Monday, February 28, 2011

Turn-of-the-century Beauty


"THE CHEEKS AND LIPS PAINTED A SCARLET beyond anything nature would ever give is bad taste at any time, and is an index to a vain and foolish heart, and will not be found in beautiful girlhood."   

That's surprising advice given that this quote comes from Girlhood, a volume published in 1922. No doubt the author hoped to thwart girls' and women's increasing acceptance of cosmetics. Horrors!

But by then most women had thrown off the idea that cosmetics were sinful and had been wearing "lip rouge" for decades. Indeed, when men shipped out for World War I, many women took jobs and, with a few more coins in their purses, sometimes splurged on cosmetics — the term "makeup" wasn't invented until Max Factor coined it a decade or so later. What else could women place on their beauty shopping lists at the turn of the century?

• Safer powders and eye shadows  — previous versions often contained lead, nightshade or vermillion, a sulfide poisonous when ingested
• Various scented soaps, including Fairy soap — "in a class above all other toilet and bath soaps"
• Tinted nail powders and creams, including Graf's Hyglo nail polish paste, for buffing nails
• Dozens of perfumes, including those from longtime-maker Guerlain — Jicky, Champs Élysées (Paris was cool to use in marketing back then too) and, by 1925, Shalimar, my mom's favorite
• Antiperspirants and deodorants — previously, perfumes were used to mask body odor
• A "makeover," a wholly new concept, at an Elizabeth Arden salon
• Or a "Day of Beauty" at a Helena Rubinstein salon

What might they not have been buying by then? Madame Rowley's Toilet Mask, whose advertisement above was found in The Jenness Miller Magazine, January 1891. Impressively, its editor wrote in its pages that "nothing is permitted to appear in our advertising columns. . .for which the publisher is not willing to vouch." The toilet mask claims included making a face as soft and smooth as an infant's, without blemishes and wrinkles.  

Anyone know where I could get one?

1 comment:

  1. It works on the same principal of wearing rubber gloves to bed -- it holds in the moisture so your skin is damp, plump and pale in the morning. The bleaching effect, sadly, wears off within a few minutes of removing it.

    Deodorants actually were used before WW1, maybe I'll write a post about that in the future for my Gibson Girl blog -- basically they were powder or paste deodorants, of similar compositions to foot powders. They actually called the Arm-Pit Powder.