American Beauty #1: Tracie Martyn and Kate Somerville

Two names I keep coming across in American beauty publications are Kate Somerville and Tracie Martyn. Tracie Martyn is apparently Hollywood’s Favourite Beauty Secret (I'm pretty sure I saw her in the Little Black Book of Beauty). Featured everywhere and stocked in Bergdorf’s, this natural, organic, anti-ageing skin care is yet another line championed by flawless faces from the city of angels. This English Rose (yep, you heard right… she’s from Blighty) has quotes on her site from Cyndi Lauper to Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet (Cyndi uses the Firming Serum, Susan the Enzyme Exfoliant and Kate the LotuSculpt Activator). Vogue UK has covered her transforming Resculpting Facial (all the way back in 2001). For a small brand she sure seems to have staying power.

The same goes for Kate Somerville, an LA-based doctor. She champions something called the Skin Health Pyramid and her ExfoliKate seems to get the highest marks. I'd love to do a trial and compare it to my all-time favourite face scrub by Kirsty Mcleod. Jessica Alba, Paris Hilton, Sandra Oh and Debra Messing are all clients. You can look through her hero prods here.

The thing about these two is that they've been around for a while despite the industry, not because of it. Like a few of the others going it alone that we know of (Vaishaly, Sarah Chapman, Kirsty Mcleod, Nichola Joss et al), it's amazing to see them succeed and do so stupendously in an industry that -- for all the wanton girliness it exudes -- is rather cut throat and nearly impossible for small brands to navigate.

How does a brand garner staying power, how does it dig its hooks into the meaty underbelly of the industry and hold on for dear life? Is there a formula? Or is it that their products simply work. Do you use Tracie and Kate's skincare, and what do you think of it? Life-changing?

What makes some brands stick while others don't even leave the faintest whisper of a trace on your gray matter? What brand or logo is the beauty equivalent of the famous (and very sticky) golden arches? Is it the 'Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline' shtick? Maybe it's the ones with the most shtick...