Actress Beauty Tip No. 41: Joan Blondell cottage cheese facial

This is the 41st installment of the classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

joan Blondell cottage cheese

Art from “Facing it with Joan Blondell” published in the Dec. 1932, issue of The New Movie Magazine. Screen shot by Comet Over Hollywood

When it comes to skin care, I’m always intrigued to try something new — especially when it was something that a classic film star did.

Actress Joan Blondell outlines her skin care regiment and provides a guide of how to have a clear complexion in the article “Facing it with Joan Blondell” published in the Dec. 1932, issue of The New Movie Magazine.

In addition to washing her face with “good-old soap and water,” using a cleansing cream and moisturizing, twice a week Blondell said she did a beauty facial pack with a surprising substance.

“My favorite beauty pack will give you a laugh — and a gorgeous complexion. It is a bit of plain garden variety of cottage cheese — and milk,” Blondell is quoted in the article.

Here are Blondell’s instructions for her cottage cheese facial pack:

“Smear over the entire face and neck—and yes, the hands too, as much cottage cheese as you can make stay on in a paste. Read or rest quietly until it is completely dry. Heat some milk to the boiling point. Soak a soft cloth in the milk and apply it on the face and neck. Gradually wash the cheese off with the milk. When the milk has been absorbed by the skin, pat the face dry. Then apply a turtle oil cream or just plain almond oil and pat it briskly.”

Blondell advises to do the pack treatment before bed.

Prior to this, I only knew of facial masks and wasn’t familiar with the term “pack.” Masks and packs are similar, but masks are non-setting mask and packs are setting masks and take longer time to dry. Facial packs consist of a PH fact and can be homemade.

Testing the facial pack

Since early July, I have performed the same cottage cheese facial pack two-to-three times a week:

  • I purchased regular, full-fat cottage cheese. I wanted the full effect on my skin.
  • With the lumps, it was difficult to get the cheese to stay on my skin. I ended up using a hand blender on the entire container to create a smooth, non-lumpy mixture.
  • After I washed my face each night, I would use a mask applicator to spread cottage cheese on my face. I generally did this two to three-times a week (Sunday and Wednesday, OR Sunday, Wednesday and Friday).
  • I only used the cottage cheese on my face, rather than neck and hands, as detailed above.
  • I would sit and watch TV with the cottage cheese on my face until it dried. This would take 30 to 40 minutes.
  • I tried the milk rinse once or twice. Not only was this not cost effective, but I felt like it left my skin slightly sticky. So for the rest of the time, I rinse with water and it provided a satisfactory effect.
  • After rinsing the cottage cheese off with water, I used my usual evening face moisturizer.
  • I feel it’s important to note: I always rinse the cottage cheese off in the kitchen sink as not to clog drains.
  • I washed any towels and wash clothes used during the rinse shortly after, as they will begin to smell like cheese/milk.

Did it work?


Me trying the cottage cheese facial pack

This may sound surprising, but I have come to really love this beauty ritual. My skin always felt smooth and soft after rinsing the cottage cheese off. I do also feel that my skin looked brighter and had a glow to it.

I also loved when you first apply the cottage cheese, because it’s cold from the refrigerator on your skin. As someone who loves to use cold for beauty and recovery, I felt this was refreshing.

While I’ve still had minimal breakouts, I haven’t noticed as many blemishes during my testing time of July 11 to Aug. 29.

I may continue performing this ritual during the week, or at least until I run out of cottage cheese.

Blondell leaves the readers with a summary of steps that everyone needs to do for their skin, some include:

  • A healthy body, gained by common sense foods and a light diet of simple proportions.
  • Soap and water, a good cleansing cream, oily and light enough to sink well into pores, and plenty of soft tissues for its removal.
  • A thoroughly reliable tissue or turtle oil cream. This is one thing that is not sensible to economize on. A good tissue cream is essential.
  • A good, not too drying, astringent, which will keep the pores closed and the skin fine-textured and makes an excellent powder base.

