Behind the Brush: A Look at Bobbi Brown’s Domination


by Cassie Hurwitz, Lifestyle Staff Writer

“Makeup is meant to celebrate authenticity and enhance beauty” – Bobbi Brown

We know the brands, we know the retailers and we certainly know the models. Yet something is missing. Where are the brains behind the operation, the hands that create our favorite looks? Makeup artists are an underappreciated cog in the wheel of the beauty industry. They are the geniuses that think up brilliant ideas, like using lipstick as eyeshadow or painting brows in a metallic gold shade. Today we take a look at one of the greats: Bobbi Brown.

Growing up in a Chicago Jewish family, Brown was never interested in conventional school subjects. She bounced around from University of Wisconsin-Madison to the University of Arizona until she realized her true passion and enrolled in Boston’s Emerson College, where she began studying theatrical makeup. Brown then moved to New York at the age of 23 and began working as a makeup artist. Even with an amateur portfolio, she worked her way up by having a naïve passion and impressive skills.

Brown’s lucky break came after spending nearly eight years in New York City. She met a chemist on a Mademoiselle shoot and mentioned to him that most lipsticks were unappealing to her because of their comically bright colors and uncomfortable formula. She dreamt of a lipstick that was creamy and long-lasting and came in natural, wearable shades. Before she knew it, “Brown,” the now best-selling Bobbi Brown lipstick, was born.

After creating the first shade, Brown began growing her empire. She extended the line to ten neutral shades and, essentially, birthed the natural makeup movement. Brown then got a shout out in Glamour magazine, bringing her to the attention of many interested customers and further solidifying her need to create a full brand. With these accomplishments under her belt, Brown partnered with a New York PR firm owned by Rosalind Landis and officially created Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.

Coincidentally meeting a cosmetics buyer for Bergdorf Goodman at a dinner party greatly accelerated her rise to fame. After this win, customers began calling like crazy in  response to the high demand for natural shades of eyeshadow, lip pencils, blush and every other product. Brown ran the company successfully for a few years before accepting a buyout offer from Estée Lauder, one of the largest cosmetic corporations. This decision unfortunately stifled Bobbi Brown’s growth, forcing Brown to move the company into a new area of New York City, SoHo. This strategic position actually worked in the brand’s favor by giving it the new inspiration it needed to attract a new wave of customers.

It was all smooth sailing after this decision to relocate, making Bobbi Brown a household name in the cosmetic world. Her natural approach to beauty revolutionized the way people wear makeup. Although her brand has expanded to include some brightly colored options, the main focus is always neutral, flesh tones.

For people who value natural-looking makeup, Bobbi Brown is the perfect option. The Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick comes in 13 muted, shimmery colors, while the regular Eye Shadow offers 15 matte shades. Her lip line is also extensive, offering more than 60 shades in different finishes and formulas. One of the most popular versions is the Art Stick, an incredibly versatile product that can be used anywhere on the face.

After Bobbi Brown’s 26-year domination, she recently revealed that she will step down from her brand. And though the company will continue to use her name, Brown will not be a part of further company decisions. While this may come as a surprise or disappointment to many die-hard Bobbi Brown fans, the brand plans to continue making wonderful, luxury products, and the real Bobbi Brown is free to do as she pleases.

It is difficult to say whether she will continue as a makeup artist, create a new brand or start a completely new path, but Bobbi Brown is sure to bring success and passion all of her future endeavors.

While most magazines and social media websites will highlight models and makeup brands, it is important to remember the brains behind the brushes. Makeup artists play a crucial role in the beauty industry, and makeup lovers would be lost without them.

Image Sources: 1, 2

Additional Sources:

Schindelheim, Athena. “How I Did It: Bobbi Brown, Founder and CEO, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.” Inc., November 1, 2007. Accessed March 12, 2017.

Zoldan, Rachel Jacoby. “Bobbi Brown Is Speaking Out About Leaving Her Namesake Beauty Brand Behind.” Allure, January 12, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2017.


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