Vintage Beauty

Chanel No. 5
Chanel No. 5 Courtesy of Austin Calhoon.com

Whether the fifties is your favorite vintage beauty era or not, you have to admit 1950s style holds an unrivaled allure. As access to the fifties celebrities became more readily available and photography as an art came in to place, 50s style was dictated by the images portrayed on film and in print.

Glossy magazine ads for all the latest make-up, beauty creams, and hair products were prominently placed for the stay at home housewife’s consumption. Cosmetic giants Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden, and Helena Rubinstein led the fifties mass-marketing craze.

Women’s magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Redbook encouraged the fifties housewives to dress in their pencil or shirtwaist dresses, heels, gloves, and hats whether going to the corner market, bridge club, or PTA meetings. Their hair was to be perfectly coiffed and their make-up carefully applied while doing housework. They were cautioned to reapply their make-up before their husbands returned home from work each evening.

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Fifties Beauty Regimen

  • Fifties women considered their lipstick as much a fashion accessory as their jewelry and hats. Most wore true red lipstick colors with Dorothy Gray’s “Cherry Bounce”, Lournay’s “Bright Red”, and Revlon’s “Tournament of Roses” a few of the fifties’ favorites. Of course, their nail polish color matched their lipstick. Hazel Bishop developed and manufactured the first long-lasting lipstick in 1950.
  • The forties’ thinly plucked and penciled eyebrows gave way to more naturally shaped ones with the Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor thick and bold brow gaining popularity. Beauty magazines suggested using mascara on the upper lashes only. Maybelline’s cake mascara in the cute red box and tiny applicator brush has become a hot vintage beauty collector’s item.
  • The fifties ladies’ boudoir and vanity tables included loose and pressed face powders in pretty designer boxes and compacts. Riguard, Coty, and Angel Face were popular brands.
  • The most conscientious fifties woman carefully removed all traces of her make-up each night with Ponds and Noxzema the two leading cold cream labels. Yet many beauty bar soaps touted their products effectiveness and promised breathtaking complexions with mere soap and water. Lux and Camay were the most widely advertised.
  • Fragrance completed the beauty regimen with famed couturier Coco Chanel’s Chanel No 5 a top seller since the 1920’s. Marilyn Monroe’s reply to a 1954 interview question as to what she wore to bed was,”Five drops of Chanel No. 5.”

Many of these labels remain on the market today with their vintage beauty cosmetic products hot collector’s items still.

Retro beauty standard Camay Soap’s slogan during the fifties was “For your most beautiful complexion at every age.” The Proctor and Gamble product sponsored the soap operas “As The World Turns” and “Search For Tomorrow” with commercials like this contributing to its popularity.

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