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Hairstyles for April 1937

Illustration of “Six New Hairdressings for Gadabout,” Woman’s Home Companion, April 1937. Ben-Hur Baz, illustrator.

The Womans’ Home Companion had hairstyles from leading salons illustrated in April of 1937.

Text for “Six Hairdressings” article, WHC, April 1937. The letters next to each head are the call numbers for radio stations, where readers could listen to fashion reports..

These hairdos look very fussy to me — would a lover would ever dare run fingers through them? –and they were probably full of hidden hairpins.

On the theory that product advertisements use models that women can identify with, I browsed through advertisements from 1936 and 1937 in the same magazine, looking for photographs, rather than drawings. Some hairstyles in ads did have this tightly curled and controlled look.

Tight, sculptured curls in an ad for Ipana toothpaste. WHC, Oct. 1936.

Here, the hair seems to reflect the models’ state of digestion….

Woman to woman advice in a Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia ad, WHC, Dec. 1936.

One of the models in this ad for Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia [a laxative] is definitely curled “up tight” (constipated hair?)

And so is the mother in this article about hairstyles for mother and daughter:

Supposedly, this is how the daughter wished her mother would update her hair style. WHC, May, 1937.

I get the impression that tightly controlled hair styles were aimed at the sophisticated or “mature” reader.  But not necessarily; there’s not a sculptured curl to be seen on these women who are pictured in an ad for Brownatone Hair Dye.

Women in an ad for hair dye show a range of styles, from a late 1920’s Marcel with tiny bun (lower left), to loose, almost collar- length waves. February 1937.

This chic sophisticate has far-from-casual hair…

Ad for Dorothy Gray cosmetics, March 1937. WHC.

… compared to this model in the same issue:

Soft, loosely waved hair on a model in an ad for Colgate toothpaste, March 1937.WHC.

Another off-the-face style from later in 1937:

Natural looking off-the-face waves in an ad for Doggett and Ramsdell cleansing cream. WHC, Dec. 1937. The asymmetrical hairstyle leaves room for an off-center hat.

Below, on the right, a group of models as “career girls.”

Top left, thick, loose curls from an ad for Dodge cars; right, shorter hair for “career girls;” and bottom left, a mother in an ad for Lux laundry soap. 1936-1937, WHC.

The Ponds face cream ads showed a series of lovely women; both the debutante and the duchess have loose, fluffy hairstyles:

Miss Phyllis Konta, New York debutante, in an ad for Ponds cold cream, WHC, March 1937.

The Duchess of Leinster’s hair had to accommodate a tiara. June, 1937, WHC. Ad for Ponds cold cream.

Colgate ran a series of toothpaste ads featuring women who looked lovely until they smiled.

Toothpaste ad, May 1937.

Toothpaste ad, September 1937.

This Bayer Aspirin ad shows two views of the same headache-sufferer. Did taking an aspirin relax her hair?

Before and after in an ad for Bayer Aspirin. WHC, Dec. 1936.

As in the ad for Milk of Magnesia, relief and comfort are symbolized by a more natural hairstyle.

Of course, in 1937, a woman’s hairstyle was dictated by the need to wear a hat while shopping or dining in restaurants, so a curl-free area was usual in daytime hairdos.

Women in a color ad for Dodge, Dec. 1937

Women in an ad for Ponds cold cream, Oct. 1937. The hostess is the only one without a hat, and the crown of her head is smooth — and hat-ready..

Two women wearing hats; Kotex ad, Nov. 1937.

With the exception of motion picture actresses, the hair is usually worn rather close to the head.

Movie starlets in an ad for Richard Hudnut makeup, April 1937.

Actress Merle Oberon in an ad for Richard Hudnut makeup, December 1937. Her hair softly frames her face. Her plucked and penciled eyebrows look more 1920’s than 1930’s. (Compare them with the other models from 1937.)

The brushed-back hair of this model could almost pass for a 1950’s style — but it’s from February, 1937, before the “Six Hairdressings” article was written.

A brushed, almost casual hairstyle from an ad for Dorothy Gray cosmetics, February, 1937. Cartier supplied the jewels.

The model is far from girlish (and the jewels are from Cartier), but she seems much more “timeless” than Merle Oberon, and miles away from this:

Suggested “Hairdressings” from April, 1937. Woman’s Home Companion.

Maybe the ad agencies were more in touch with popular fashion than the editors of Woman’s Home Companion?

Added consideration: One disadvantage of close-to-the-head hairstyles is that, without a hat or fuller hair to balance the width of shoulders and hips, a normal woman can’t come close to the long, lean 1930’s fashion silhouette; this fashion photo from Woman’s Home Companion shows how small the head can look in relation to the figure. [Hair — and shoulders — got much bigger by the forties!]

A photo of “styles in stores;” WHC, March 1936.

In the mid-thirties, as photography replaced fashion illustrations in the “women’s magazines,” women had a more realistic image of what was possible.

Instead of adjusting our idea of beauty, the magazines and designers eventually adjusted the height and weight of the models they used.

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