A little history about Vanishing Cream on the vintage makeup vanity

During the Victorian Era, makeup was often frowned on. It was considered acceptable only if you were on the stage. And, also, it was worn by prostitutes. Later, starting around the Edwardian Era, makeup became more acceptable for women to wear. Around this time, skincare companies advertised vanishing creams as part of a woman’s makeup routine.

What is Vanishing Cream?

The term vanishing cream was probably coined by Pond’s Extract Company during the Victorian Era. Vanishing cream mainly acted as a moisturizer in a woman’s beauty routine. Vanishing just meant that it “vanished” or “disappeared” after your skin absorbed it.

Advertising copy for the creams boasted that it protects against chapping in cold weather and wind and keeps skin looking younger longer. With the growing popularity of open-top motor vehicles and outdoor sports, copy also claimed to protect against dirt and the sun.

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Prior to foundation, women used vanishing cream.

These creams acted as a base layer for a woman’s makeup powder to stick to. Liquid foundation, as we know it today, was not marketed to the masses. Makeup powders were, but powders did not adhere to the skin well.

In my book, Retro Makeup: Techniques for Applying the Vintage Look, I explained,

“The term foundation comes from the original use of liquid base cosmetics in the early part of the 20th century. Although they were not always translucent, sometimes with a pink or nude tint, they were not often meant to do the job of coloring the skin.

These lotions and creams were applied to the skin first. Their purpose was to create the base or foundation for a powder to stick to, much like a face primer today. Powder provided the color and coverage to achieve the desired skin tone.

Some heavier foundations existed in the movie industry, but in the 1920s the general public did not use them.”

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Where can I get vanishing cream today?

If you want to continue this vintage tradition at home, there are some lovely creams that some vintage skincare companies are making today. The list below are all made by Etsy woman owned shops that are bringing the art of 20th century skincare back to life.

Pond’s Early Advertisements

The Finishing Touch,

“The hidden secret to many an older sister’s youthful complexion is Vanishing Cream. The reason why, at thirty, her complexion still compares favorably with that of the debutante is because she has conscientiously protected the girlhood radiance and clearness of her skin and has maintained its delicacy and softness long past the time when everybody prophesied it would be lost.

Begin now to always apply Vanishing Cream before you expose your skin to cold It gives your skin an exquisite finish and at the same time prevents chapping and roughening. It keeps your skin soft and moist, pliable and elastic. In winter, when going from hot rooms to outdoors, from theatres to cars, Vanishing Cream protects your skin from all sudden and extreme changes.

Use it tonight. Watch how readily your skin absorbs it. notice its delightful perfume of jack roses and particularly observe what one application does for your skin.”

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may earn me a commission. I link these items because of their quality and not because of the commission I may receive. I am an independent blogger and I write based on my own opinions.

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Welcome to the Bobby Pin Blog! I am Lauren Rennells and as a hairstylist, makeup artist, writer, and generally artistic over-achiever, the Bobby Pin Blog is my outlet for thoughts and research about vintage hair and makeup trends and how to recreate them today. Thank you for stopping by!

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As an Etsy and Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an independent blogger, I link these items because of my own opinions and not because of the commission I may receive.

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