Tag Archive | vintage beauty ads

1948 Coty Holiday Gift Ad Featuring Glamorous Traina Norell Evening Gown


Coty, famous worldwide cosmetics manufacturer, was founded in Paris in 1904 and is still in operation today. During the 1940s they established the Coty American Fashion Critics Award to help  promote and encourage American fashion designers. One of the first designers to receive this prestigious award was Norman Norell, the designing half of the Traina Norell clothing label.

I discovered this festive holiday Coty Cosmetics ad from 1948, featuring a most glamorous and elegant red evening gown design by the talented Mr Norell. The ad, titled So Very Christmas,  showcases Coty gift sets, which include perfume and makeup ensembles in the classic fragrances  of Paris, Emeraude, L’Origan and L’Aimant.   I love the vintage packaging, especially the little carillon bells housing three different bottles of perfume. Adorable!  And the gown, well heck, who wouldn’t love to have something like that to wear for a grand holiday party?


coty ad traina norell dress dec 1948

1948 Coty Christmas Ad featuring glamorous Traina Norell red evening gown

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The Facts on Max Factor


Everyone is familiar with the brand. But do you know how the most famous cosmetics company started? Max Factor is considered the father of modern makeup and the company he built literally changed the face of cosmetics history.  He built a giant cosmetics empire with its roots in the  film industry.   Though the business no longer operates in the US,  Max Factor was a household name for decades, bringing the glamour of  Hollywood stars to women the world over.

Originally a chemist, Max Factor became fascinated with cosmetics, opening his first shop in Moscow  selling his hand made rouges, creams, fragrances and wigs.   In 1904 he became the official beautician and wigmaker to the Russian Royal Family.

He moved his family to LA in 1908, where he opened a cosmetics and wig shop in the theater district.  In the early years of film it was very difficult for actors and actresses to find make up that was appropriate for wear on  the big screen.  The greasepaint worn for the stage was much too thick and didn’t hold up well under studio lighting.  Determined to make a mark in the film industry he worked his magic and created a special  make up that  would look more natural on film and  not crack or cake under the hots lights of a movie set.   More and more actors and actresses started showing  up at his shop eager to try his new “flexible greasepaint”.

After Max Factor’s death in 1938, the company was taken over by his son  where he continued the business of being the top innovator in the beauty industry.

Here’s an abbreviated list of products pioneered by Max Factor.

1914-First makeup to give more natural look on film.
1918-Color Harmony, a face powder line in many shades to allow customizing.
1925-Supreme Nail Polish, a powder that was sprinkled on the nails and buffed off to give them tint and shine.
1930-Introduced lipgloss
1937- Introduced Pan Cake Makeup for color film and in 1938 a concealer called  Erace.
1940-True Color smearproof lipstick
1948- Pan Stick Makeup
1971-First waterproof makeup

Because of his strong link to Hollywood, most of  the advertisements  for the company consisted of endorsements by famous actresses.

1940-Maureen O’Hara  in RKO Radio’s “Dance, Girls, Dance” endorses Max Factor Hollywood Face Powder, Tru Color Lipstick and Rouge.

Maureen o Hara max factor 1940

 With the advent of Technicolor in films actors and actresses needed a new makeup that would flatter them in color.  Many of them refused to appear in color films because the old style makeup didn’t show them in their best light. So Max Factor created Pan Cake Makeup. It was so popular workers would steal it off of movie sets for personal use.  So eventually it was made available to the public  and it ended up becoming the best selling foundation in history.  You can still purchase it online and many women swear it gives a flawless finish, but takes some practice to apply correctly.   If  anyone reading this blog has used it, let me know how you liked it. I’m curious to try.

Claudette Colbert in Max Factor Ad 1943

Claudette Colbert in Max Factor Pan Cake Makeup Ad 1943


Ginger Rogers Max Factor 1944

Ginger Rogers Max Factor Pan Cake Makeup 1944


Loretta Young Max Factor 1947

Loretta Young Max Factor Ad 1945

Barbara Stanwyck Max Factor Ad 1947

Barbara Stanwyck Max Factor Ad 1947

Lana Turner Max Factor Ad 1951

Lana Turner Max Factor Ad 1951

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Ladies Home Journal-June 1945-Beauty Ads


This next post covers ads for beauty products in the June 1945 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Very often famous actresses were  used to sell cosmetics and at the same time promote their latest film.  Here’s Donna Reed for Max Factor red lipsticks in Blonde, Brunette, Brownette, and Redhead. She was appearing in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

donna reed

Donna Reed for Max Factor-1945 ad Ladies Home Journal

Here’s Paulette Goddard saying “Lux Soap facials every day make skin lovlier”. She was starring in the film “Kitty” at that time.  According to the ad “9 out of 10 screen stars use it!”  It also says 3 out of 4 complexions improved in a short time. Who knows?  But I do love her hair style and the orchid corsage pinned on her dress.

Paula Goddard for Lux Soap Ad-June 1945

Paula Goddard for Lux Soap Ad-June 1945

Just in case you’re thinking red was the only nail polish color back in the 40s,  think again.  What girls consider trendy, high fashion shades in nail color today were already being worn back then. I love the exotic names, black lustre, blue dragon, royal plum, heavenly mauve, green dragon, black sapphire and ming yellow.  Or how about some dragon’s blood or frozen fire?

Chen Yu Nail Polish Ad-June 1945 Ladies Home Journal

Chen Yu Nail Polish Ad-June 1945 Ladies Home Journal

And no amount of glamming yourself up with lipstick, nail polish, a swanky outfit and a lux complexion will  get you a beau if you have “halitosis”.

This dramatic ad for Listerine reads like a romance novel. “This was the night I had dreamed about for weeks, the gay places we would go,  the sweetness of seeing him, for three whole days on his first furlow since our love at first sight meeting. And now, what a rude awakening! Home before midnight, after an evening which began romantically enough and then grew strained and different! What had I said to him?…what could I have done to change his attitude from one of warmth and admiration to cool indifference?

The diagnosis- “When a woman attracts one day and repels the next, something must be wrong. The answer in this case, as in so many others, was halitosis(bad breath) This social offense puts one in the worst possible light and nips many a romance in the bud.”

Really? She’s got a hot date with some horny soldier on furlough and he’s going to dump her off because her breath isn’t fresh enough?  Hardly. But I bet this ad sold a lot of Listerine!

listerine ad

Stay tuned for  pictures of  mid century modern home interiors from 1945.  They’re so cool!

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