1920’s Hollywood Beauty Advice – Avoid Summer Tans !

In the 1920’s – the advice to girls was – stay out of the sun! –

August 1928 – Carolyn Van Wyck’s Hollywood Beauty Shop brings us the latest 1920s makeup and beauty tricks of the stars. here she advises Doris to
‘avoid’ a tan and maintain her beautiful complexion.



The first two weeks in August I’m going on my vacation to the seashore and I need your beauty advice. Every year I get a beautiful coat of tan – and always wish I hadn’t. I go without hats and lie on beaches and, much as I enjoy this, I regret it afterwards. But as I’m a working girl who gets little chance to be out of doors ordinarily, vacation freedom is so tempting. Is there any compromise I can make between going about hatted and long-sleeved, or returning to my job looking like a red Indian? DORIS.


SUMMER complexions? What a problem they are. I know exactly how you feel, Doris, for I am in the same position. two lazy summer weeks from the whole year in which one may loaf around in her favorite chic bathing suit. I, too, always want to absorb all the sun and wind and a light existent. But Doris, you and I and all the working girls of the 1920’s must make up our minds that just for the fun of it, we can’t sacrifice our most precious beauty assets, fair skin and shining hair. vacation time is the season when one may relax, stop doing, and flirt with leisure and some self pampering. But the need for a perfect feminine complexion goes on all year.


Now there is nothing finer for acquiring new energy, beauty and youth than the sun’s rays. In them lies the magic cure for almost everything from weariness to nervous breakdowns. To lie, unclothed, in some sheltered spot is the perfect tonic for beautiful skin. But the difference between a little sun bath and a “beautiful coat of tan” – is the difference between wisdom and nonsense.

1920s Summer Skin – Avoid a tan!


For I disagree with you Doris. I do not believe that a coat of tan is “beautiful”. To acquire it one usually burns first and browns later. Superficially it looks well, boyfriends remark on it. In a bathing suit – brown skin is charming. But dressed in one’s prettiest frocks it is something awful. And remember – tanning in youth brings wrinkles with age.
A coat of tan is actually a thickened coarser-pored skin that has taken the place of the delicate finer skin, through which a healthy feminine glow is normally revealed. The sun peels away this forever!
Your natural color becomes obscured. Make-up no longer looks well on you. You get a dulled fabric in place of a delicate one.

1920s Beach Beauty Tips.


Naturally a girl loves to loaf about in her bathing suit, let her hair go free, and take a break from her daily beauty treatments. Well, do this much, my dear, to save yourself all the bleaching treatments and care you will need later otherwise. Pack shade hats and parasols, a good cream, a heavier than usual powder, a good skin tonic and a bathing suit whose neck exactly matches the neck of your summer frocks to avoid those high water marks of tan above your dresses neckline. Always keep your face and neck shaded. Too much sun over the years will wrinkle your neck by the time you are 35. Before going out in the sun, rub a heavy coating of cold cream well into your skin.


Without removing all the cream, powder heavily, being careful not to give yourself too white a make-up. Patting the powder on will make it cling better than rubbing. when you walk along the beach front, use a parasol. It is extremely fetching and will draw many admiring eyes towards you. It also gives you a perfect chance to air your hair without bleaching it in the sun. Keep your favorite tonic on ice and when you know you are going to nap, even outdoors on the sands, put pads of cotton, wet with tonic, on your closed eyelids. You will waken looking and feeling marvelous.

1920s Summer Skin Prep – Evenings.


When you are dressing for an evening date, give yourself this excellent skin treatment. Cold cream your neck and face, then dip a pad of cotton into hot water and run it over your creamed face, wiping away the cream. cream once more and remove once more with a pad dipped into the iced astringent. this will give your complexion a delightful, freshened feeling for the evening. if your skin is oily, you do not need as heavy a cream as your winter cream, except of course around your eyes.

1920s Summer Skin  – How to avoid Freckles.


If you freckle, for beauty sake – don’t indulge your craving for the sun. Cold cream your face, neck and arms always. For light freckles use equal parts of glycerine and lemon juice twice weekly, or if your skin is too thin for glycerine, rub it with a fresh slice of lemon, letting the juice dry and remain on for some time. for heavier freckles, the following is a good cream to make: Lactic acid, 4 ounces; Glycerine, 2 ounces; and Rosewater, 1 ounce.
And Doris, if you do still get sunburn, i recommend equal parts linseed oil and lime water to be applied to your skin.

Text copyright Glamourdaze 2013.

Originally published in Photoplay – 1928
Many thanks to The Media History Project – for sourcing,scanning and preserving these wonderful articles.


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1 thought on “1920’s Hollywood Beauty Advice – Avoid Summer Tans !”

  1. “Is there any compromise I can make between going about hatted and long-sleeved, or returning to my job looking like a red Indian?”

    I can’t even imagine the backlash if this was published today! I was always aware that fair skin was the 20’s beauty ideal I but I am still shocked by how much it is pushed. Thank you for the post, it really helps put a perspective on things.

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