Of note: While I’m assuming Blondell really did this, you can’t always believe what you read in fan magazines. But because it’s fun, why not?

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Actress Beauty Tip No. 40: Greta Garbo Chamomile Tea Hair Rinse

This is the 40th installment of the classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

I have tried several beauty tips over the years – some of the craziest seem to involve hair: Rinsing hair with champagne and beer, or bleaching it blonde.

My most recent hair experiment comes from Greta Garbo and may also be the tamest. I learned this tip from film writer and professor Thomas Doherty on Twitter.

Greta Garbo photographed by Clarence Sinclair Bull in 1932

Greta Garbo was one of Hollywood’s top stars from 1925 to 1941. The Swedish star, however, was known for avoiding reporters.

While in New York City in late 1931, Garbo was traveling under the name Gussie Berger and refused interviews with reporters. So enterprising reporter Dorothy Ducas of the International News Service disguised herself as a hairdresser’s assistant to get a story, according to the Editor’s Note of Ducas’s Jan. 4, 1932, article “Glamorous Garbo Gives Good Interview Out to Girl Reporter in Gotham.”

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Photoplay Jan. 1948: Happy New Woman

“With these resolutions, ring in the new … to enhance your beauty the whole year through.”

“Happy New Woman” by Anita Colby (Scanned by Comet Over Hollywood)

For the new year, let’s enhance your beauty routine a la 1948:

Linda Darnell’s slogan is “care in color.”

Beverly Tyler lives by “cleanliness.”

Lizabeth Scott likes the streamlined, uncluttered look

Paulette Goddard says to stay alert.

In a January 1948 Photoplay article, Anita Colby, Photoplay beauty editor and feminine director at Selznick Studios, shares how to be a new woman in the new year with some help from Hollywood actresses.

Colby says to get rid of things that may be a result of carelessness in your appearance: figure bulges; makeup colors that don’t go with your skin, eyes or hair; or sagging and uneven hemlines.

The article “Happy New Woman” includes 12 tips inspired by Linda Darnell, Beverly Tyler, Lizabeth Scott and Paulette Goddard:

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Beauty Scope: Arlene Dahl’s beauty tips for Sagittarius

In October, on a whim, I reviewed Arlene Dahl’s book “Your Beauty Scope: Scorpio,” because I am a Scorpio. It was such a fun read, and I loved highlighting Dahl’s work outside of films, that I decided to make this a regular series; highlighting the beauty tips for each zodiac sign.

Now, I know I am coming late with Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21). These books aren’t very easy to find (or always terribly affordable) so my “Your Beauty Scope: Sagittarius” came from England and arrived well into the Sagittarius season, despite ordering it three weeks in advance. So let’s get down to business:

Arlene Dahl in 1951

Arlene Dahl wrote that she had been interested in the zodiac and astrology since an early age after her father brought home a book on it for her (her father Rudolph S. Dahl, was a Sagittarius as well).

She began a syndicated beauty column, which would be mixed with astrology. She would also interview actresses based on their astrological sign about their health, beauty and clothes.

Dahl also wrote several beauty and love focused books, and in 1969, Dahl published individual books for each sign which included tips on health, beauty, love, clothing, decor and overall well being.

Highlights from “Your Beauty Scope: Sagittarius”:
First, you will need to calculate your Moon and Ascendant. While I won’t spell it out for each one, two chapters of the book spell out what your zodiac sign + Moon sign and your zodiac sign +Ascendant say about you. The book has a charge in the back detailing day, time and year of birth. However, since these were published in 1969, if you are born after that, I suggest Googling.

Arlene Dahl says the Sagittarians tend to be in a rush and may let their beauty routines slide. They are subject to nervous tension since born under the fire sign, and may not pay enough attention to detail.

However, Sagittarians are essentially healthy and improve with age.

