Feb. 1, 1910: Vaguely hazardous beauty tips

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • February 1, 2013 - 7:17 PM
In a speech that drew 500 Minneapolis women and one Minneapolis Tribune reporter, Mme. Le Vie, beauty expert, shared tips on how to look one’s best. Most of the advice has stood the test of time: Drink plenty of water, wash your face and take care of your hair. Other tips are best ignored. Please, ladies, if you do rub kerosene in your locks, stay away from open flames. 

Epson Salts Advanced
as Best of Face Washes

500 Minneapolis Women Hear
Mme. Le Vie, Beauty
Powder Rag an Abomination,
She Says, and Rouge Useless
Unless it Deceives.
“I am not a professional lecturer,” began Mme. Le Vie, beauty expert, addressing 500 Minneapolis women yesterday, “but I am a woman who makes her living by talking to other women. I do not talk for the benefit of the rich – for the woman who can buy good looks for herself every day. I speak for the woman who like myself cannot indulge daily in the luxuries of a Turkish bath, a masseuse and a private hair dresser.
“Beauty means that of form, of face and of clothes well worn. I get my information from the queries sent to the question box of a Chicago paper and out of the 800 letters sent in daily, 500 ask: 'What is a good skin food, what will keep my hair from getting grey?'
“Wash your face, is the answer to the first. Not one woman in a hundred knows how to wash her face. Men’s faces are cleaner than women’s because they have to shave. We don’t have that to do, thank heaven!
“About hair dye. I make my own. My hair has been gray for 14 years. I dye it. It’s none of your business how old I am. I’ll tell you all this much though, I don’t propose to have any wrinkles till I’m 75.
“Drink plenty of water, drink it till the cows come home. Your skin will rival the poet’s milk and roses if you drink six glasses of water daily.
“Little aids to complexions. Mrs. Potter Palmer pays $50 for this, but you can get it for five cents. It’s just plain Epsom salts dissolved in water. Use it as a wash. It won’t even hurt you if you swallow it, and if the baby seizes it by accident, it won’t even hurt him.
“Oh, yes, I use rouge. I like it. I feel healthy because I look it. If everybody tells you you look blooming, you haven’t the nerve to act sick. But put it on right. Don’t tell anybody about it or else tell everybody. My beloved husband was in blissful ignorance for ten years. Don’t go around with a rouge pot in your hand. Say nothing and look wise.
“I use grease paint only when I go bathing or at night. It sticks. A powder rag is an abomination to the Lord. I wish I could get busy on some of you women. I’ll bet I could make you fall in love with yourselves.
“Don’t use rouge unless you put it on right. What’s the use of putting it on at all unless you fool somebody.
“Hair! A woman’s crowning trouble is her hair. Ladies, get busy with your top knots. Retire from society before a shampoo. Use kerosene and rub it in. Once you use dye, you must keep it up. I haven’t much hair, but I’m hanging on to my 19 strands. It’s so handy to pin things to.”
After the lecture Mme. De Le Vie answered the questions of grey-haired women and frivolous school girls who crowded forward, eager to learn the secrets of her art.
The price of beauty: With a little help, a woman squeeeeeezed into a corset in about 1910. In a nod to future styles, the woman at right appears to be wearing a cross between Zippy the Pinhead's costume and Zubaz. (Photo courtesy

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