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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Actress Beauty Tip #33: Greer Garson almond oil skin

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

greer garsonBeautiful red-headed actress Greer Garson had flawless skin.

The Academy Award winning actress told beauty columnist Lydia Lane that she used almond oil to ease lines around her eyes.

“Greer Garson looks wonderful and can afford anything but she uses pure almond oil, which she buys at the drug store,” Lane wrote in response to a 1963 letter. “She says it keeps the fine lines from around here eye.”

Lane interviewed Garson several times for her syndicated beauty column that ran from 1938 to 1980.

Garson used almond oil when she washed off her make-up. It was a ritual she and her mother discovered in England, she said in a 1952 Lane column.

Almond oil was also a favorite moisturizer of First Lady Jackie Kennedy, according to Vickie Calvert’s book “Living Natural and Stress-Free in the 21st Century.”

2014-03-08_14.14.01My skin is too oily to use heavy sweet almond oil on my face during the day, like how Kennedy used the oil. I tried the oil more like Greer Garson.

I wasn’t able to find almond oil in stores, so I turned to eBay and bought a small bottle for $3.

This past week, I put almond oil on my face and around my eyes before I went to bed. I don’t necessarily have fine line around my eyes, but it did make my skin smoother in the morning. This was especially helpful with dry patches that are more prevalent with winter weather.

Some articles say almond oil helps with dark circles under the eyes. Even with plenty of sleep and the oil, it hasn’t helped me.

To review: I can not vouch for sweet almond oil decreasing fine lines. However, it made my skin smooth and helped with winter dry skin. It did not help with dark circles around the eyes though.

Check out another Greer Garson beauty tip here:

Check out more Comet Over Hollywood Actress Beauty Tips here:

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Actress Beauty Tip #32: Susan Hayward diet

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

Actress Susan Hayward stayed thin with a three day diet of eggs and tomatoes.

Actress Susan Hayward stayed thin with a three day diet of eggs and tomatoes.

This week I went on a diet for Comet Over Hollywood.

Red-headed Academy Award winning actress Susan Hayward claimed she stayed under 118 pounds by eating 2 eggs (prepared any way) and one tomato three times a day for consecutive three days.

“If you continue more than three days, you may start clucking like a hen,” Hayward said in an interview.

Hayward claimed you could lose five pounds in three days with this diet, which seems highly doubtful to me.

“Her (Susan Hayward) measurements are the same as they were when she was 20,” beauty columnist Lydia Lane wrote about the then 47-year-old actress in an Aug. 2, 1964, column, “Susan Hayward Gives Diet Tips.”

The Comet isn’t anywhere near 118 pounds, but I’m always a fan of weight loss and eating healthy. I decided to give it a try. I like both eggs and tomatoes so I figured it couldn’t be that hard. Here is how the three days went for me:

Tuesday, Oct. 1:
Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled with a cut up tomato. It was delicious and filling. However, I realized eating one whole tomato for a meal is ALOT of tomato. Or alot more than I’m used to eating.
Lunch: Was still full from breakfast so didn’t eat the hard boiled eggs and cut up tomato I brought for lunch.
Dinner: Felt a bit like I was getting a cold so talked myself into getting a McDouble from McDonalds, instead of eating eggs and tomatoes for dinner.

Wednesday, Oct. 2 
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs and a tomato again. Still tasted good.
Lunch: Two hard boiled eggs and a tomato. Enjoyable meal made even better when I dabbed my egg in mustard.
Dinner: Sunny-side up eggs on a toasted sandwich with a cut up tomato on the sandwich. Ate the rest of the tomato by itself. Filling but growing weary of eggs.

Thursday, Oct. 3
Breakfast: Skipped breakfast because running late for work.
Lunch: Another delicious meal of hard boiled eggs with a tiny bit of mustard and a tomato.
Dinner: I went to the fair….and had a chicken pita wrap….Nothing fried or terribly unhealthy, but still not part of the diet.

Friday, Oct. 4
I was going to add one more day to the diet since I cheated on two meals but ended up not eating all day because was too busy at work. Had spaghetti for dinner

Hayward shows off her figure as she dances in the John Wayne film

Hayward shows off her figure as she dances in the John Wayne film “The Conqueror” (1954).

To review: Since it was only for a few days, I can’t say if I lost weight. I can say I continuously wanted to eat a cheeseburger. However, eating healthier made me feel a little better about life. I stayed full after eating and my usually oily hair and skin felt fresher than usual at the end of the day.

For me, eating eggs and tomatoes for both breakfast and lunch isn’t difficult, but eating it a third time for dinner is when it got tiresome. By that point, I wanted to cook a pork chop or even just eat some cereal and toast.

I can’t say I will continue with Susan Hayward’s diet, but will probably continue to incorporate eggs into my diet at least once a day. I did consider taking a break for two days and doing the diet for three more consecutive days, but I’m pretty tired of eggs and tomatoes right now.

So in review, though I didn’t drop rapid weight, I did feel better about life during this diet. 

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Actress Beauty Tip #31: Elizabeth Taylor perfume

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

Elizabeth Taylor Holding Perfume Bottle

Elizabeth Taylor in 1991, introducing her perfume at Macy’s

Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift.

These celebrities may not have a perfume named for them if it wasn’t for English born actress Elizabeth Taylor.

The two time Academy Award winning actress is known for her violet colored eyes, glamorous beauty, love of diamonds and multiple marriages.

With a mix of her affair with jewelry and Old Hollywood glamour, Elizabeth Taylors’s White Diamonds perfume has been the top selling celebrity perfume since 1991. Even since her 2010 death, the perfume makes $200 million worth of sales each year.