“Lovely hair begins with good health”
• If you have dry hair, do a hot oil treatment twice a month.
• Don’t neglect the “100 strokes” brushing. Flip your hair over your head and brush vigorously from the neck, followed by a scalp massage.

“Makeup is an art that the Sagittarian should cultivate…slow down and acquire a few new tricks.”
• Learn to use two shades of foundation if your facial contours aren’t “ideal.”
• You can change the size and shape of your mouth with lipstick and a lip brush.
• Use fine, translucent powder for a finish.
• The Sagittarian woman should never forget to accent her eyes.
• Eye makeup for day wear should be natural looking. “Save exotic effects for gala evenings.”

“Since you were born under a fire sign, you Saggitarians are often subject to nervous tensions. Control it!”
• Relax on a slant board for 20 minutes in a darkened room.
• Sagittarian Agnes Moorehead relaxes in a warm bath with scented bath salts, which gives a luxurious feeling.
• Health issues for Sagittarians tend to be liver problems, heart disorders and high blood pressure stemming from a careless diet
• Exercise is important to help ease nervous tension
• A good diet is necessary for weight but also keeping overall health in check, and keeping control over your nervous system.
• Lessen intake of oil, butter, starch and sweets. Learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables. A good first choice is raw carrots, cauliflower, radishes, celery and scallions.

“Your fashion signature consists of the total effect that you give.”
• Your favorite colors to wear are strong colors: purple, royal blue, bright yellow and orange, red
• Accent outfits with bold accessories, antique jewelry and unusual hats
• Gems: Ruby, turquoise with heavy antique settings

As I said with the Scorpio book, Arlene Dahl’s “Your Beauty Scope” is a fun read, regardless of the sign. If you find a book that references your astrological sign, I wouldn’t say it will dictate your life, but it will perhaps make you self aware and consider health or beauty choices you are making.

I also love Dahl’s writing style. She doesn’t talk down to the reader or make any crazy demands, like saying everyone should be wearing furs and expensive perfumes.

Though I do have to ask: When she talks about relaxing on a slant board, what does she mean? It seems she suggests this in each book.

She writes for the everyday woman in a calm and encouraging way. She never scolds, even when saying “cut back on eating sweets.” It’s all advice to help you live to your fullest potential.

Up next, I will review “Your Beauty Scope: Capricorn (Dec. 21- Jan. 20), but this may come after the Christmas holiday.

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BeautyScope: Arlene Dahl’s beauty tips for Scorpios

Arlene Dahl in the 1950s

Known for her striking beauty and shock of bright red hair, actress Arlene Dahl often played elegant or feminine women in films.

Starting in films in the late-1940s, she rose to fame when she signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Dahl acted in everything from musicals, film noir and adventure films. Dahl was also publicized for her six marriages, including to Lex Barker and Fernando Lamas, and she is the mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas.

But behind the glamour and publicity was also a businesswoman. In addition to acting, Dahl went into the beauty businesses and founded Arlene Dahl Enterprises in 1954 and developed a lingerie and cosmetic line. Dahl also worked as a beauty consultant.

In addition to all this, she wrote. Dahl started a beauty advice column in 1950 and turned to publishing full-length beauty books in the 1960s, which include “Beyond Beauty,” “Arlene Dahl’s Key to Femininity” and the “Beauty Scope” series.

The “Beauty Scope” series combined Dahl’s love of astrology with beauty and gave advice about how women could achieve their full beauty potential through their zodiac sign.

Dahl was dedicated to making decisions based on astrology and consulted with Carroll Righter, according to her introduction to “Beauty Scope.”

“He (Righter) became a great friend … Frequently, I consulted him on major career decisions, especially when I was offered roles in two good motion pictures at the same time, or when I was undecided whether or not to combine writing with my acting commitments,” she wrote.

Before the books, “Beauty Scope” started in 1963 as a syndicated column. The books were published in 1969.

