How Bobbi Brown put a new face on the makeup industry

(CBS News) Is the purpose of make-up to completely make-over the woman applying it, or simply make her look her best? One businesswoman has made a fortune by highlighting the second approach, while also earning the admiration of our Nancy Giles:


Whether it's backstage at a fashion show or in front of a bathroom mirror, makeup is an essential part of many women's daily routine.

And few people have changed the face of a generation of women as much as Bobbi Brown.

Why are women so important in the beauty industry? "Who else is going to buy make-up?" she said. "Men aren't going to buy makeup.

"My aesthetic and my style of beauty is to look like yourself or better," Brown told Giles. "That style evolved very, very organically."

Brown is the creative force behind a cosmetics empire. She not only founded a company that's worth a reported $1 billion; she is also a bestselling author of beauty and lifestyle books, and has done makeup for everyone from Jill Biden to Brooke Shields to -- get this -- ALL of the Rolling Stones.

And I've seen her at work -- on ME. I've been intrigued by Bobbi Brown Cosmetics since Bobbi herself gave me a makeover on live TV some years ago.

Even then, her approach was revolutionary: makeup that looked natural and was simple to use, for ALL shades of women.

Nancy Giles with Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
CBS News

Those same ideas have continued to be an important part of Bobbi Brown's philosophy.

"We all want to look good; we want to look pretty," Brown told Giles. "And there are some days we do and some days we don't. So when I do someone's makeup, it's important to find not only colors that work for them, and textures, but makeup that works for their style."

It's a formula Brown has been working on for quite a long time.

"I remember being a very young girl, watching my mom put her makeup on to go out, you know, to the grocery store probably, and then do her make-up on Saturday night," Brown said. "My mother was very glamorous -- she still is! I used to sit there and watch her and be in amazement."

As a child, she began experimenting with her mother's makeup stash, on whoever (or whatever) was available.

"I made up my dolls, I made up my dog, I think I made up my young siblings, anyone that I could," Brown said.

What did she put on her dog? "I put a little blush on. No mascara. Probably a little bit of eyebrows up here."

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