Vintage ’30s beauty tips for an ugly duckling

Vintage 30s beauty tips for an ugly duckling (1939)

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Photoplay’s own Beauty Shop: Tips for an ugly duckling (1939)

Article from Photoplay magazine – July 1939

Radio’s “Dr. Susan” (Eleanor Phelps) undertakes to remodel an “ugly duckling” — with results that will help you, too

Photoplay beauty tips 1939

The habit of being beautiful

You know that beauty is the result of habit, that to attain beauty and keep it, you must have a regular routine, a strict regime that you follow faithfully and at stated intervals — exercise, diet, care of the skin and eyes and hair.

But you know, too, how easy it is to skip your exercises a day or so, or to give your skin just a sketchy cleansing and thereby undo a lot of your good work.

We need to be jogged daily into following the proper routine and, at last, I’ve found the perfect thing to help us. It’s a daytime radio serial that impressed me so much recently, as I know it will you, too — because it does serve as that daily reminder to you to take stock of yourselves.

Vintage beauty from 1931 - Youth vs sophistication

“The Life and Love of Dr. Susan” is the title of the program. It’s sponsored by the same people who broadcast the Lux Radio Theater every Monday night, and the particular feature that caught my interest was the attention paid to beauty problems of the modern young woman by Dr. Susan in the radio story.

Eleanor Phelps plays Dr. Susan, and in the program, she is called upon to reconstruct the appearance of her young orphan cousin, Nancy Chandler, who is suddenly thrust into her aunt’s home.

Nancy is convinced she’s quite homely and doesn’t know what to do about it, so Dr. Susan comes to her rescue and shows her the simple little things that she can do for herself to improve her looks. But they take plenty of character — grit and determination.

“It’s looking out for the everlasting little things that make a woman really lovely. It takes more character to be an attractive woman than to make a million dollars,” says Susan — and that statement is one of life’s great truths.

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Dress fashions for women from 1937

Vintage ’30s beauty tips: Hollywood stars have good posture

It took rigid determination and persistence for Joan Crawford to become the great beauty she is today. If you had seen Ann Sheridan when she first came to Hollywood, you wouldn’t recognize her as the glamorous girl she is now.

1930s actress Ann Sheridan

Of course, the stars have the constant prodding of the studio, so that they are not allowed to forget for even a moment the fact that their careers may depend upon the loss or the gain of a few pounds.

Dr. Susan starts her good work on Nancy by showing her how to stand erect instead of slumping over. Eleanor Phelps, as Dr. Susan, has developed an attractive carriage, largely through her study of singing.

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This has taught Eleanor to stand so that she breathes from the abdomen rather than from the chest. She’s found that the correct posture has helped make her stronger and healthier, too.

Eleanor suggests — to teach yourself — that you try to make your back touch the wall. You can’t completely, all the way down, but the effort will keep you from having a sway-back. Then pull your hips under you. That makes them look smaller.

Hold your chin up to get a good neckline. If you have a slender chin, you should be especially particular about holding your head up. The only reason for having a double chin is laziness and forgetting to hold your head erect to give you a clean chin line. Hold your chest up, too, trying to raise it. Trying to push it out will emphasize a sway-back.

Actress Maria Montez - 1930s

How to improve your own posture

She admitted that standing so straight is a big chore at first, you can’t expect to accomplish perfection right at the start. It takes time. But you can devote fifteen minutes at night and in the morning to improving your posture.

Get set by standing against the wall and then walk around the room, consciously thinking of the way you are holding yourself. When you’re out walking, try to pull yourself up at every street corner.

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After a while, the whole thing will become habitual and you’ll stand and walk gracefully without even thinking about it. This exercise not only improves your posture, but it will help to flatten your tummy.

Priscilla Lane has another exercise which you can do without attracting attention at any time or any place while you’re sitting down.

The trick is to hold the body erect and pull in the abdominal muscles as definitely as possible, trying to make the front muscles touch the spine. Repeat ten times in a row whenever you get the chance. This strengthens your muscles and insures yourself of a nice flat tummy.

1930s actress Olivia de Havilland

To wear clothes well, a lovely carriage is essential. Jane Wyman, who used to be a model, carries herself so well that she can wear almost anything with an air.

Olivia de Havilland is the dress designer’s delight because her posture and walk are so graceful that she can wear clothes of any period and carry them well, so that they seem to be a part of her personality rather than overshadowing Olivia’s own individuality.

Mary Mason is the rising young star who plays the part of Nancy Chandler in the radio sketches.

Three movie companies are bidding for her talents, so you will probably see her soon in pictures — standing and walking according to Dr. Susan’s precepts, and fully displaying her own natural charms.

Vintage 1930s acress Marion Davies

Beauty and makeup: Helpful hints

If you find yourself so busy and occupied with one thing or another all day long, that you can hardly find time to powder your nose, much less renew your lipstick, take Sonja Henie’s advice on how to keep your lipstick on.

Sonja says she always powders her lips before she applies the lipstick because the rouge then stays on twice as long. To set it even more, try using the most indelible lipstick you can find in a definitely light shade.

MORE: See top vintage nail polish colors & retro brands

Sonja Henie on lipstick - 1939

Then, over that, use your regular stick in the shade you prefer. Sonja says that if you follow this procedure “no matter what you go through during the day, some color will be left.”

Marjorie Weaver recommends a homemade facial for those of you with a slightly oily skin, to use about once a week as a supplement to your regular routine.

“Beat up an egg,” is Marjorie’s recipe, “until it is foamy, and add powdered magnesium until it makes a paste that can be applied to the face with the fingertips.

“Relax, read or sleep during the half hour it is drying. When thoroughly dry, wash it off in cold water, and your skin will have a lovely tingling glow, while your pores will be purged of all impurities.”

Lux toilet soap for 30s beauty (1937)

Marie Wilson is one of those lucky persons who always looks fresh and cool on the hottest summer day. At stated intervals during the day, she bathes her forehead, wrists and throat with ice-cold water into which has been dropped a dash of her favorite cologne.

She wears nothing but tubbable [home washable] dresses because they look so cool and fresh, and she drinks lots of cool water and eats no heavy food.

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Gale Page eye makeup tips from 1939

Geraldine Fitzgerald believes in pencils for achieving the perfect makeup, and has them in various colors. She outlines her lips with a red lipstick pencil, and uses a white one to moisten and run under her nail tips.

When she wears blue in the evening, Geraldine uses a blue eye pencil to draw a short line at the outer edges of her eyes, which makes them look longer and accents the color of her eyes.

She has a green pencil for green clothes, and a purple one for violet ensembles. The line must be smudged a trifle so that it looks like a faint shadow.

Gale Page, appearing in “A Family Affair,” brushes her eyelashes with warmed castor oil to stimulate their growth and to keep them soft so they won’t break.

At night, when she uses mascara, she dusts her lashes with powder after oiling them, which enables the mascara to go on more smoothly. It makes your lashes look heavier, too.

ALSO SEE: The perfect body, ’30s-style: Measurements women wanted in the thirties

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