Young ‘n Free was a line of bodycare products aimed at teenaged girls who were “just learning to be pretty.” I didn’t know being pretty was something you learned, but whatevs. Young ‘n Free promised to take girls from tomboy to teenaged with their line of hair care products, deodorant, bubble bath, and cologne. The ad above, from 1970, shows a tween-aged girl trying on a sophisticated party dress over her tomboyish jeans and moccasins. Our little girl is growing up so fast! But take a closer look. Is this the girl who invented the “dress over jeans” look that girls today are sporting?
And check out the psychedelic product packaging! The pretty pink, green and blue bottles with white flowers were sure to grab the attention of the average teenaged girl. I miss skincare and makeup lines that are designed to be cute enough to appeal to young girls, such as Love’s Baby Soft or Tinkerbell. They made being a kid, or more specifically, a girl kid, more fun. Girls of today are more sophisticated than girls in the Seventies. Born and raised during the age of technology, influenced by cable television and the Internet, they might allow their attention to be diverted from their text messaging just long enough to scoff at a bar of pink soap or bottles with flowers on them. Then again, Sephora just came out with a Hello Kitty line of makeup, so perhaps girls of today aren’t that different after all.
And in case you’re wondering, I purchased several items of the Helly Kitty makeup from Sephora, allowing me to relive that childhood pleasure of buying cute, gender-specific personal care products.
Fashion Fair is a line of makeup that specifically caters to the needs of African American women. In the Seventies, most makeup companies didn’t offer foundation shades for deeper complexions. Fashion Fair rectified that. An article from the Monday, June 29, 1970 edition of Time Magazine reflected on the new cosmetic lines created to address the problems women of color faced when purchasing cosmetics. An ad from 1976 shows Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, then “just a soul singer from Detroit,” extolling the virtues of Fashion Fair makeup. Both Fashion Fair and Aretha Franklin would become icons within their respective industries.
Fashion Fair cosmetics was started in 1973 by Eunice Walker Johnson. Eunice was the wife of publisher John H. Johnson. Together Eunice and her husband founded Ebony magazine in 1945 to cater to the interests of African Americans. A sister publication, Jet, was started in 1951. In 1956, Eunice started the Ebony Fashion Fair, a fashion show featuring haute couture fashions from around the world. It started as a fundraiser for a hospital and quickly became an annual traveling show to benefit many charities. The show used only African American models, and also featured upcoming African American desigers such as James Daugherty and Stephany Burrows. The Ebony Fashion Fair ran from 1956 until 2008. There were plans for a 2009 show, but the show was abruptly cancelled, a casualty of the poor economy. Eunice Walker Johnson died in 2010 at the age of 93.
Maybelline Kissing Potions were the first roll-on lip glosses. They came in an assortment of flavors, and early advertisements suggested reserving a different flavor for each boyfriend. Since I was a pre-teen in those days, I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I loved Kissing Potions nonetheless. I would buy them at my local five and ten store, which was the source of much of my Seventies’ beauty products. Come to think of it, it was the source of pretty much everything that I bought in the Seventies.
It’s interesting to note how the ads for Kissing Potion have shifted gears within a couple of years to target a different demographic. The ad above (c. 1975) plays to the sweet and innocent high school girl, complete with football-team-captain boyfriend. By 1977, disco had exploded onto the social scene. The ad below evokes the slick, sophisticated Disco Diva, her lips parted suggestively as she applies her Kissing Potion over her seductive red lipstick. I’m sure that didn’t stop many teens and pre-teens from buying Kissing Potion, but it’s comforting to know that Kissing Potions could take you from High School to Studio 54 without missing a beat.