Vintage skincare and beauty!

The Smithsonian museum has made their archive of historical beauty products public! The collection contains photos and information on balms & salves, as well as make-up, fragrances, and more.

Perusing the collection is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and it’s really interesting to see how products and design have changed – or haven’t.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve still looks the same, for example.

 

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Smith’s Rosebud Salve

For “Chapped lips, face and hands, minor burns and scalds, bites and stings of non-poisonous insects”

 


 

Mentholatum, now owned by Japan’s Rohto (the makers of those minty-fresh eyedrops) is famous for their lip balms, decongestant rub, and ointments for sore muscles.

 

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Mentholatum Tin

“Try Mentholatum for Head Colds, After-Shaving, Chapped Skin, Cracked Lips, Sunburn, Burns”

 


 

Yardley is one of the first companies to specialize in beauty products, established in 1770.

 

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Yardley Complexion Milk

“A liquid skin cream, smooth & refreshing. Brings elasticity & lustre to a dried skin and forms a perfect face powder base.”

 


 

Petrolatum was “discovered” by Robert Chesebrough, after he noticed oil field workers rubbing the jelly on their hands to help heal wounds.

 

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Vaseline Tube

 


 

Maybelline was commercialized by a 19 year old boy after he noticed his sister, Mabel, mixing vaseline with coal tar and using the mixture to coat her lashes.

 

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Maybelline Cake Mascara

 


 

Gel cream blushes are making their way back into popularity, but this one was made back in the ’70s by Love Cosmetics, which was owned by a company which later became GlaxoSmithKline.

 

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Love’s Cheek Gel in Pink Bronze

 


 

This liquid hose was meant to even out the skin tone of the legs, much like Sally Hansen’s modern aerosol version.

 

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Vida-Ray Liquid Hose, Toasted Beige

 

I found an advertisement for this product in the 1945 Milwaukee Journal. During World War II, cosmetics became a luxury and some women used gravy browning to replace the now rare liquid hose.

 

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There’s so too many other interesting finds to go through them all, but I’ve put some of my other top picks in this gallery.

 

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One Hundred Assorted Beauty Spots by Johnson and Johnson
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Zuane La Parot Rouge, Medium by Zuane Parfumers
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Chen Yu Cloud Silk Make Up, Light Lotus #1 by Richard Hudnut
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Jergens Face Powder, Pink Frosting by Andrew Jergens Company
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Pond’s Make-up Pat, Peach by Pond’s Extract Company
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Pearlized Chili Pepper Nail Hardener Enamel
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Emile Mascara Remover
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Airspun Face Powder, Suntan Golden Tone by Coty
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Touch & Glow Liquid Makeup, Sun Bronze by Revlon
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Pure Magic Super Cover Stick, Natural Fair by Max Factor and Company
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Mary Kay Lip and Eye Palette by Mary Kay Inc., made in 1964
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