Billie Burke was a well-known Broadway actress when she contributed this story to Chicago’s Day Book in 1913, back when she was just 28 years old. But it wasn’t until a quarter century later that she played the role for which she’s best known: Glinda the Good Witch from the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Billie Burke says it’s all right to make up your face — but make it look as if nature did it

More than half of the letters I receive from my male correspondents say, “Please, Miss Burke, tell the girls not to use any make-up.” They seem to think that if a girl is healthy she will be beautiful.

You can be healthy without being beautiful, but you cannot be beautiful without being healthy. Consequently a judicious amount of artistic beautifying is not only permissible, but necessary, if a woman would appear her best.

No man should rail against women using powder, as in every barber shop nowadays, powder is rubbed into the faces of the patrons after a shave.

I see no reason why a woman should allow her eyebrows to meet over her eyes or to show long, ugly scraggly hairs at the corners, when she can pull them out or even shave them off. Of course, some men might object to this if they knew their wives did it, but “wifey” might retort by asking, “Why do you shave the back of your neck? Aren’t you, as well as I, trying to improve upon nature?”

Tomorrow after you have taken your bath, splash cold water all over your face and then take a piece of ice in a cheesecloth rag and rub it all over your face and neck until you have brought the blood to the surface. You will find this will brighten your eyes as well as freshen your complexion. Now plaster your face and neck with a pure cold cream. Don’t be stingy with it; rub it in with soft upward and circular strokes and wipe off all the superfluous cream.

>> Makeup secrets from actress Blanche Bates (1913)

If you find that your ice and cream have not given you enough color, you can put just a very little rouge on each cheek. Most women who use rouge use the kind that comes in colored grease sticks. Put a little dab upon each cheek near the eyes and a tiny bit on your chin. Now take a clean bit of cloth and softly spread this upward toward the eyes and off toward the ears.

Some girls use a little rouge on their ears, as a tinted cheek and white ear is apt to make one look tubercular or anemic. Carefully examine your face in a hand glass to see that it is not in any way “patchy,” then dust your face and neck all over with powder — and again, don’t be stingy.

After this, take your eyebrow brush and carefully brush put your eyebrows and wipe off your lashes with a tiny cloth between your thumb and forefinger.

If your eyebrows are light in color, or thin, apply a little mascara, which is a watercolor and perfectly harmless. You can buy it at any drug store!

If your lips are pale, apply a little of the tinted cold cream. This will be good for them as well, as making them look better. Leave all your powder on until after you have combed your hair, then take a powder puff — or better, the soft little brush which is used on a baby’s hair — and brush off all the superfluous powder, using upward strokes until the very last, then going over the whole face quickly with down strokes.

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I’ll wager after all this is done, if you do it carefully, the grimmest-eyed old bachelor will not be able to detect the slightest your makeup, and he will probably go around telling everybody what a pretty girl you are — so natural and unartificial.

Go ahead, girls, and do everything you can to enhance your beauty — but remember that the cleverest and almost always the prettiest girl is the one who makes her look like nature at her best.


About this story

Source publication: The Day Book (Chicago, Ill.)

Source publication date: March 15, 1913

Filed under: 1910s, Beauty & fashion, Celebrities & famous people, For women

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