French Courts, they were powdered bright white to cover a multitude of sins and not powdered to look grey.
When I bring together all the words there are to describe older women, I can gather old, grey, sagging, drooping, jowelly, wrinkled, mature, crow’s feet, dull and so on, but nothing in the way of single word descriptions that address the beauty of older women.
It’s all very well for a ‘Bobbi says’ lecture, but embracing ageing isn’t something that comes easily to many women – you have to kind of grow into it. Beauty is so complicatedly tied to emotion and feelings of self worth and it’s not women that need to change, it’s the external influences that tries to convince them to be rid them of all their natural signs of ageing. Bobbi is a great one for a ‘fresh’ look as well as ‘perfect lips’, ‘glowing skin’ and signed the then 23 year old Kate Upton as a ‘spokesperson’ in 2014. I will say when it comes to skincare, Bobbi Brown is one of only a handful that doesn’t use the term, ‘anti-ageing’ in any obvious way. In many cases right now, I’m seeing a big change in attitude from skincare brands towards how they speak to their older consumers, but nine times out of ten while the attitude is different, the packaging has yet to catch up and is still touting the old lines, wrinkles and anti-ageing nonsense.
Bobbi Brown is a contradiction really – she is an older woman with a make up range that visually targets younger women first and foremost; on the one hand she says she’s not about changing your features on your face and yet on the other hand she’s quite happy to sign off on quotes such as “concealers are like undergarments. They make you feel taller and thinner”.. erm, as if taller and thinner is better. Argh! Bobbi does talk about make up for older women in her books – and she steers clear of finding fault, that’s true, but personally, I don’t think I need a list of Bobbi don’ts when it comes to how women look after their faces.
If you like to contour your cheekbones into wings of steel, if a bit of botox makes you feel happy, or if some filler puts a smile on your face, it’s nobody’s business but yours. It’s not what you do, it’s why, and so many women are perfectly able to be in control of the why. The more confident you feel in your own beauty decisions, the less you need to look to anyone else to quantify or approve them.
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I read the article earlier and consider it a joke – she does some of the heaviest, over-coloured eyebrows in the business and some of the heaviest airbrushing in her advertising and tutorials. I’ve been a fan of Bobbi Brown for a long time. However, I will say that recently her eye palettes have been not so good and the foundations oxidise like mad, especially the new serum foundation. She used to serve the more mature woman well but not now and the use of celebrities such as Katie Holmes and Kate Upton is also a huge disappointment.
I will still swear by a Bobbi gloss though – an enduring favourite.. I have never experienced the oxidisation but this is not the first time I’ve heard that it happens.
Can you separate Bobbi Brown the person from Bobbi Brown the company, which owned by the Lauder conglomerate? The only thing that matters to Lauder is profit. Makeup and skincare have always been aspirational products. That’s why you put a young woman’s face on your ads. She can bellow on and on about how good it is to look your age, but the demands of the marketplace always take precedence.
I don’t own a single Bobbi Brown product anymore, except the waterproof mascara. The foundations aren’t as good as Makeup Forever’s. The eye shadows are terrible. MUFE, Shiseido, do better blush, powder, eye shadow, lipstick than Bobbi Brown.
You can’t be old unless your Meryl Streep. ;/
I have her first book last century. She talks about going and get gycolic acid peels etc. She did not seem to have a problem back then. I was told by someone who works for Estee Lauder some years back, she really did not like the shimmerbricks and metalics introduced into her range. But it was EL who made the decisions and as she is paid by them, just followed the party line. Hence I think we now get the young models/actresses fronting her campaigns.
Jane! This is why you are so brilliant. I love your journalist background and the fact that you always do well on source criticism. I’ve read this article over and over and my heart sings. Although I’m only 33, I’ve got a beautiful mother of 64 that loves Bobbi makeup but is scared to approach the counter; she doesn’t need or want the Bobbi-lecture from a 23 years old staff.
Love as always. I might even link to this article, if you don’t mind?
That Luxurious Feeling
Love this. Down to earth common sense and so very refreshing. Thank you. Apart from missing out on huge numbers of women (over 50/60/70) who love skincare and makeup, one becomes invisible at the makeup counters, especially Lancôme counters! The same goes for the fashion houses of course.
Jane, I am SO glad that you are writing about this today!
