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Best of Beauty 2016: Hall of Fame

“I joined BareEscentuals to run the company in 1994. It was a bath and body brand with six stores in the Bay Area. Coming from Neutrogena and Max Factor, bath and body wasn’t my thing. I was way more into makeup. And BareEscentuals just happened to have this one mineral foundation from the ’70s. I don’t even know whether people were buying it, but it was in the store.

“I’d struggled with my skin my whole life. I’d break out and pack on makeup. It would crack, and my skin never got better. So when I saw the foundation, I was mesmerized by the idea of five ingredients I could feel good about. I thought, OK, this is really interesting.

“But the product was basically handmade, it didn’t match skin tones well, and it needed refining. We had these little blenders, and we’d add different ingredients, test it on our arms, try it in the sunlight, and wear it around. Making foundation is like a meatball recipe from an Italian grandmother: You could have the same ingredients, but she does it best.

“Once we had the formula down, we turned to the packaging. We went with a matte gray lid. I wanted that Zen river-rock feeling—a subliminal message of meditation. I don’t think anyone got that, but it doesn’t matter.

“We launched in 1995. And: nothing. Then, on August 30, 1997, I went on QVC for the first time. If it weren’t for QVC, there’s no way this product would have taken off . There was no social media then. On TV, I could ask women, ‘Do you know what you’re putting on your skin? Can you imagine a foundation so good for you that you can sleep in it?’ We sold out instantly. I don’t think QVC ever had anything that sold out so fast.” —Leslie Blodgett, founder

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