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Actress Beauty Tip #39: Carroll Baker Beer Hair Rinse

This is the 39th installment of the classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Carroll Baker in 1962

Actress Carroll Baker entered Hollywood in the 1950s as a new face, with roles ranging from Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter in “Giant” (1956), a virginal southern girl in “Baby Doll” (1956), or a young woman dealing with the mental effects of rape in “Something Wild” (1961).

While her roles varied, Baker was considered glamorous. In an Aug. 1, 1962, article with Lydia Lane, she said when she first started out, she was less concerned with glamour and was more interested in being a good actress.

But according to Lydia Lane’s beauty column, this changed by 1962.

“With success there are obligations and I felt that when I appeared in public, people expected me to look like a movie star,” she’s quoted in Lane’s column.

To achieve her glamorous look, one beauty secret Carroll Baker performed was rinsing her blond hair with beer.

“My hair is oily, and I like to wash it every other day…,” she is quoted in Lane’s column. “I like to set my hair in flat beer and use large rollers. I have tried other wave sets, but nothing gives body to my hair like beer.”

Baker would then sit under her personal hair dryer while her hair set. She would leave the beer bottle open until the beverage lost carbonation and was flat, according to Lane’s column.

After reading this, I decided to give this a try. After all, I‘ve rinsed my hair with champagne for classic films, why not try another alcoholic beverage?

Like Carroll Baker, I have oily hair. Mine is slick, flat and oily so I have to wash it every day. I also generally don’t use any styling products and only wash and dry my hair.

My Ingles grocery store sells beer separately by the bottle, so I was able to buy just two bottles (rather than a whole pack). I decided to use Sierra Nevada beer.

I rinsed my hair on two separate days and styled differently and here’s how it worked out.

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Actress Beauty Tips #38: Positive Moves with Angela Lansbury

This is the 38th installment of the classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested. 

Actress Angela Lansbury has had a long and varied career. Lansbury started in films in 1944 and on the stage in 1957, and she still works in both mediums today. She was active on television with her own show. And she even joined the exercise craze of the 1980s, releasing the video “Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves: My Personal Plan for Fitness and Well-Being.”

But this video isn’t filled with crunches, leg lifts, arm circles and donkey kicks. I even really hesitate to call this a “workout video” or even strength training. This is more a series of stretches, movements, and advice encouraging the viewer how to stay active in small ways.

Angela Lansbury filmed the video in 1988 at age 63, while she was still making “Murder, She Wrote.” She later followed up with a book version in 1990.

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Actress Beauty Tips #37: Exercising Debbie’s Way

This is the 37th installment of the classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Comet Over Hollywood is no stranger workout videos. I grew up on Jane Fonda, Callan Pinckney’s Callanetics, and have even tried out actress Jane Powell’s Fight Back with Fitness.


Debbie Reynolds in the 1950s

But none of them are quite like Debbie Reynolds’ 1983 “Do It Debbie’s Way.” Reynolds’ Hollywood career began when she was 16 in 1948 playing a bit role in the Bette Davis film “June Bride.” In the 1950s, Debbie became one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s top stars and she continued performing until her last film role in 2013. She passed away in 2016.

Debbie was unstoppable, energetic and unsinkable, and the fact that she jumped on the exercise video bandwagon isn’t all-together surprising. She was a dancer and was slim most of her life.

But her workout video isn’t quite the same as other videos you may be used to.

The always original and over-the-top Reynolds decorates her workout studio with a chandelier, a diaphanous pink backdrop curtain, and lights behind the curtain spelling “DEBBIE” in eight foot tall letters.

“My set, I hope you like it. Usually you would work out in a gym, but I was in MGM for years in musicals so I thought we would do it up sort of pink, not brown,” Reynolds said in the video.

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Actress Beauty Tip #36: Oatmeal face mask

This is the thirty-sixth installment of my classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Syndicated beauty columnist Lydia Lane interviewed actresses from 1938 to 1980. Along with sharing the beauty secrets of actresses like Greer Garson, Jan Sterling and Anne Baxter, Lane also took questions from her readers.

