When I watch old movies, I pay extra sharp attention whenever the actresses do or say anything beauty related. My favorite tidbits are the simple ones, and whether it’s in a movie or in an interview, I tuck the tips away for future reference. Sophia Loren uses olive oil as moisturizer and makeup remover–brilliant! Audrey Hepburn separated her eyelashes with a safety pin! That one seems dangerous for the clumsy, actually. The best part about getting tips from old movies and 50-year-old gossip is that nobody ever mentions Creme de la Mer (only $155 per ounce). All of the following tips are so simple and cheap that you can get what you need at the drugstore, or for free, and there is little to no risk of losing an eye. It’s just a little glamour for the frugal (and shaky-handed) among us!
I must improve my bust!
In 1967’s Valley of the Dolls, based on the book of the same name by Jacqueline Susann (so much trashy fun!), Sharon Tate plays a starlet who isn’t particularly talented, but is very particularly beautiful. Her bust is the focus of a lot of attention, and to maintain it, she does the little exercise seen in this picture–crossing her arms and flexing her pectoral muscles, I suppose. You’ve been a thirteen-year-old girl? Then you’ve done it. Most of us outgrew this ritual once puberty hit. Now that maternity and/or age has hit, and hard, perhaps a return to basics is in order. And it’s free!
She manages to frown even with Frownies.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a classic that absolutely everybody should see. Though it’s over sixty years old, the movie doesn’t feel dated at all. It’s about an aging actress trying to claw her way back into the limelight, meanwhile using and being used by an unscrupulous screen writer. But what about the beauty products used by the (fictional) fading screen star? Have they aged well? In the picture above, Gloria Swanson is wearing Frownies on her face. They’re still available today, cheap as chips, and people swear they prevent forehead wrinkles as effectively as Botox. Depending on the level of Botoxification, maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. In the name of scientific glamour, I’ve tried them. They’re essentially just homely brown paper stamps that keep your face from moving, meant to be worn overnight or for a few hours at a time. I think they would prevent new wrinkles, and perhaps smooth out old ones if worn consistently, but in the meantime you have to spend hours a day with scrap paper stuck to your face. Your call.
Undone hair, possibly braless, doesn’t matter. If you’re Greta Garbo, you are glamorous.
The picture above was taken in 1951 (I think–so mysterious!). Greta Garbo had dropped out of public life more than a decade earlier and was famously avoiding fame. She still partied with the in-crowd, however, and at one point German actress Lilli Palmer went snooping in Greta’s bathroom to see what magic potions she used to create her allure. All Lilli found was “a toothbrush, a comb with a couple of teeth missing, half a bar of Lux soap.” Lux soap was endorsed by all of the big actresses at the time as being the secret to their flawless complexions, but did they actually use it? Apparently Greta did!
It’s hard to find Lux now, but I personally appreciate the scent of pink Dove. There are fragrance-free and exfoliating versions, too, if you want to be a little fancier. Even if your face is too good for plain old bar soap, winter is the perfect time to switch from those romanceless pumps of antibacterial soap to a nice bar of something or other. Bar soaps don’t dry out skin as much as liquids do, and antibacterial soap is overkill anyway, so having a pretty pink bar on a soap dish is an appealing option when dry winter air is sucking the moisture out of your hands.
The eyelashes are a little over the top. I love them!
It’s widely reported that Joan Crawford chewed gum to keep her jawline taut and splashed her face with ice water 25 times every morning to keep her skin youthful. I don’t know if I could bear to splash ice on my face without having flashbacks to whitewashing, an unpleasant snow-based torture favored by big sisters across the midwest, but I do like gum. I keep reading amazing things about xylitol, which is a plant-derived sweetener that doesn’t affect blood sugar and is very good for your teeth. So even if chewing gum doesn’t keep me from getting a saggy jawline, it can help keep the cavities at bay.
Not vintage, just lovely.
I recently read an interview with Liv Tyler where she talks about how much she loves Epsom salt baths. Epsom salt? Isn’t that what Grandma soaks her feet in? Hey, grandmas are smart, we know that by now. Liv says she mixes equal parts Epsom salt with either a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or a box of baking soda, all dumped in a piping hot bath. The mixture is said to pull out toxins and leave your skin glowing and your muscles relaxed. Sounds good to me! Now I’m off to chew gum and rub some oil in my eyes. Wait, is that right?
Written by Team Glamorous Housewife Movie Expert: Mary D. Freiman.
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