The Truth About Cosmetics in Latin America
What is Beauty?
Beauty is something that has evolved alongside humans throughout history. It’s amazing how the definition of beauty is different for every culture in the world, for example: in Thailand the longer a woman’s neck is, the prettier she is; in Africa, stretched earlobes mean pure beauty; in France people like when women don’t use cosmetics at all; and in New Zealand a lot of women adorn a tattoo on their chin as a means to attract someone.
As you can see, every country has a different idea of what “beautiful” is, which is amazing because it means we have a diverse world. However, one factor affects most countries’ meaning of beauty and that is makeup. Many consider makeup and cosmetics to be the best way to enhance your appearance in some way. Beauty in Latin America has become a huge industry and has influenced people in different ways.
Cosmetics Throughout Latin America’s History
Beauty industry wasn’t born in Latin America. Actually, every known human society in history has used beauty products. Some of them were made at people’s homes or in small batches by craftsmen, and they were used for medical purposes or because of a local matter. Interestingly, in the 19th century beauty became a booming business. Cosmetics, skin creams, and perfumes filled factories in Western Europe and the United States. The world started to associate beauty with these countries, and they became globally-renowned, beauty capitals.
Radio Created the Beauty Star
European and U.S. firms brought the modern beauty industry to Latin America after World War II. At the time, this continent had low incomes and couldn’t afford expensive products such as fragrances, body creams, or color cosmetics, so bathroom soap and toothpaste were the first products to be introduced in the region. Later, the firm’s strategy was to use radios, which made women want to have and use the products. Then, Mexican and Brazilian models began to promote some beauty products, causing multinational companies (such as Revlon and Avon) to open factories in Mexico (1948), Chile (1952), Brazil (1954), and Argentina (1957). This created a perfect direct-sell to Latin America.
Fame and Makeup Glam
Multinational companies were able to entice Latin Americans to buy cosmetics because they were associated with the aspirational glamour of the United States and Europe to which so many Latin Americans were attracted. Time passed and the beauty industry became more popular every time. Hair and nail salons, beauty contests, and makeup artists were some of the things that gained popularity and began to be part of Latin America’s beauty history.
The Beauty Industry in Latin America Is Growing
Some of the most popular products in the beauty industry are fragrances, skin care products, makeup products, hair care products, and hygiene products. However, makeup has become more popular throughout the years. In fact, according to Goldstein Research, Latin America cosmetics market has reached a value of USD 31.98 billion in 2017, and it’s expected to grow 4.49% by 2025.
It’s interesting how Nielsen Company categorizes the Latin American consumer by age. First, millennials (ages 23 – 38) are the ones willing to pay for premium products mostly in the hair care section. Second, generation X (ages 39 – 54) wants premium products mostly in the oral care section and is willing to pay higher prices for them. Then, baby boomers (ages 55 – 73), just like millennials, are also willing to pay mostly in the hair care section. And last but not least, the silent generation (ages 74 – 91) are the ones willing to pay for premium products in the body care section.
Also, it’s no secret that the preference for vegan, organic, and natural beauty products has increased exponentially in the past years in order to decrease the effects of pollution and to help the environment.
Beauty Trends that Latin American People Support
The Latin American market for beauty has seen huge improvements in both innovation and growth. Some of the trends that have helped this industry keep busy are:
- Personalization: Latin America has a lot of diversity, so it is very important to give the consumers the possibility of choosing the product that fits them more.
- Sustainability: climate change, the depletion of natural resources, and pollution are big problems nowadays, so being able to provide products that motivate people to help the environment brings more consumers.
- Hair care: there are new ingredients targeting different hair care needs, for example, conditioner and protecting agents (2×1).
- Sun care: unprotected exposure to UVA damages the DNA in skin cells, so products that provide this protection are very popular within this decade.
El día de los Muertos Makeup
Now, even though Latin American countries have similar customs, each one has its own unique traditions. For example, Mexico is known for its Catrina’s makeup, which has come to symbolize not only El día de los Muertos, but also as a reminder that everyone is the same in the end (we all die). The Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada created the first Catrina, and years later the Mexican artist Diego Rivera modified it by dressing it up in one of his murals. This figure became very famous and expanded through all Latin America, causing people to feel identified with this character in some way.
Catrina’s makeup consists of painting your face to look like a (pretty) skull. You need black and white face makeup, light tones of eyeshadows (red, pink, orange, etc.), a black eyeliner, a small makeup brush, and small colored rhinestones in order to paste them on your face. It is very common in Latin countries to paint your face as a Catrina for Halloween, however, it was originally intended only for El día de los Muertos.
Some useful vocabulary
Now that you know a little bit more about the beauty industry’s history and actual situation, it’s time to learn some useful vocabulary in order to know the names of the products and be able to ask for them in Spanish if you need to. For more vocabulary and a set of flashcards to use for studying, check out our Cosmetics in Spanish lesson!
Here are some of the must-know products:
|Los polvos selladores||Setting powder|
|Los polvos traslúcidos||Loose face powder|
|Las sombras de ojos||Eyeshadows|
|El delineador de ojos||Eyeliner|
|La crema de cuerpo||Body cream|
|El exfoliante de cuerpo||Body scrub|
|La cera depilatoria||Depilatory wax|
|El pintauñas||Nail polish|
|La mascarilla||Face mask|
|La crema hidratante||Moisturing cream|
|El agua micelar||Micellar cleansing water|
|El aceite de coco||Coconut oil|
|La brocha para maquillaje||Makeup brush|
|El gel de baño||Body wash|
Now you are ready to rock the beauty industry and enjoy the benefits of it! If you would like to learn more about Latin American culture and learn more Spanish words, try a free class here at Homeschool Spanish Academy!
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