Taylor wasn’t the first celebrity to create her own perfume. In 1957 Givenchy created a scent for Audrey Hepburn called L’Interdit, that was only released after Hepburn had worn it a few years. French actress Catherine Deneuve and Italian actress Sophia Loren both had perfume scents at one time that are no longer sold, according to a Jezebel article.

white diamonds 2

White Diamonds advertisement.

But what sets Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume apart is the fact that is still sold after 20 years.

Ever since I was a child, the gold liquid in Taylor’s rhinestone incrusted bottles intrigued me.  But my mother warned me White Diamonds wasn’t the most pleasant smelling perfume. Since Mom isn’t a perfume wearing woman, I hoped she was wrong.

Recently, with Comet’s beauty tips in mind, I picked up a small bottle of White Diamonds and felt slightly glamorous that I owned an Elizabeth Taylor product.

But the day I wore White Diamonds, I felt anything but glamorous. I actually felt ill, because it smells terrible. I sprayed my wrist once and overpowered by the smell.

As I gagged, I tried to figure out how this perfume had such a strong staying power. I wonder if it’s simply that it is put out by one of the most important actresses and pop culture figures of the 20th century.

To Review: White Diamonds is a very heavy and strong scent. I personally didn’t like it and can’t imagine wearing it all day. I think Elizabeth Taylor’s excellent marketing and Old Hollywood sophistication is what has kept it on the shelves for over 20 years.

Have you ever tried wearing it? What is your opinion?

This post is part of the Summer Under the Stars blogathon

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Actress Beauty Tip #30: Marilyn Monroe breakfast

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

Since I’ve started these beauty tips, I’ve tried some crazy things. Some include washing my hair with champagne and bathing in milk.

When I was living at home, my parents didn’t mind as long as I cleaned up after myself.

However, I get the feeling that I would have been scolded for Beauty Tip #30.

Recently, I’ve been reading columns by NY Magazine diet columnist, Rebecca Harrington. Harrington read about what Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe ate and tests it for about two weeks to see the results. Most of the foods are revolting, have complicated recipes and Harringon’s accounts are hilarious.

To celebrate Marilyn Monroe’s birthday, I decided to try one of her diet tricks.

Every morning, Monroe had warm milk with a raw egg in this, according to Harrington.

An article about Monroe's diet routine in Pageant magazine, Sept. 1952

An article about Monroe’s diet routine in Pageant magazine, Sept. 1952

“To my surprise it was utterly delicious,” she said in her column. Reading this I thought, “Hm. Milk and eggs are actually two things I have at my house. I’m trying to lose weight. I should try this.”

My goal was to drink the milk and raw egg concoction for a week and see what weight loss results I had. I lasted two days.

I didn’t stop because I was hungry or that it tasted bad. The combination is actually pretty good -really only taste the milk- and I stayed full for hours after drinking it.

My issue was looking at the drippy, gooey consistency of the raw egg in my milk and that I was basically drinking salmonella-in-a-cup.

It also dawned on me that drinking a raw egg is just plain stupid. The health benefit of drinking a glass of milk and eating a hard boiled egg is probably about the same and it’s safer.

To review: The milk and raw egg combination kept me full and  tasted fine, but the fact that I was drinking a raw egg (salmonella in a cup) unnerved me. I can stay just as full and healthy by drinking a glass of milk and a cooked egg.

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Actress beauty tip #29: 1930s eyebrows

This is the twenty-ninth installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested…except for this one.

Jean Harlow with her signature, exaggerated eyebrows.

Jean Harlow with her signature, exaggerated eyebrows.

Eyebrows are the frame work of the face.

Overtime that framework has been defined differently.

The 1940s were more natural and of medium thickness.

In the 1960s were heavy, emphasized with an eyebrow pencil.

But the most dramatic eyebrow look was in the 1930s. Brows were thin with exaggerated height.  Several actresses shaved their eyebrows and drew on their eyebrows. Petroleum jelly or oils were used to give a shiny look on the brow, according to Return to Style.

Jean Harlow’s high arched, drawn on eyebrows became part of her signature style. Greta Garbo plucked her eyebrows thin to follow the arch of her eye socket. Marlene Dietrich shaved off all of the hair and penciled on her brow higher than her natural hairline, according to the Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.

Some actresses shaved their eyebrow for role and they never grew back:

Lucille Ball dressed as a blond slave in "Roman Scandals" (1933)

Lucille Ball dressed as a blond slave in “Roman Scandals” (1933)

-In her first film appearance “Roman Scandals” (1933), Lucille Ball was asked to shave off her eyebrows. She was playing a slave girl with a long blond wig. Her brows never grew back and she had to pencil them on the rest of her life, according to the Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.

Lana Turner in "The Adventures of Marco Polo" (1938)

Lana Turner in “The Adventures of Marco Polo” (1938)

-Lana Turner was asked to shave her eyebrows for “The Adventures of Marco Polo” (1938) and had slanted brows were drawn on to give an “Asian look.” Her eyebrows never grew back. She later had false, stick on eyebrows made that she wore for the rest of her life. Her daughter Cheryl Crane said she only saw her mother without her false eyebrows twice, according to the book LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies.

Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939)

Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” (1939)

-For her role as Queen Elizabeth I in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” (1939), Bette Davis shaved two inches off her hairline at the forehead and her eyebrows off. She said they never grew back properly and had to use an eyebrow pencil, according to IMDB.

To review: Though I have testedmany of all of my beauty tips but I have not shaved off my eyebrows and drawn them back on for this one. However, I think several of us have had that panicked moment of over plucking and fearing they won’t grow back properly. It’s amazing how many actresses had to deal with eyebrow issues for the remainder of their lives due to shaving them off for roles.

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