Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Highlight from the Past: Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java

Given the fact that I adore history, there is nothing more exciting than the ability to reach out and touch the past. Though vintage cosmetics and their ornate packaging are beautiful to look at, I'm sure we can all agree that actually applying them would be ill advised. But a new product directly inspired by a brand's past grand dame, reformulated and repackaged for modern markets ... well this would truly be a history and makeup lovers dream.

In celebration of 150 years of success as a cosmetic company Bourjois has relaunched a product that made them famous in the height of the nineteenth century, Poudre de Riz de Java. This gem from the makeup past was the cosmetic world's first highlighter. Marketed to achieve a complexion "frais comme une rose," Bourjois sold nearly two million Poudre de Riz a year at the beginning of the last century. Although Bourjois is no longer available in the United States, I had to have it and enlisted the assistance of the lovely Kelly (@JellyMinx on Twitter) to help me obtain this highlight from the Bourjois archives. 


Repackaged from the original metal tin to more convenient and modern plastic, Bourjois retained all of the original charm of the packaging released with this product in the nineteenth century. Although this illuminating powder contains rose extract, it is perfumed with another throwback to the past: violet. If you're familiar with Choward's Violet Mints then you'll know exactly the kind of violet I'm talking about. I personally adore the fragrance.


The powder itself is as lovely as one might expect. Slightly less finely milled than modern subtle illuminators such as Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, this loose Poudre de Riz achieves the same effect. Though some of the highlight is a bit large to be applied across the face (some pieces read as glitter rather than a natural glow), it's not hard to see what made this product such a success. In a time when average women sought to hide their use of cosmetic products, Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java provided a natural "dewy" complexion that we still seek to this day.


I'm smitten, and so happy I went "à la recherche du temps perdu" ("in search of lost time," to borrow from Marcel Proust) to find this historical treasure. Much like the ladies who first purchased and popularized this powder, I too love the look of a healthy glow as "fresh as a rose." I'd love to see more brands follow suit and relaunch products that made our grandmothers and great grandmothers flock to drug stores and department stores in the same way we run to Sephora!

Have you tried Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java?