As you gaze exasperatedly around the Thanksgiving table this week, perhaps you should look upon Aunt Sue or Granny Esther as a potential font of beauty-related wisdom. Recognizing as much has proved profitable for actress Salma Hayek.
As you gaze exasperatedly around the Thanksgiving table this week, perhaps you should look upon Aunt Sue or Granny Esther as a potential font of beauty-related wisdom.
Recognizing as much has proved profitable for actress Salma Hayek.
She was raised in the city of Coatzacoalcos in southern Mexico, learning beauty secrets from her grandmother Maria Luisa Lopez, who made scrubs, masks and conditioners using ingredients indigenous to the country — including prickly pear; raw honey; and mamey, a large football-shaped fruit.
“She was an alchemist and would mix beauty knowledge that is also historical tradition and make her own creams in the kitchen,” Hayek wrote by email.
Several decades later, Hayek drew from those traditions for a makeup line, Nuance Salma Hayek: 160 products for the hair, body and face that cost between $5.99 and $19.99 and have been sold at CVS since August 2011.
“I knew I had in my possession precious secrets from her that were better than anything else I had tried,” she wrote.
Sales have been the highest for a proprietary brand in CVS history, said Judy Sansone, a company senior vice president.
Hayek has the built-in advantage of being a celebrity, but she represents just one example of newcomers to the beauty world capitalizing on rituals and ingredients used by their mothers and grandmothers.
For decades, skin-care and cosmetics lines have touted their discovery of the latest scientific breakthroughs to help draw consumers.
Today, though, many are also reaching to the past.
Natural brands, which include the family-heritage category, have been outpacing the overall market, according to figures from the NPD Group, a market-research company based in Port Washington, N.Y.
In 2011, the brands grew 18 percent, compared with 12 percent for the overall market.
Indeed, some such brands have become positively big-box.
Aveda, for example, started in 1978 with the help of two Ayurvedic doctors who designed products using recipes and ingredients from their Indian grandmothers.
They’re now sold at 7,000 sites worldwide.
The beauty-and-spa chain Caudalie, available at 12,000-plus retailers, bases its treatments and products partly on the upbringing of co-founder Mathilde Thomas at a vineyard in France.
“In the world of beauty, the back story of a brand can be as appealing as the products themselves,” said Amber Katz, founder of the blog Rouge 18.
“These companies are based on homey traditions, and, really, there is something so charming about buying a product that someone’s grandmother mixed up in her kitchen back in the day.”
The many stories include that of Shaffali Skincare, founded by Shaffali Miglani in New York. It uses Indian ingredients such as turmeric and sandalwood, which Miglani’s mother praised as beauty essentials during her childhood in Pawtucket, R.I.
And Vicki Weaver-Payne started Eight Skincare, an Oklahoma City-based line of moisturizing body products, after recalling her mother’s recipe for a hydrating lotion using aloe vera, avocado oil, apricot kernel oil and five other ingredients.
“My mom worked as a mechanic with the Air Force during World War II and had super-dry skin from being in the hangar all day long,” Weaver-Payne said. “So she created this cream that a co-worker told her about, and we used it all the time as kids.”
Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, a first-generation American of Kenyan descent, went further afield.
The Nyakio skin-care line she introduced in May on HSN includes exfoliators for body and face inspired by the summers she spent on a coffee farm in Africa.
“One of my first memories,” Grieco said, “is of my grandmother teaching me and my mother to crush coffee beans and rub them on our skin using a piece of sugar cane to remove the dry skin."