1952 “Beauty Schedule” Shows How Much Things Have Changed

From the November 1952 issue of Today’s Woman comes this gem of the era, written by beauty editor, Mariechen Wilder Smith. Back in the 1950s the beauty industry was just getting going. Before then many women set their hair and wore powder and lipstick and that was about it. The great prosperity of the post-war era meant that women and even teenaged girls could afford the little luxuries like perfume, cold cream, and other beauty supplies which would make up her arsenal of appearance enhancements.

Fast forward to today and there is no end to the beauty products one can buy. Compared to a beauty-conscious woman of today, a 1952 regime might seem positively quaint. The copy on this article is so of-the-era it hurts, “Can you look your most attractive at a moment’s notice? The secret is to have a weekly beauty plan like the one we outline here. Thirty minutes or less a day is all the time it takes to keep you at your prettiest- ready for holiday partying anytime your husband says the word.” Well, this phrasing doesn’t hold up that well, but what about the beauty advice? Let’s find out by taking a closer look at this weekly schedule entitled “Beauty Schedule for Busy Young Wives”.


Smith suggests starting Monday with a facial to jump into the week looking refreshed. She advises to not forget the delicate skin on the neck, but to avoid the eye area completely. So far this advice sounds good, and many women today find a weekly mask to be a solid part of their routine and a chance for some “me” time.


The article reads, “Because you’re on your feet so much, treat yourself to a pedicure and foot exercises.” It was recommended that while the toenail polish was drying, a young woman should do exercises with her feet like picking up marbles. This one is a bit baffling, but a pedicure sounds nice at least.


The middle of the week was for hair removal, apparently. Far from shaving everyday like some women do these days, once a week is not that often. Smith suggests spending one morning to really get it all done, regardless of the season, using a “razor, depilatory, wax or abrasive to defuzz your legs and underarms…” This is the piece of advice that’s probably the most controversial since many young folks today find shaving body hair to be a completely optional beauty routine and one that is deeply personal.

Smith goes on to suggest tackling the old eyebrows while you’re at it. Unlike the days of yore, young women these days tend to embrace the bushy eyebrow look- after decades of being told to pluck (and overpluck) their brows. Unlike yesteryear, the thick brow is in.


This day was for washing one’s hair, although Smith says, “if it doesn’t need washing every week, give your scalp a thorough relaxing massage.” While she fails to mention anything about conditioner, serums, or dry shampoo, she does say to wash your comb and brush each week as well. The trend for washing hair less often is on the rise these days, not because of precious curls which must be maintained the whole week, but because of damage from dyes and heat styling.


To keep your hands looking nice Friday was manicure day. In addition to filing and shaping the nail, young ladies were to also push back the cuticle and applying 4 coats of polish- one base coat, two coats of color, and a final top coat.

Saturday and Sunday

Smith combines the weekend days as that was for family time. It’s not only a break for the young wife’s husband from work, it’s also her rest from her beauty schedule. Smith smartly points out that if the basic beauty regime is finished during the week, “with only a few minutes warning you can step out looking and feeling your best”.

Smith finished by saying that if you’re ready to go all the time, your husband will be more likely to make suggestions for last-minute plans, which seems like quite a stretch.

What do you think about this 1950s beauty advice? Do you still follow some form of a beauty schedule today?

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