The Skin You're In

I visited a 21st-century hairstylist the other day to have my bob trimmed. It took me a while to find one, as I was looking for a "beauty parlor" with a trained "beauty operator" or "hairdresser" but apparently no one calls them that anymore. "Stylist" is the preferred term now. It's so interesting to me how language changes over time!

Anyway, I finally bagged my quarry, as it were, and while she combed and clipped, I leafed through a current fashion magazine. I hardly know where to start in my commentary on modern fashions, and believe me, I'll have more to say about this later, but I'll start with skin.

Gracious! Never in my life have I seen so many skincare preparations advertised. Cleansers, toners, exfoliators, clarifiers, moisturizers, emulsifiers, serums, eye creams, filler-inners, plumper-uppers . . . honestly, a girl could spend her entire wage on nothing but potions to fix what's wrong with her face!

Not that we are without beauty preparations here in the 1920s. Far from it! Pond's Cold Cream is a favorite of mine. Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein are both going strong. But we don't have nearly the selection that you 2015 girls do.

My grandma swore that a clear complexion could be obtained by washing one's face with the first snow that fell in April. In Illinois, April snow is a common sight. I don't know what our dear sisters in the South and other hot places do about this. No doubt they have their own special secrets--orchid blossom tonic or some such--that are off limits to us northerners. And maybe "October snow" applies to those of you in the southern hemisphere. But I'm wandering off topic.

Grandma also said that a "good constitution"--by which she meant good digestion--led to a clear, soft, velvety complexion. Here's what a beauty adviser in 1925* had to say about skincare from the inside out. (Sounds a lot like my grandma's advice!)

"The bad complexion can almost invariably be traced to poor digestion and its attendant evils--constipation, sluggish circulation, or torpid liver due to lack of sufficient outdoor exercise. . . . As a first aid in clearing the skin, it is necessary that you eat only such foods as agree with you and are easily digested, and that you get as much healthful outdoor exercise as is possible. Restore the digestive organs to their natural functioning and correct the sluggish circulation by the proper amount of exercise, the best form of which is a brisk walk, with arms swinging freely, head erect, chest thrown out, and breathing deeply. . . . There is nothing else which will so quickly bring back the natural color to the face insofar as it can be done by stimulating the circulation, or that will give so keen an appetite for wholesome food, thereby correcting digestive ills. 

"Drink plenty of water. A good plan is to drink a glass of water the first thing upon arising in the morning. Drink part of a glassful with your breakfast, but not while eating your food. At least two good sized full glasses of water should be drunk during the forenoon. During the afternoon it is advisable to drink three or more glassfuls and perhaps three during the evening and just before retiring. This may seem an usual amount of water to drink daily, but your system needs it to keep properly flushed and prevent the accumulation of toxic poisons.

"As regards the matter of food, only a few general instructions are necessary. Briefly stated, they are to avoid an overindulgence in sweets, rich pastries, etc. Eat meat sparingly, avoiding fat meats. Cultivate a liking for vegetables and make them the principal part of your diet, especially green vegetables such as string beans, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and combinations of these in salads. Eat sparingly of potatoes and white bread. Drink milk and eat plenty of eggs. After your complexion has been completely cleared of all its sallowness and other disfigurements, you may, of course return to a more normal indulgence in the foods above mentioned. As long as you do not over-indulge and keep up a reasonable amount of outdoor exercise, no harm will result."

(*from "The Famous Book of Beauty Secrets," published by the Women's Home and Personal Library Service of the Chicago Mailorder Company, 1925)

So there you have it! Beware the torpid liver! Exercise, water, proper diet--much cheaper than a $90 face cream, no?

How do you keep your complexion smooth and velvety?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please remain civil, and bear in mind what Emily Post wrote in 1923: "The letter you write, whether you realize it or not, is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste and character. . . . A "sloppy" letter proclaims the sort of person who would have unkempt hair, unclean linen and broken shoe laces."