In an Aug. 14, 1960, column, Elizabeth Bennett of Nashville, Tenn. wrote:
“I went to school with Mary Healy, and her complexion is just as pretty now as it was then. I don’t know her well enough to ask what she does. But could you find out?”

Actress Mary Healy

Actress Mary Healy

Beauty columnist Lydia Lane writes back:
“Mary says, ‘I don’t wear make-up when I’m not working, and I’m always very careful about getting my pores thoroughly clean. And I still use the same facial that my lovely grandmother recommended. I make a paste of dry oatmeal and water. When it is the consistency to spread, I smooth it on my face and lie down for 10 minutes while it dries. Then I wash it off with warm water and splash with cold.”

Oatmeal naturally contains cleansing features, particularly good for sensitive skin, that reduces redness and inflammation. It’s used as an addition to a beauty regiment, not a substitute, according to “Natural Beauty at Home” by Janice Cox.

Actress, singer Mary Healy acted in the late 1930s through the early 1960s, but she wasn’t in many “A-list” films. The most notable is “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T” (1953), based off the Dr. Seus book. She was most notable for her comedy team with her acting husband Peter Lind Hayes. The two starred on  “Peter Loves Mary” (1960-61), the “Peter Lind Hayes Show,” variety shows and radio shows in the 1940s. Hayes and Healy were married from 1940 until his death in 1998. Healy passed away in Feb. 2015.

When I read about Miss Healy’s beauty tip, I thought, “Well that sounds easy enough to test and try for Comet’s readers.”

Boy was I wrong. There was no “spreading” when it came to this oatmeal mask. I was caking breakfast food on my face ended up being a difficult mess that left me looking like I came straight from Davey Jones locker, with barnacles growing on my face like a Universal sci-fi monster.

In search of the perfect oatmeal to water ratio, and it seems one doesn’t exist that makes it easily spreadable. I sought out other oatmeal mask recipes on various beauty websites and home beauty ritual books. Most oatmeal mask recipes include other ingredients such as honey, yogurt, olive oil or milk. However, I wanted to stick to water and dry oatmeal as Miss Healy did.

I tried various mixtures:

  • First I tried uncooked instant oatmeal. This was no good. I added too much water and it added up too soupy, regardless of how I tried to remedy it. I was even squeezing water out of the oatmeal to no avail.
  • Next I read using cooked oatmeal was the way to go. But again, the water to oatmeal ratio was never quite right. It was either too runny and it dripped right off my face or it was so sticky that it stuck to my hands more than my face.
  • The best mixture was 1/2 water and 1/4 oatmeal, but that was still much to thick and sticky to spread as easily as Miss Healy describes.
  • I also tried using the cooked oatmeal as a scrub rather than a mask. This worked quite well. I had been experiencing some peeling that day and it was fixed by this.

Finally it occurred to that I hadn’t actually tried followed Mary Healy’s instructions except when I tried using instant oatmeal. I filled a bowl with dry, uncooked oatmeal and slowly added water until the oatmeal was merely damp and paste-like. Once I finally did this correctly, this was the best mixture.

But regardless of the mixture, this is not an easy thing to spread on your face. You end up clumping lukewarm oatmeal on your face, with bits follow back into your hand,on your sink or on the floor with your cat looking quizzically at you and trying to eat it. Or that’s at least what my cat Tallulah did. Needless to say, it’s a big mess.

To review: While the scrub and masks would leave my face feeling soft, I did not see any other major change. I had several blemishes at the time of use, and this did not seem to help with redness or inflammation as others said. But regardless of any skin improvements, this is really too much of a frustrating mess to incorporate into a beauty regiment.

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Actress Beauty Tip #35: Youth Dew Perfume- An Actress Favorite

This is the thirty-fifth installment of my classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Youth Dew advertisement by Estee Lauder

Youth Dew advertisement by Estee Lauder

Youth Dew was an instant success from the time it was released in 1953.

