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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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 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 #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 Tips #2: Champagne Hair Rinse

This is the second installment of our monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about AND tested.

Greer Garson in the 1940s

Actress Greer Garson, star of “Mrs Miniver” is known for her vibrant red hair; Robert Mitchum even referred to her as “Big Red.” According to Divas: the Site, after Miss Garson shampooed, she would rinse her hair with a cup of California champagne, brush her hair100 times and tie it in a net for the rest of the evening.

After further research, I found that rinsing hair with champagne is a way to make your hair soft, shiny and brighten natural highlights for flaxen haired individuals. I read about Miss Garson’s hair treatment last summer and have been intrigued to try it. This blog has finally given me a reason to do so.

**Disclaimer: My hair is of age to be rinsed with alcohol. It started growing November 1988. **

Champagne Hair Rinsing:

1.) Go out and buy champagne. I didn’t want to be too cheap, but not too expensive either so I bought a $15 bottle of Korbel at BI-LO.

Korbel California Champagne

2.) Most directions say to measure out a half cup of champagne and half cup of  hot water. I did a straight cup of champagne since it sounded like Miss Garson did not dilute her alcohol.

3.) Shampoo and condition your hair.

4.) Now for the fun part: After shampooing and rinsing, pour the champagne into your hair. I made sure to pour it on top of my hair and underneath. During this part, I realized why several reviews suggested mixing the champagne with hot water. The champagne was COLD after being in the refrigerator. It was a rather odd sensation as it bubbled in my ears and nose and dripped from my hair.


6.) Brush and towel dry your hair to get rid of any excess champagne. No, I did not brush my hair 100 times like Miss Garson.

7.) Nor did I tie my hair in a scarf for the night.  Blow dry your hair.

To review: My hair looked shinier and felt softer, but I didn’t see a major difference. I was surprised that my hair didn’t feel stiff or sticky from the process. However, the smell of my hair gave me a craving for cheese and crackers.

Since I tested this at night, the champagne will be washed out in my morning shower.  I think I will retest the rinse one morning so I can see how it feels to have champagne in your hair all day. Hopefully people wouldn’t smell it and think I’m an alcoholic, haha.

I’m not sure if I will ever see those “champagne highlights” websites discussed, but it is a fun routine.  Other than silly, I did feel sort of glamorous during the process.

Check back August 1 for the next beauty tip and an update on champagne hair rinsing!

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Actress Beauty Tips #1: Boraxo Powdered Soap

One of my favorite things to read about with classic actresses is how they maintained their good looks. How did Veronica Lakes hair always look so lush?  What perfume did Jean Harlow seduce men with? How did Rita Hayworth maintain her slender figure?

I am starting a feature that I will do the first of every month of classic actress beauty tips that I have read about AND tested.

Lana Turner in Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

Our first test comes from the beautiful Lana Turner. It’s hard to deny the beauty and sex appeal of Lana Turner. Her flawless, meticulous appearance didn’t happen by accident.  Lana worked hard to keep her appearance glamorous. She wasn’t just a star on-screen, but also off, according to her daughter Cheryl Crane’s book “LANA: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies.”

A section of the book discusses different beauty regiments and fashion favorites. Her beauty regiments were surprisingly simple and inexpensive. One beauty routine practice by Miss Turner was exfoliation with Boraxo powdered soap once a week.

Boraxo Powdered Soap

1.) You put the Boraxo powdered soap in a bowl or in your hand.

2.) Make a paste by adding water to the soap.  You can control how rough the soap is on your skin by how much water you add. For maximum exfoliation, add less water.

3.) Use on your face or anywhere else on your body for smooth skin.

4.) Only do this once or twice a week. If you rub your face too hard with the soap you might end up slightly red-cheeked from rubbing too hard.  Using lotion afterward is advisable.

To review, I really enjoy using Boraxo soap. It leaves me feeling smooth and refreshed, but careful not to rub too hard!

*It might be best to buy the soap online. My grandmother was able to find Boraxo on sale at the Mass General Store in Boone, N.C. but I can’t find it Greenville, S.C.

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