Vintage Beauty Products that Remind Us of Mama
How she got her trademark not-so-natural look back in the day.
Mama’s never had much use for au naturel, and that was true even when she was a brand-new mom, just a few months past her baby shower (which the church hostesses were kind enough to throw, bless their hearts).
Over the years (okay, decades if you want to get snippy about it), technology has streamlined Mama's beauty routine, making it easier to curl, straighten, and pouf her hair, find lipstick with staying power, and put a little color in her cheeks. The blow-dryer alone changed her life for the better. And we’re happy for her.
Even so, we can’t help feeling nostalgic for some of the vintage makeup brands and beauty tools she kept at the ready back when we were little and would clomp around in her high heels and play with her powder compact while we watched her style her hair and "do her face." Here’s what we remember—how about you?
Breck used to urge all of us to search our souls and ask: “Are you a Breck girl?” I liked to play with Mama’s Breck hairspray because it had portraits of Breck girls on the can, and I would have fun picking out which of their hairdos I hoped to shellac onto my head when I got to be “a big girl.”
There would be no pageant hair without it, and that’s a fact.
Say it with us: “Dippity Do it—comb through it!” Dippity Do was industrial-strength hair gel (pink or green, your choice) that came in a jar. Mama’n’em would put it on each strand of hair as they rolled those curlers all over their heads.
Back when Mama was in her makeup-buying prime, “Avon ladies” actually came into your living room with their sample cases.
Way before Revlon had the vast product line it now carries, it was Mama’n’em’s go-to brand for lipstick and nail polish.
Ivory or Cashmere Bouquet?
Sometimes, Mama broke away from her Ivory habit and indulged in fragrant soap.
Lady Sunbeam Electric Shaver
It was just darlin' with its pink detailing and satin-lined box.
Can’t you still smell the distinctive fragrance when Mama opened that blue jar? Not only was Noxzema supposed to take your skin to a whole new level of clean, but it would also make you look younger and treat sunburns. Think I might swing by CVS and pick up a jar on the way home.
Everybody sing along: “Ban won’t wear off as the day wears on.”
Toni and Lilt Home Perms
Perms have come a looooong way. Back in the day, Mama’n’em had to know what they were doing when they broke open one of these babies, or they’d end up with a level of frizz that is unimaginable today. (My Aunt Joyce could deliver red-carpet curls with a Toni.)
My Sin, Shalimar, White Shoulders & Evening in Paris
Mama’n’em had an exotic side. Hey, a Southern girl can carpool and fellowship without sacrificing her inner siren.
Curlers & Hair Clips
Some retro hair curlers were made of wire mesh; others were plastic with little clips that snapped on to hold them in place; some were made of sponge, secured with plastic fasteners. None made sleep very probable, and yet Southern women slept in them for years—at least before church. Oh, and don’t forget those little silver clips that held Mama’s side curls, which framed her face and anchored her bouffant.
The Bonnet Hairdryer
Park it and get comfortable, ladies. You’re gonna be under there for a while
Southerners know plenty about beauty. Here's some more stuff we know:
Don't EVEN ask us to explain why the SEC matters a whole lot more than the NFL. It just does. And that should be obvious, bless your heart.