The Story Behind The Most Used Image in the Beauty Industry

Samantha Johnson

by Samantha Johnson | May 17, 2012 @ 11:00AM

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Carmen - THE FACE*Disclaimer: Well we are not certain it is the most used image in the beauty industry, but it is pretty darn close! has some great tips on how to select the perfect photo for your website. They say that the photo you choose should illustrate the benefits of the content or product you are trying to sell, and it should encourage users to continue clicking through the site. Their first criteria is, “Subject should be immediately recognizable” which is ironically becoming quite true of our featured image, brought to us originally from iStockphoto.


“Subject should be immediately recognizable” 




The subject in question is a woman possibly in her mid-to-late twenties who, according to, has been seen on hundreds of sites. Because of licensing restrictions, the name of the model cannot be provided, so we'll just call her Carmen.

Carmen has been most commonly featured on websites that feature makeup products, cosmetic procedures and skin treatments. But some of the more unusual sites include businesses like radio stations, hair salons and dating websites; subjects like fashion and breast cancer awareness; and products such as iPhone apps, lotions and, last but not least, “The Amazing Kegel Master.”

But why is this image so popular? Surprisingly, Carmen's blank stare and rather expressionless face make her image versatile. Just like the Mona Lisa, there is just no way of explaining what she could be thinking. Virtually any content could be paired with her face, and it could make some sort of sense.

We know little about Carmen except that this photo was taken on Oct. 4, 2007 by Katja de Bruijn whose work at Iconogenic photography has been featured in Marie Claire, Vogue, Advanced Photoshop, Revlon, Max Factor, Mitsubishi and Sony and many other world class brands. That same day she posed for other photos focused on Indian fashion.

This image is probably most common for skin care and beauty sites because the photo is a headshot, her skin looks flawless, and she is wearing little makeup which gives more of a natural feel. Her hair is pinned back, drawing more attention to her face. The photo is also well-lit and in focus. In some of the re-edited versions of this picture, Carmen is seen with ¼ to ½ of her face cropped, and she is seen pictured with cosmetic products, text, or additional makeup.

Usually, when a photo “goes viral” it's a good thing. But when the same photo is used on the homepage of hundreds of websites, it can send the message that your company lacks originality. Onextrapixel warns about using cliché images, and with Carmen's face plastered across the internet, we believe her image falls into that category.

You can find Carmen on iStock or tineye websites. We have also featured her in our own personal meme character where you can follow on our Facebook.

Here are a few links Carmen is featured on.

Oh...and :)

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