Brazilian women are emerging as a dynamic new force in beauty. Stylist investigates how the world’s most beautiful country is setting the trends.
There’s a reason why Gisele Bündchen has reigned as the world’s highest earning model for the past seven years, eclipsing even Kate Moss (according to Forbes magazine, she’s the supermodel most likely to become a billionaire).
The chemistry just fits. The 30-year-old Brazilian’s looks are accessible enough not to alienate women, but her tanned limbs and feminine curves mean she also brings an innate sexuality to the clothes she advertises. In short, she’s the woman most of us would love to look like right now.
Except Gisele is only the tip of the iceberg; South America’s largest country is also home to the world’s most beauty-savvy women and is becoming the trend-setting hub for the global beauty market. From the suburbs of São Paulo to the colourful streets of Rio, Brazilian women are spending more money on their appearance than ever before. What’s more, Brazil has become a nucleus for brands looking to source unique, natural ingredients. Right now, it’s all eyes on Brazil.
“Beauty is so important in Brazil,” says Alexander Edmonds, author of Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex And Plastic Surgery In Brazil. “Vaidade (or vanity), doesn’t have a negative connotation in Brazilian Portuguese. And from an outside perspective, the country is seen as a symbol of tropical sensuality in the foreign imagination.”
Aghast at your monthly spend on beauty products? Chances are it’s nothing compared to the women south of the equator. The pursuit of beauty is so high on the agenda for Brazilian women that new research shows they spend 11 times more of their annual income on beauty products than UK women – quite an investment. This huge loyalty to making the most of their looks is contributing to an extremely fertile Brazilian beauty industry.
Brazilian women spend 11 times more of their annual income on beauty products than UK women
“Brazil offers a bonanza for beauty manufacturers. Of a population of 186 million people, 114 million are consumers,” explains Vivienne Rudd, senior beauty analyst at global consumer research company, Mintel. “Having suffered a terrifying level of national debt and inflation in the early Nineties, successive Brazilian governments have pursued moderate, sustainable growth. This has led to an increasingly wealthy, urbanised middle class, who feel confident enough to spend more money on beauty.”
The result is that Brazil is now the third biggest beauty market in the world after the USA and Japan – making it no surprise that the rest of the beauty world is increasingly looking to Brazil to lead the way.
A beautiful environment
One of the biggest lures for beauty brands looking to harness this market is the treasure trove of ingredients found in the country’s lush vegetation. In July, Mac will unveil its new Semi Precious range. A line of blushers, eyeshadows and face powders infused with jet-milled semi-precious stones of bronzite, black tourmaline, pyrite and lepidolite, which were ethically mined from the Mata Atlântica costal region of Brazil and contain the richest, multifaceted pigments Mac has ever used. They’re predicted to be a global sell-out.
“As Brazil is an important and fascinating market for the company, we went there last year to conduct focus groups and happened to meet a raw ingredients supplier,” recalls Nick Gavrelis, vice president of global product development at Mac. “We were expecting to see stone dust and botanical extracts, but were presented with semi-precious stones. The unique colours and subtle nuances of these stones inspired us. Our research and development team carefully baked these stones into the Mineralize formula to create this dazzling make-up.”
Another global brand that’s enamoured with the rich setting that Brazil has to offer is Aveda, which recently relaunched its Uruku make-up range. Named as such because it contains Urukum seeds harvested by the Yanawana people – an indigenous tribe in Brazil – to create vivid pigmented shades. The country is one to watch in the fast-moving world of skincare too. Earlier this year, Kiehl’s unveiled its latest range in the fight against ageing – Açai Damage-Repairing Skincare Collection. Sourced from the Brazilian Amazon, the collection features the powerful antioxidant, açai berry at its heart and has since become one of the brand’s top-selling skincare ranges.
THE MANE EVENT
It’s not just Brazil’s unique biodiversity setting the beauty agenda. Rio is fast emerging as a vibrant new fashion capital – Brazilian Fashion Week is now one of the big dates in the fashion calender – and the Brazilian supermodels who strut its runways, including said Gisele Bündchen, Mariana Braga and Adriana Lima, are just as much of a force on the worldwide stage. The domination of Brazilian models on billboards and magazine covers is helping to set a new worldwide aesthetic – the Brazilian beauty – and it’s a look that is filtering across the globe and spawning a new breed of treatments and trends which all originate in Brazil.
Take the Brazilian blow-dry, which is fast becoming one of the most popular treatments across the country. As the name suggests, it found its roots (no pun intended) in Brazil where women take their hair very seriously. Bad-hair days are rarely experienced, with the typical woman using four or five products to prime her locks each morning. “You won’t find a Brazilian woman who doesn’t spend time on her hair,” says Silvia Rayol, an advertising executive from São Paulo. “Our hair is naturally curly and it often frizzes up in the heat. So we keep it under control by going to the hair salon every week for treatments and blow-dries, or by using moisturising hair masks at home.”
Taming unruly locks is serious business in Brazil, which is why the Brazilian blow-dry came about. If you too suffer from frizzy hair and want a long-lasting fix, book the brilliant Compton Zero Brazilian Blow Dry (from £145, comptonhair.co.uk), which involves heat-sealing the hair strands with a smoothing keratin solution.
