No products in the cart.
Interview with Brenda Christian, President and CEO, Brenda Christian Cosmetics, Inc.
Brenda Christian founded her eponymous cosmetics line in 1982 to offer women unparalleled solutions to their skin care and makeup needs. The company develops products based upon voids in the cosmetics industry that Christian identifies through client interactions. We talked to this inspiring female entrepreneur about her journey, creating her own line of products and much more!
What inspired you to develop your cosmetic products?
B.C.: Though my business is now 32 years old, it seems like yesterday that I made the decision to become a professional makeup artist. I was young and energetic, and within a few months was booked solid, traveling and doing fashion show work. Still, my greatest love was teaching a woman, one on one, how to apply her makeup…everything from how to hold a makeup brush correctly to selecting shades she could wear to achieve her best look. When I began developing products, I did so out of necessity.
Regarding my brow products, that is quite a story!
Early on I became the go-to person for brow shaping in Houston. I adored working with my clients, but felt weak in adding to eyebrows to fill voids, or even more terrifying, creating an eyebrow where absolutely no hair existed. I could not find a product that worked well, and felt insecure about my work.
About that time, I enrolled in a three day course for experienced makeup artists offered by Maurice Stein, a well-known Hollywood makeup artist. The first day of the course, he tested each student. After the practical testing, Maurice pulled me away from the rest of the class and asked me why I was working in Houston and not California! I explained that my goal was not to become a television and cinema makeup artist, but to develop products formulated to work in extreme climatic conditions, like the heat and humidity of Houston. I told him I was working on a product to create eyebrows on women that had none.
For three days, Maurice worked with me, teaching me separately from the rest of the class, how to create beautiful eyebrows on women that had none. At the end of the class, Maurice asked me if I would show the products that I had been working on to Harry Blake, Director of Makeup for NBC Studios. I was happy to do so! Both men were excited about the potential of the new wax I had developed and encouraged me to share the products with them upon completion. Today, I am honored that Maurice sells my eyebrow products in his Cinema Secrets store in California, and I have always been grateful for his artistic training.
Your Universal Brow Definer is legendary. How is one brow pencil shade really universal?
B.C.: As I worked with my clients without brow hairs – due to genetics, a bad tweezing or waxing experience, or loss of hair through aging – and as a perfectionist, I would attempt to create an eyebrow that looked just as natural as real hair. I tried working with pencils and brush-on brow products, but couldn’t accomplish a natural looking brow. I began to work with different types of materials; oils, gels, clays, pastes, etc., trying to develop a “three dimensional eyebrow”.
I worked with literally hundreds of clients trying to create an eyebrow “hair” that could not be distinguished from the adjacent actual eyebrow hairs. As I tested different materials, I noticed that one material in one color would actually change color depending upon whether my client had very dry skin or oily skin around the brows. I mention this because the wax would not change color anywhere else on the body.
Most natural blondes have finer hair and drier skin and most redheads have even drier skin. This affected the color of the Universal Brow Definer wax as I applied it to the skin. Clients with oilier skin would cause the wax to become very dark. It had very little to do with how much pressure was placed on the eyebrow. It had to do with the reaction of the formula itself, creating a specific color base on almost every eyebrow. This material was a tinted wax, and when applied on a blond, it would literally turn golden blond or ash blond to mimic the client’s actual hair color. The same color would turn a reddened tan shade when applied to a redhead, and amazingly on myself, with very deep brown hair, it would turn dark when it touched my skin. The wax was actually reacting to the pH of the skin’s surface.
This in itself was fabulous, but the strokes – whether I poured the wax into a pencil and applied it or used it with a brush – were flat, and I wanted a three dimensional appearance. In order to accomplish that, I had to thicken the wax base of the colorant (now Universal Brow Definer Pencil®) and apply it in extremely thin strokes, which meant I needed to design a special blade to provide an angled edge on the pencil. Knowing that some of the best knives came from Germany, I visited with a sharpener company and they developed a special blade to provide that very specific edge to the pencil. Next, I needed to provide the three dimensional texture that would have each stroke look like a brow hair. To do that, I needed to work with light to catch facets of the strokes. I developed a demi-matte gel which, when applied, intensified the color of the wax base of the pencil but absorbed and refracted light and simulated a circular appearance in the brow hair stroke. Because it refracted light, it also reflected the actual hair color that the client had on her head, causing the eyebrows to be truly perfected. Thus, the first eyebrow gel was born; I called it Perfect Brow®.