“The New Tattoo gives lips exciting South Sea redness that’s transparent, pasteless, highly indelible . . . yet makes them moist, lustrous, smooth, soft . . . endlessly yielding. . . . How his heart will pound at the touch of lips so smooth, so caressingly soft!”
When I tried to find out more about the Tattoo makeup brand, I discovered that these Tattoo ads which appeared in black and white in Woman’s Home Companion appeared in full color in other magazines, such as Vogue. It was called “the New Tattoo” in the ad dated 1930, but here is an ad with only four colors, so it may be even earlier.
To see this ad in color, click here.
This ad for Tattoo brand lipstick stresses that the color is “highly indelible” — although not, fortunately, as indelible as a tattoo. It’s a lip “stain,” available in five colors: coral, exotic, natural, pastel, and Hawaiian. (Don’t you wonder what “exotic” and “Hawaiian” meant? Presumably one of them was darker than coral red.) There’s a lot to like in this ad: shoes that would be impossible to walk in on a beach; the cutout below the bow on the reclining woman’s swimsuit (I bought a suit like that in 1978); the man’s tank-top swimsuit (men had begun to bare their chests by 1937; I’ve even seen a man’s transitional swimsuit with a top that zipped off!)
The Tattoo lipstick case had a topless, grass-skirted dancer on it:
I didn’t find a history of Tattoo makeup online, but the earliest dated color advertisement I found was from 1930. (Click here) It included a coupon for a trial sample in your choice of color. The latest dated color image online was from 1949 (Click here.) Both were posted on flikr by totallymystified.
“The New Tattoo gives lips a strangely intoxicating redness; a sweetly tempting moistness and luster that only South Sea colors have…. There’s a magical ingredient blended into the New Tattoo that give lips a thrilling new kind of softness . . . an endlessly yielding softess!”
Pacific Tourism Grew in the 1930s
Tourism to Hawaii, via luxurious cruise ships, increased in the 1930s. The “white ships” of the Matson Line sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii and the South Seas. Quite a few movies with a tropical setting were made in the thirties, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Hurricane (1937) and Her Jungle Love (1938) — both starring queen-of-the-sarong Dorothy Lamour, Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938), and Honolulu (1939). Bing Crosby and his movie Waikiki Wedding (1937) popularized the song “Sweet Leilani,” written in 1934.
I can’t help noticing (Grrrr….) that the “South Seas Enchantress” in these ads is always subordinated to the one with fair skin, even though a “healthy” tan was very fashionable in the 1930s.
Perhaps a tan made darker lipstick more generally acceptable and less artificial looking.
Tattoo Waterproof Mascara
“Needs no water to apply.” By the 1940s, Maybelline also sold mascara in a tube . . .
. . .but, well into the 1950s, mascara was more familiar in that red plastic tray — as solid-form mascara which you moistened with the included brush. You were supposed to use water, but many women used spit. (Ugh!)
By 1929 Maybelline sold both this familiar “matchbox” of mascara, and a waterproof liquid mascara in a bottle; both came in brown or black.
Tattoo’s waterproof mascara came in a tube in the 1930s:
Tattoo mascara in a tube came in three colors: black, brown, and blue (!)
Read More About the Development of Lipsticks:
My search for “Tattoo” ads led me to a really excellent Australian site: Cosmetics and skin.com
For their well written and beautifully illustrated article on lipsticks, click here.
Readers of Moby Dick may be interested to learn that spermaceti was a major ingredient in 1930s lipsticks….
Actual lip tattooing in 1933
The modernmechanix blog found this article from 1933, headlined “Lip Tattooing Is the Latest Fad” in Hollywood, and commented, “I hope she doesn’t change her mind.” A reminder to anyone thinking about getting “permanent makeup:” your face will change as you age, your eyebrows won’t stay in the same place, and fashions in makeup will change, too. Imagine if Lucille Ball had had her lipstick permanently tattooed all over her upper lip in 1950; she’d have been stuck with it for the next 39 years!