Created by Estee Lauder as a bath oil that could double as a perfume and sold for $5, the scent was blend of rose, jasmine, vetiver and patchouli, according to Estee Lauder cosmetics.

The perfume was also popular with Hollywood actresses including Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and Dolores Del Rio.

Swanson was a collector and life-long lover of perfume. The Turner Classic Movies documentary “Movies and Moguls” said Gloria Swanson spent $500 per month on perfume in the 1920s.  A 1924 report said she spent $6,000 alone that year on perfume, according to “Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star” by Stephen Michael Shearer. One of Swanson’s favorite scenes included Caron’s Narcisse Noir.

Del Rio was also a perfume collector with fragrances such as Parfum des Champs Elysees by Guerlain, Jungla by Myrurgia, Secret de la Perle by Pleville, La Jacee by Coty, Sans Adieu by Worth and Les Lys by D’Orsay.

Joan Crawford throwing rice with new husband Alfred Steele. Crawford said Youth Dew helped her attract him.

Joan Crawford throwing rice with new husband Alfred Steele. Crawford said Youth Dew helped her attract him.

A few of Crawford’s favorite perfumes included Jungle Gardenia, Spanish Geranium by Lanvin and she also enjoyed the men’s cologne, Royall Lyme.

But one favorite all three women shared was Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew.

Actress Gloria Swanson in 1956. Collector of perfume, she said she frequently wore Youth Dew.

Actress Gloria Swanson in 1956. Collector of perfume, she said she frequently wore Youth Dew.

Crawford claimed she attracted her fourth husband, Pepsi CEO Alfred Steele, with the scent. Supposedly Steele whispered in her ear while they were dancing, “I can’t stop dancing with you. You smell so exquisite,” according to the book “America’s Obsessives” by Joshua Kendall.

Swanson frequently told reporters she wore the scent, and Del Rio said she brushed Youth Dew into her hair, saying it was the secret to drive men mad, according to the book “Estee Lauder: Business Woman and Cosmetic Pioneer” by Robert Grayson.

Youth Dew has a strong, heavy, powdery and rather musky scent. It’s a smell that most people now seem to categorize as old fashioned or even grandmotherly.

Dolores Del Rio in 1955. Del Rio said she brushed the perfume in her hair to "drive men mad."

Dolores Del Rio in 1955. Del Rio said she brushed the perfume in her hair to “drive men mad.”

When I read about classic actress perfumes, I always hope for the best and take a great leap of faith when purchasing them without smelling them first. That stands true for Youth Dew, as well as perfumes worn by Audrey Hepburn, Jean Harlow and created by Elizabeth Taylor. You do feel glamorous while wearing a perfume you know was your favorite actress’s signature scent (except for Taylor’s. It’s truly terrible). However, most of these perfumes that have a long history seem to have this same powdery, over powering smell.

I prefer lighter scents, which are more en vogue today. For example, some of my personal favorite scents include Estee Lauder’s Sensuous and Dolce Gabbana’s Light Blue. The heaviest scents I own are Chanel Mademoiselle and Escada Magnetism.

While I don’t think Youth Dew is putrid, it’s so strong that it did clog my sinuses. While visiting my parents, my mother was trying to get a good whiff of the perfume and sprayed the perfume once in the kitchen. The room instantly was filled with the smell and it stuck around for the rest of the evening.

“My sinuses are shutting down! I feel sick,” Mom said.

My bottle of Youth Dew (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

My bottle of Youth Dew (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Though I warned her not to spray it, she said she was helping with my blog research. Shortly after, my dad got home.

“It smells terrible. What have you been up to,” Dad said.

To Review: Youth Dew is clearly not a fan favorite with my parents. While I didn’t hate the smell, it definitely is fairly overpowering. I’m not sure this is something I could wear all through the work day without ending up with itchy eyes and a headache.

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