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A forgotten fact: beauty has not always been gendered! Historically, fragrances and beauty rituals appealed just as much to men as to women. Until the end of the 19th century, cultural norms meant that moisturizers, blush, make-up, powders, beauty spots, dyes, wigs and perfumes were used regardless of gender. In the 20th century, the arrival of designers on the luxury perfumes scene, as well as the mass consumption of cosmetics, have resulted in the gradual differentiation: one set of products for women and another for men.
In the mid-90′s, Calvin Klein brought gender mixing back to the forefront. With cK One, he achieved a masterstroke, by launching a perfume for everyone, with no gender distinction: a fragrance designed to be like a white t-shirt or a pair of jeans, a ‘lowest common denominator’, just as globalization was gathering speed. The unisex marketing myth was born. In the wake of cK One’s success, simple, minimal, functional cosmetics did very well. Kiehl’s, for example, saw a huge increase in sales before the brand was bought by L’Oréal in 2000.


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