I have a love/hate relationship with Bobbi Brown. I love her because she made the first truly good foundation for women of color. I will always respect her for that. I hate — well, just about everything else. She did the makeup for Naomi Campbell’s first Vogue cover and I believe it’s the only time I’ve ever seen Ms. Campbell look bad. That sister-wife “makeup” look that Ms. Brown favors really doesn’t do much for most of us.
I hate her preachy, sanctimonious approach to beauty; I feel that she’s a hypocrite. If you’re really all about the “natural” look, why bother with makeup at all? And certainly why bother making millions of dollars a year from selling it? Ms. Brown also doesn’t list her product ingredients on her website. In this day and age, that’s ridiculous. You have to email them in order to find out what’s in their products! So much easier to simply buy from a more transparent brand.
Personally, I don’t care for contouring for myself (unless I’m having a photo made, in which case I say bring it on) but if someone else wants to contour her face, fair play to her! It’s none of my business. As for Botox, yes, I’ve had some (I’m in my late 40s) and before it’s all said and done, I expect I’ll have some more. It’s my face, I’ll do as I please. Bobbi Brown’s opinions and judgements about that are of no interest to me whatsoever. It’s not her place to tell me, or anyone, what to do.
I respect your opinions, however I disagree. When you say “Because, Bobbi does like to say a lot” you make that sound like a negative thing. Why can’t women have opinions and voice them as much as they like? I don’t think we realize how we judge other women who make their voices heard. Also, I love that even though she can make more money selling contouring products she doesn’t and as a makeup artist she can decide whether or not she likes this trend and whether to sell it. Her name is the company name and on every product, so she can do as she pleases as to what products she makes. Also, when practically every beauty company is promoting looking young she is saying we don’t have to do Botox. Men don’t seem to get the same pressures. If a man said we don’t need Botox would you praise him or complain about him? Why when a woman says that she is insulting you? Why can’t someone say you look good with your face aging natural rather than sticking needles in your face, without us think she is insulting those that do? Why judge her on having a model as a spokeswoman? Hasn’t most all companies used young women in ads at one time or another? Not every company has come out with books showing older women in them, but she has.
I agree with this view and Jane I agree with your dislike of anti ageing and other similar usage on brands but find your pop at Bobbi on this post contradictory to what you’ve said before… people can’t do right for doing wrong it seems. It seems that you simply have an issue with ageing being put across in any way in the beauty industry and yet you yourself engage in muscle freezing jabs in the face!! I have no issues with women wanting to look younger or more beautiful or wanting jabs or having grey hair… but I just think your views are wildly differing from one moment to the next. Bobbi is a woman, she has an opinion and that opinion is as outspoken as yours as the subject of ageing and the beauty industry so how about live and let live no?
You make some really good points Vicky – I think what I’m trying to say is that women should age how they like; we do after all have choices and if you want to go non-surgical route (as I sometimes do) then you’ll find no judgement from me and you won’t the other way either if you opt not to. What I don’t like is the pressure to feel that you should as some sort of service to the world look younger than you actually are. The implication that looking young is key to everything is a huge burden on many women (especially in the beauty industry which I suppose is where my views have been formed) and without that pressure, we’d probably be a lot happier with our looks as a whole. I might say that my journey with Botox was intially curiosity (I had been commissioned to write a feature on the subject so I really felt I had to see what it was all about), I loved it, but haven’t had it for some considerable time and it’s fine. I do have some cheek filler again sporadically, but I would argue that it doesn’t make me look any younger.just a bit fuller in areas that had lost collagen. But, I don’t have the last word on anything and in lots of ways my views are still being formed as I’m progessing on my own journey. Thank you so much for your comments; it’s always good to have debate on these subjects and your points are very much taken.
And sorry.. I mean Helen!
I do love a good debate quite frankly… so I am happy to see your response. It is such a controversial and confusing subject. I’ve had fillers and i’d have them again, but I abhor the fact that people expect women to look a certain way, it makes me feel like a failure. I think I see where you’re coming from and i’m very much in the same area as you are in that regard, but for people who say things like Bobbi Brown does i just take on board she has products to sell and they sell better on younger models perhaps. I love what No.7 are doing with their campaigns so that is evidence of beauty on all ages and faces… i won’t say “real women” because you know what? That annoys me!!! All women are real for goodness sake. I haven’t tried Botox yet, happily would to be honest – but it’d be for MY satisfaction and not that of the world..as I am is the case when you yourself get fillers. I like women to be viewed as fabulous and wildly unique creatures, beautiful at all ages and in all incarnations – it isn’t just age that irritates me, there are a whole host of other apparent standards you have to meet the mark on…and ageing is a fact of life and something that happens to us all so perhaps the lack of age we are expected to show is just the most insane “standard” that society expects from us all in terms of beauty.
