The classic Dove Beauty Bar has been a staple of women’s beauty regimens since it was first introduced in the 1950s. For decades they’ve touted their classic little white bar “with one-quarter moisturizing cream” as a less-drying alternative to soap (Dove is technically not soap, since they remove the glycerin that is a natural by-product of soap and replace it with other moisturizers). Dove was also a staple in my family’s house when I was growing up. I remember seeing the boxes of Dove in my mother’s linen closet. I’ve always loved soap, and those bars had a special allure for me. I couldn’t wait until it was time to open a new bar, because then I could tear off the paper wrapper, rip open the box, and release the white, creamy, scented goodness that lurked within. I also loved the curved shape of the bar. It fit perfectly in the hand, making it more fun to use.
Dove has come a long way since that little white beauty bar. Today Dove is the Number One cleansing brand in America. They offer not only the classic beauty bar, but a variety of skin, hair, and body care products. In 2004, Dove pioneered their “Campaign for Real Beauty” campaign. For decades, skincare and makeup companies had been promising to make women look more beautiful if they purchased their products. Dove went against conventional advertising practices, and began to celebrate women for who they really are, no matter how young or how old they are. They also set up the Self-Esteem Fund to promote self-esteem among young women. Today Dove teaches young girls that beauty has no conventional standard, nor an age limit. And I still wash my face with that little white beauty bar.
Clairol’s Skin Machine was a motorized facial exfoliating brush that gave your skin a deeper cleanse than soap and water alone. It was better than a washcloth too! In the commerical above (you’ll have to get through the Head Start hair vitamins ad first), you can see how versatile and convenient the Skin Machine really was. Use it while talking on the phone! Use it in your funky yet extremely tiny bathtub! Use it to take off makeup from the high school play! Heck, even the kids love it!
I had the Skin Machine when I was in 7th grade. I remember a commercial for the Skin Machine from around that time that featured a girl in a combat helmet, using the Skin Machine to fight the battle against acne. I think the Skin Machine came with a tiny bar of soap that was really drying. I used the Skin Machine with a bar of classic Neutrogena soap.
In the age of advanced skin care technology, Clairol’s Skin Machine may be obsolete, but the idea was innovative for its time. Without the Skin Machine, newfangled skin care gadgets such as the Clarisonic might not exist. It’s like the Sony Walkman paving the way for the iPod.
Camay soap has been around since 1926. The distinctive pink bar with the profile of a woman’s head has been a staple of many women’s beauty regimens for generations. When I was a kid, Camay was an important part of my bath time routine. I remember watching an episode of “The Sonny and Cher Show” in which Cher made a joke about scratching the word “Camay” into the soap with her fingernail in the bath. I could totally relate because I did that too! The woman’s profile on the bar of Camay has changed over the years to reflect the hairstyles of the times. In the Seventies, she had a full, short bob haircut that was tapered to a point at the ends.
They still make Camay, although it’s become increasingly hard to find. Drugstore.com sells it, and based on the customer reviews, Camay has got quite the loyal following. I recently bought a bar, just for old time’s sake. Although the profile on the bar has changed dramatically, the smell instantly brought back memories of my childhood.
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.
Bonne Bell sure had a goldmine on their hands in the Seventies with Lip Smackers. Every girl I knew in junior high had at least one. My friends and I had several. These were the days before everyone and their mother were marketing lip balms, so the only choices were Lip Smackers and ChapStik. So naturally Lip Smackers were a huge hit with young girls. In those days Lip Smackers used to come in giant sizes as well as the regular size of lip balm tubes. There’s even an episode of Rhoda where Rhoda and her family are trapped somewhere, I think it was a cabin, without food. Rhoda pulls out her giant Strawberry Lip Smacker and tells everyone not to worry.
For a while in the Nineties, Lip Smackers had lost the “je ne sais quois” that had made them so much fun. Most of the branded food or soda flavors, like Dr. Pepper and Good ‘n Plenty, disappeared. The flavors that remained were the usual fruit flavors, which were kind of boring. But today it looks as though Bonne Bell is trying to restore Lip Smackers to their former glory in a market glutted with lip balms. I noticed some of the soda flavors like Dr. Pepper and 7 Up are back, although I still miss Bubblegum and Birthday Cake. The larger size has even returned, at least with the Dr. Pepper flavor, although it doesn’t look as big as I remember it, which means either it’s smaller than it used to be, or I’m bigger than I used to be.