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9+ Vintage Beauty Ads That Are Questionable By Today's Standards

Brittany Rae 23 Jan 2020

Ummm... I have some questions. A lot of them.

Times change, and so do our standards. While some of these ads may have been fine back in the day, they're frankly insane now. It's almost fun to look at how far we've come as a society though, right?

Let's see how beauty ads used to be done, and thank every being in the universe that we've evolved as a species.

1. If you had a zit, your life was OVER.

Collector's Weekly

My favorite part of this ad is the "Very Real Science" it offered up. Yes, a single germ from a doorknob would cause unforgivable acne that will leave you single and alone.

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2. "This is no shape for a girl."

Collector's Weekly

I mean, first of all...this is literally one of the ideal body types these days, which I'm nuts about.

Any shape is a shape for a girl, and I'm glad we've made (slow) progress towards body acceptance.

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3. I just burst out laughing.

Click Americana

"Meet Maybelline's kissing cousins."

Is there something that Maybelline needs to tell us about its family tree? Is everything okay at home, Maybelline? Y'all need me to book you an appointment with a therapist?

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4. Watch your stockings, ladies.

Collector's Weekly

The fact that Lux made up an acronym for the thing their product is meant to "treat" is HILARIOUS.

"Married? No reason to neglect S.A. (stocking appeal)."

I regret that I've neglected S.A. since...well, birth, actually.

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5. This was a bad idea even then.

Haircut 'n Stylish

I'm sure the idea was that someone who was voluntarily bald would want it, but it just looks like they're mocking cancer patients. How this got past an advertising team is beyond me.

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6. Dry skin? Palmolive has your back.

Collector's Weekly

I can't believe a dude won't go out with me if he can tell I have dry skin!

If he's repulsed by your flawless skin being slightly dry, throw the whole man away.

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7. HUH?

The Luxury Spot

"What Minis did for legs Gala Lip Pen does for mouths."

Okay, first of all: There's at least one comma missing in that ad.

Second of all: What?! Does anyone actually want men staring at them and dropping food everywhere while they put lipstick on?

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8. Sure, that's a reason to stray!

Collector's Weekly

Guys, if you have yellow teeth, it's 100% okay for your husband to cheat on you. This ad says so, okay?

You just know he was looking at Beth because they were hooking up on the DL. His wife deserved better.

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9. This one is pretty brazen.

Fabulous Freaky Fun

"Most men ask, 'Is she pretty?' Not 'Is she clever?'"

I just want to know where she got her gold nightgown and red robe because that combination is a total win.

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10. Joan, you stink.

Collector's Weekly

Apparently, Joan was so lax with her personal hygiene that even her undergarments would talk about her behind her back.

People bathed less when these ads were relevant, so ads were very obsessed with shaming women for any body odor they may have.

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11. Why were lipstick ads so...weird?

Makeup Museum

"New Yardley Lip Licks taste like Grandma's favorite recipes. So kiss him in his favorite flavor."

They had me in the first half, they lost me in the second. I don't 100% know if I want to be thinking about my grandma while kissing someone.

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12. Not proper feminine hygiene!

Collector's Weekly

Ladies, do you have odor down there? That's nothing a little Lysol can't solve.

I know. My whole body just cringed, too. That's the kind of shaming ads engaged in back then, and many were very obsessed with feminine hygiene.

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13. Your marriage might have bigger problems than your lipstick color.

Matt Sko

Can you imagine having your relationship hit rocky waters because your husband thinks your lipstick is too "red and smeary"?

Thank god Tangee is a good replacement for a relationship therapist!

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14. This product is okay in my book.

Collector's Weekly

Hey, the ad sucks. It's body-shaming, annoying, and relies on women being attractive to men to have self-esteem.

But a product that promotes gaining weight? I'm not overly mad at it.

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15. Is that the goal of shampoo?

Gloria Brame

Finally, a product that will achieve what I've always wanted: to have hair so fragrant that it will stop my significant other in their tracks in order to sniff me even days after I've showered.

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16. Makeup can make up for anything.

Pinterest

Why crave human affection when you can just wear nail polish? Tinkerbell just wants to be there for you, you know?

I truly don't know if the advertising executives at Tinkerbell were okay.

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17. Back at it again with the Lysol.

Collector's Weekly

See what I meant about advertisers being obsessed with women's feminine hygiene/odor?

Lysol was a big player in saving marriages, apparently. I wonder how many pH balances they also destroyed in the name of preventing tragedies?

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18. Just squeeze that double chin away.

Collector's Weekly

My favorite part of this ad is the part that says "reduces enlarged glands." Um? Your lymph nodes? You might not wanna mess with those.

Anyway, I don't know who needs to hear this, but your chin is fine the way it is.

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19. Did you guys know about this?

Collector's Weekly

Okay, no one told me that I was in a beauty contest 24/7.

One of the most interesting parts of this ad is the little narrative it spins under the largest picture. Apparently, this girl's husband made a good impression with his boss because his wife didn't have acne! Crazy!

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20. Body hair? That's repulsive.

Collector's Weekly

This ad is absolutely genius. At no point are you told what the product is or how it works — just that it'll get rid of facial hair.

I hope it was just a fancy razor.

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21. I know, I know. But it's still funny.

Free Republic

"Meet the man who can tell you how to lick pimples."

Firstly, that phrasing is absolutely hilarious. Secondly, I am not entirely sure that doctor was even a real person. And that is my conspiracy theory of the day.

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22. Small boobs? Have I got the cream for you!

Collector's Weekly

Yup, you read that right: cream. Nancy Lee's Miracle Cream Treatment guaranteed bigger chest in 30 days.

This honestly sounds like an ad on the internet.

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23. I just get sweaty, but maybe that's me.

Digi Bunch

Take your vitamins and get energy to clean and cook for days! I had no idea Kellogg's was in the vitamin business back in the day, or that I could mainline them to get the motivation to clean my house. Neat!

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24. You will never guess what this is an ad for.

Collector's Weekly

In no way was I expecting an ad that addressed exhaustion, weight, and skin to be about...All-Bran.

Can you imagine if this was printed today? "The reason no one wants to date you is because you're constipated, eat our cereal."

That's surrealist enough to work.

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25. Is this even legal?

Dose

"Because innocence is even sexier than you think."

Hello? Hello? How was this allowed? What parent took their kid to this audition? What company president allowed that phrase to be printed? That's nasty.

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26. Ladies, if your man is this picky, take yourself on picnics.

Collector's Weekly

"Sh-h-h...she has 'GAP-OSIS.'"

This seems like a scene from a weird craft Instagram account that precedes some inaccessible sewing hack for when you're suffering from "GAP-OSIS" out in the wild.

Right? Am I right?

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27. Sure, that's a normal thing to say about a kid.

The Luxury Spot

"She can have a tummy... and still look yummy!"

This ad was directed at mothers concerned that their daughters may not look "slim" like the rest of their friends. That clothing line was clearly the answer, right?

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28. Dry hands? Your husband may LEAVE YOU.

Collector's Weekly

These ads were so alarmist. If you use the wrong dishwashing soap, your hands will get dry, your husband will notice, and your marriage will be over.

Women who got through those days with their sanities intact are heroes.

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29. This ad made me laugh out loud.

Collector's Weekly

Ladies, is your mouth aging? Would you like a way to make them look like someone blurred them in Photoshop?

Me, either. I hope this is an ad for chapstick, but who knows. It could be a washing detergent ad at this rate.

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