Bésame Cosmetics Makes Hollywood’s Period Pieces Look So Good

Bésame Cosmetics in "The Last Tycoon"

There is a scene in the Netflix series Griselda where Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, playing the matriarchal narco-killer Griselda Blanco, stands in front of a mirror applying a unique triangle-tipped lipstick from a gold, cylinder-shaped tube. The Art Deco case and deep, cherry red tones are a dead giveaway. It’s the 1970s Chocolate Kiss lipstick – the perfect shade for La Madrina – from Hollywood’s favorite Latina luxury vintage makeup company, Bésame Cosmetics.

Spotting Bésame lipstick and its signature packaging on the screen is a special thrill. It makes us feel seen (at least this Latina does), and we don’t feel that way often. Latinos make up more than 19% (62.5 million) of the United States population, but a mere 4.4% of Latino actors have been leads or co-leads in Hollywood roles.


And according to a report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Latino presence in Hollywood has basically been stagnant for the past 16 years. The fact is, we are severely underrepresented.

Still, for the last twenty years, no one has honored the style, spirit, and sensibility of Latina beauty in Hollywood better than the creator of Bésame Cosmetics, makeup historian, entrepreneur, and author Gabriela Hernandez.

Rita Moreno with Bésame Cosmetics
Rita Moreno with her Bésame

“We have been participating in movies for years,” Hernadez told Latinamedia.Co, during an interview celebrating Bésame Cosmetics’ 20th anniversary this year. “Our makeup is historical. I don’t invent; I reinterpret the past.”

Born in Argentina, Hernandez founded Bésame Cosmetics in 2004 and based it in Los Angeles. She reimagined cosmetics from the 1920s to the 1970s to celebrate Latina women’s simple yet classic beauty. In just two decades, the look has become a favorite among Tinsel Town’s makeup artists. It’s almost a catchphrase: “That shade of hot red is so Bésame!”

“I present what was, not my opinion of what is, because if not, it’s not real,” Hernandez said. “It must have the same feel as it did at the time. I try to create that type of fantasy.”

Hernadez is a storyteller with an acute attention to detail and the history behind her craft. It’s what makes Bésame different. Her love of vintage permeates everything she does – from photography to work as an art director to her book Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup. (It’s now used as a training guide in makeup schools.)

So, what or who inspired her? We asked. “It was my grandmother,” Hernandez told LatinaMedia.Co. “It came from her, from her classic look and good taste.” She said that as a young girl, she watched transfixed as her Argentine grandmother Rita went through her beauty routine.

“They were very poor when my Mom was a teen,” Hernandez said. “She (Rita) did not use many products, but she did have her favorite lipstick and powder compact handy on her vanity table.”

Gabriela Hernandez's inspiration, her Abuela Rita
Gabriela Hernandez’s inspiration, her Abuela Rita

“I remember her at her table brushing her hair carefully and curling the ends with her brush,” she said. “Using a dark ruby red color lipstick on her lips as well as dotting some on her cheeks and spreading it. I do remember it as a movie, with her in slow motion brushing her hair.”

If only Abuela Rita could see her now.

Griselda, which took the No. 1 spot on Nielsen’s weekly streaming rankings, is only the brand’s most recent appearance. You can spot Bésame lipsticks, 1930s cake mascaras, and creamy rouges in FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, on actress Hayley Atwell wearing 1946 Red Velvet lipstick in Marvel’s Agent Carter, actress Lilly Collins sporting American Beauty red in The Last Tycoon and actress Jessica Lange surrounded by Bésame beauty products on American Horror Story.

Bésame Cosmetics lip colors, eye shadow palettes, blushes, and soft pink and white powders are also prominently featured in Being the Ricardos, Black Panther, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Hollywood, among others.

“I wanted to portray Latina women and give them the power that they have,” Hernandez said. “Latina women are classic women. They never go out of fashion,” she said. “They are timeless. It’s a fashion that never dies; it’s feminine and woman.”When you wear Bésame Cosmetics, and I do, you can imagine yourself in a movie – it’s like falling into a classic old Hollywood film starring Dolores del Rio and blending in. So, when people say that representation is a tired old word, just point them toward Griselda and that Chocolate Kiss lipstick shade.

What We're Watching

Stay Connected & Sign Up for Our Newsletter!