I love when we have access to old advertorials. This one, for Lux soap in 1956, is so overt about all the things that frustrate people about the beauty industry. The slogan, “To him, you’re just as lovely as a movie star,” is a nice idea, but you could also interpret it with a very passive-aggressive underlying message (“But to yourself, and everyone else, you are a bridge troll”). It then goes on to say that’s “all the more reason to look your most attractive, always,” as if your beauty will also, to him, be fleeting unless you slather yourself in premium foam. The phrase “cosmetic lather” is QUITE the marketing malarkey, a completely meaningless concept that only sounds like it’s science. It’s just soap, y’all. It’s soap wrapped in gold-printed foil that does absolutely NOTHING for the product except make it look expensive and probably cost a bit more than the Ivory sitting next to it on the shelf. It’s sort of a bracing reality check, though, seeing this and laughing about the false claims — or overblown ones — and then sitting back to consider what I buy now, and why, and what the buzzwords are that sound so appealing but in reality are tricks (I think “clean beauty” is one that brands hope people will not pay attention to, as the use of it is not regulated in any way; I think the concept of “chemicals” being in something is another, because not all chemicals are bad).
Amusingly, Wikipedia said that Lux’s claim about 9 out of 10 Hollywood stars using Lux Soap came from them sending it to a bunch of actresses and asking for an endorsement, and calculating a percentage based on the number who wrote back something nice. Which of course means nothing about their continued use of the soap, and could as easily indicate that they said, “Wait, if I say I liked it, they’ll probably send me more, and FREE soap is the best soap IN THE WORLD.” But all they need are the quotes, and BAM. Don Draper would be proud.