Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

Many women put a considerable amount of thought into the cosmetic products they buy: questions of color, consistency, and ability to diminish signs of aging/promote a clearer complexion/help achieve an individual ideal of beauty ricochet through the brain while a woman stands in the beauty aisle and decides between Cover Girl and Rimmel, L’Oreal and Maybelline.

What they don’t consider, however, is the evolution of cosmetics and the marketing strategies that have insinuated beauty products into our everyday lives. Why did names like Chanel, Estee Lauder and Max Factor enter the public vocabulary, and how have they continued to thrive? In Branded Beauty, Mark Tungate acts as more than a beauty biographer; rather, he uses his expertise as a brand communicator to shed light on a multi-billion dollar industry in which many of us participate, but few of us truly understand.

How has marketing changed the way we look?

Tungate presents the truth and rumor behind the most famous names in cosmetics, not to judge but instead to lay a foundation for understanding the marketing strategies that catapulted them to the center of our consciousness. Moreover, he gives a well-rounded history of cosmetic use that explains how women and men have viewed cosmetics as an indicator of status and wealth, and a weapon against aging, for several thousand years. He underscores the historical belief that pale skin, light hair and wide eyes are the definition of beauty, and how modern cosmetic brands have shifted their marketing to include other races and cultures while, paradoxically, still promoting this increasingly outdated ideal.

Tungate organizes a wealth of information in short, manageable chapters, written for the casual reader interested in beauty, marketing, or both. There is a handy list of “Beauty Tips” at the end of every chapter that summarizes the topics he has covered, which also makes this a reasonable selection for guided reading in any marketing course or reading group.

Branded Beauty is part primer on the evolution of the cosmetics industry and part industry case study, in which the company profiles highlight the elements of successful real-life marketing strategies. Students of marketing can easily apply Tungate’s lessons on creating, implementing, and understanding a marketing strategy to any brand or industry – or to help them define their own brand.

I highly recommend this book for anybody who wants a comprehensive example of marketing in action, as well as for the everyday cosmetics consumer interested in the fascinating history behind the products she buys.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kogan Page. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.