In the days where highlighting, contouring and strobing are the hottest makeup techniques, it’s refreshing to be reminded that beauty doesn’t have to be complicated. Often times, in fact, simplicity can be far more elegant. And Besame Cosmetics founder Gabriella Hernandez is proving just that.

With a passion for pigments from the past, the self-proclaimed “makeup detective” is using her artistic eye to bring the glittering glamour of history vibrantly to life through her vintage collection. Her goal: to enable every woman to feel empowered, feminine and elegant without trapping her genuine beauty under layers of product.

Her mentality for capturing organic beauty spurs from childhood memories of her grandmother’s routine.

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“I think as far as what stood out to me was really more the simplicity of the whole routine rather than what it is that she did. How it was kind of a ritual and it was very simplistic; it didn’t involve a lot of product, but it was actually something that she did every day,” Hernandez explains. “It wasn’t so multi-step like things are now, where we have so many products that people tell you you have to use to look a certain way.”

As she delved deeper into turning her dream into a reality, Gabriella drew from her historian background to hone her brand’s focus to encompass eras ranging from the 20s to the 50s, where classic beauty was the staple and lips were the main attraction.

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“My idea with Besame was to kind of go back to the roots of things and see what we actually really need and all the stuff that we do not need,” says Gabriella, “and just kind of go back to the main things that really worked for people.”

And what works more universally for women than lipstick? With their shiny, gilded cases painted with flowing red letters, Besame’s top-ranked lipstick collection (it’s a number one seller at Sephora) highlights the most popular shades from each specific era.

“We have colors that are really, really significant because they either tell you, you know, what the suffrage people were wearing or what the flapper was actually wearing when she went out or what they were wearing during World War II to go with the uniform. So we take iconic products that have some sort of historical significance and we make those colors again.”

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But why is red such a standout shade (besides adding a dramatic flare to your smile, of course)? Gabriella points out that the staying power of this shade is partially due to the fact that it was really the only color available for a very long time. But red isn’t just a color for Gabriella, it’s powerful—a concept, an influencer.

“Color has a way of altering your mood,” she says. “When you feel depressed, everything kind of looks grayish, so by adding a bit of color you instantly lift your spirits a bit and you feel better. It makes you feel more powerful to wear red because you know people are going to notice. It’s a very, very powerful shade and it’s in everything. It’s a very organic color. It’s in our system—in our blood—it’s really very much a color that signifies vibrancy in life.”

From first ladies to royalty, women in power have worn their confidence on their lips for centuries. In fact, Gabriella believes if you’re a woman in power, you should be enhancing your status with this hue. “It definitely changes your perception and how other people perceive you. Because if you wear red lips, you’re telling other people that you are in control. You want the attention and you can handle it—that’s what you’re saying when you’re putting on red.”

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Because red is such a powerful shade, it can be a bit intimidating. If you are feeling shy about a full-blown crimson pout, Gabriella recommends starting out with something more sheer, like their Sweetheart Glaze in Cherry. You can also create the same stain with one of their cheek rouges, like Apricot Cream Rouge, which acts as both a cheek and lip stain (because who doesn’t love two-for-ones?). Or if you want to take the next step, since their lipsticks are incredibly rich and pigmented, try dabbing a deeper, more neutral tone, such as Red Velvet (the shade Hayley Atwell sported throughout the whole season of Agent Carter), across your lips and gently blot. This will create more of a stain effect.

If you are feeling daring and want a dramatic burst of color, Besame’s 1920s Red (a vibrant, semi-matte shade with a blue undertone) will give you a Marilyn Monroe worthy smile. But just like Monroe’s memory, keep your lips lasting by using this trick Gabriella swears by: Use the translucent powder, like her French Vanilla or Violet Brightening Powder, and dust it gently over your freshly coated lips with a small brush. This will set your lipstick, so it won’t fade as the day progresses!

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Gabriella also recommends using a lip brush with a cap. This way you can load up the bristles with your favorite lipstick, close the cap and drop it in your purse. No more risking your favorite lipstick shade’s life in the heat or having it accidentally fall out of your purse in a rush. Pretty genius, right?

If you can’t decide on a shade, keep an eye out for her holiday lipstick set that will be sold exclusively at Sephora. Along with a new blush (it was the trendiest color on the market back in 1915!) that will be launching this spring.

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