I read your blog because I enjoy the voice you have on various subjects, I sway away from many other blogs because they are not genuine or honest the way this one is. A good exchange is always welcome in my day though 🙂
Ever thought of writing a blog?! You’ve managed to put so eloquently what I have struggled to convey. I have definitely taken the comment’s views on board though and wonder if I have swung too far.. I have no problem with women looking after their faces as they see fit but I can’t – I just can’t collude with some of the brand messaging.. A key thing I’m noticing is that attitudes are changing but packaging is not: I’ve been asked to work on something that while I love their sentiment, I don’t like the packaging and that’s its own dilemma. I think maybe it’s because I immeresed in this ALL of the time and I see a very concentrated version – anyway I’ve listened because she did give good feedback and am going to try and cover more pro-age products and get over myself! Thanks for your thoughts xx
Maybe it’s unusual, but recently I’ve spoken with advisors on Clinique and Channel counters who were both grey haired and well over 50. As a grey haired 50 year old myself, I really liked it!
Incidentally the worst lipgloss I ever had was from Bobbi Brown – my hair glued to it in the slightest breeze. I’ve always been a bit cynical since one of their counter staff insisted I needed a yellow toned foundation even though it was obviously unsuitable (back when that was BB’s “thing”) and said if it wasn’t right at the time it would be fine when I tanned. As I was deathly pale with a very untannabke skin, I made my excuses and left.
Our opinions & viewpoints are always changing as we grow & life’s experiences leave their mark on us. If they’re not, you’re in danger of being close minded & immovable. I contradict myself almost every hour of the day!
I think the important thing is to feel you can voice your opinion & say what you feel – even if you change your mind 10 mins later!
You’re always so kind! I think right now I’m just angry with an industry that’s on the cusp of change towards older women (and their budgets) and was just thinking that getting older does evolve your feelings about how you’re spoken to regarding your looks. I know things now I couldn’t have known back in the day and I guess it’s the same for Bobbi.
Exactly! And I’m glad you’ve built yourself a place where you can talk honestly about what that all means to you in that exact moment. And if having the opportunity to hear other people’s thoughts on the same stuff, causes a change of perspective sometimes, that’s not contrary – that’s growing!xCx
I think A makes some good points. I am glad to hear Bobbi voicing opinions against botox/filler. The only reason they exist is for people to look younger and someone to make money from the fact that we all age. I”m very surprised that you voice criticism to this when you decry antiaging in all other areas. I personally find people look worse with botox – I can now spot them easily in a crowd as they all have the same look. It looks more unnatural the older someone becomes. I do agree with your point that if she really is an advocate for aging naturally, she should have some older ambassadors for the brand.
Bobbi says one thing then does another. She says all the right things about looking your best at any age and aging being something to embrace … Then has 20 year old faces selling makeup at a price point that many 20 somethings would balk at to 30 plus women as they’re the main ones who can afford them. Could they not stretch too two faces one younger and another older?! Or nick an idea from L’Oreal and choose an icon that most women can identify with?! (Seriously, whoever talked Helen Mirren into doing it is a genius!). I find the whole thing bizarre. People buy things because it presents something they aspire too or admire. Nothing wrong with Upton or some of the other faces, but they don’t resonate with me at all. This may explain the huge Bobbi shaped hole that now exists in my stash.
She may be right about contouring, but that’s because many people don’t blend it out properly. She may also be right about Botox … But my main argument against doing that is if you see so many megastars, who should be able to afford good work, looking off, then no one’s messing with my face!
It’s more the way she says it that sometimes sets my teeth on edge. She’s expressing an opinion. Sure, it’s an informed opinion but it’s just an opinion. She gives the impression of someone who wouldn’t take being disagreed with well. Which to me is all part of the fun. :).
There is a single word to describe the ageing/older woman……..beautiful.