Serums such as L’Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Absolut Repair Cellular Treatment (£10.99, lorealprofessionnel. co.uk) also sell by the truckload in the humid country and are a great addition to your summer haircare regime.
'''In Brazil – a country of natural brunettes – it’s the blonde who stands out from the crowd'''
Right now, there’s an obsession with blonde hair in Brazil. In a country of natural brunettes, it’s the blonde who stands out from the crowd. “Having light hair epitomises glamour,” adds Rayol. One of São Paulo’s most sought-after hairstylists Julio Crepaldi is known for his signature buttery highlights. “Golden shades are popular with the lower and middle classes. Whereas beige blonde and caramel shades – like Gisele’s – are still the most popular with the wealthy,” reveals Crepaldi. And it’s garnered quite a following here too, with salons such as Jo Hansford and John Frieda offering bespoke blonding techniques which mirror the tones popular in Brazil
“Because Brazilians like to colour and chemically straighten their hair, they moisturise it at home with argan and coconut oils, but with more product choices now, hair masks are very well-liked,” Crepaldi adds. As a result, Brazil is now the international leader in the haircare category, surpassing the USA and Japan. Products such as Kérastase Masque UV Defence Active (£20.72, lookfantastic.com) and Pantene ProV Intensive Treatment (£4.09, pantene.co.uk) are top sellers. Those with sun-ravaged, or chemically treated hair can take inspiration from luscious locked Brazilians, and use these masks instead of your usual conditioner.
After seasons of pale skin ruling the catwalk, the Brazilian tan – as featured in Stylist two weeks ago – is one of the hottest looks of the summer.
A nation of sun-worshippers, Brazilians like their skin golden, but are aware of the damaging effects of UV exposure. “Women are now much more emphatic about the use of sunscreen. They take sun on their body, but are very careful with their face,” says dermatologist Dr Adriana Vilarinho, whose clients include Gisele.
We may not endure the same scorching temperatures, but following the Brazilian mantra of shielding the skin against the sun, is certainly worth adopting. A handbag staple for the ladies of São Paulo is Clinique Sun SPF30 Face Cream (£15.50, clinique.co.uk), a brand which has developed a serious following since opening its doors in Brazil in 2007.
Brazilian women repair their skin during the winter months with peel to wipe away sunspots from the face, hands and forearms. For a blemish-free complexion, post-summer holiday, book a peel with Dr Ariel Haus (drhausdermatology.com) – a Brazilian dermatologist, who divides his time between his clinics in London and Ipanema, Brazil.
Brazilian women are also taking inspiration from the catwalks and becoming more experimental with their make-up. “When we opened here eight years ago, if you mentioned the word foundation, customers shook their heads as they would only apply powder,” recalls Fabiana Gomes, a senior artist at Mac, who manages the brand’s make-up store at São Paulo’s upmarket Morumbi mall. “They preferred neutral lipstick colours, but nowadays women with red lips are seen as cool, and bright eyeshadows are very much in fashion.”
Brazilian women may like to look tanned, but they employ a less-is-more approach when it comes to their make-up choices. “Women want to hear how natural and radiant their skin looks – not be asked what foundation they are wearing,” Gomes adds. To achieve a similar glow on our less sunny shores, Gomes advises prepping the skin with a moisturiser and primer, before brushing on a liquid foundation, only where necessary. To create a Brazilian tan-effect, contour the cheekbones with Mac Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Give Me Sun (£18.50, maccosmetics.co.uk), or a colour that is one or two shades darker than your foundation. Finish by dabbing highlighter along the cheekbones, in a colour close to your natural skintone.
One part of the Brazilian ideal which Stylist hopes doesn’t catch on in the UK, however, is the Brazilian woman’s insatiable quest for the perfect body. It has made plastic surgery a multibillion dollar industry in the country, which boasts over 5,000 registered surgeons, many of whom have become world authorities in the field. Around 50,000 people jet into Brazil each year for procedures – making it a global hotbed for cosmetic tourism. A staggering 95% of Brazilian women want to change their bodies and the majority of women will consider going under the knife.
Women go to the beach to be seen. They don’t want to be skinny – they want to define every part of their body
“Body fat is unacceptable in Brazil,” says plastic surgeon Dr Sampaio Goes, a favourite among the São Paulo elite. “We have an outdoor lifestyle and women go to the beach to be seen. They don’t want to be skinny – they want to define every part of their body.” Instead of resorting to surgery, we should take our lead from their less invasive options, such as the Brazilian body-shaping massage. Masseurs use long, brisk strokes to sculpt the limbs and flush out bloat-causing toxins. For a similar effect, book the Bliss Spa Lymphatic Drainage (£92 for 60 minutes, blissworld.co.uk).
The beauty world is waking up to Brazil and the trends that emerge from the country could shape the products and treatments we buy for years to come. Clearly, its beauty industry has more to offer than just the infamous Brazilian wax. Central to this is the new generation of astute and assertive Brazilian women. “They’re so committed to beauty. Looking good brings them joy,” says Gavrelis. “The Brazilian woman is diverse. By studying her and being close to her, we begin to understand the beauty microcosm of tomorrow.”
Picture credits: Rex Features