Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

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Barbra Streisand in Rudi Gernreich—photographed by Lawrence Schiller for Life, January 9th, 1970.

Most ladies love a good beauty tip, so it is hard not to get excited by the idea of fifty-three famous women contributing their pet beauty secrets. When these hints are found in a 1971 copy of Cosmopolitan they become all the more interesting—an indication of how much and how little has changed in the realm of beauty in the last 43 years. While many of the women listed are unknown now (like the wives of forgotten politicians and weather girls), a whole host of icons also provided their routines and recommendations—twenty of them are included below.

All quotes from Cosmopolitan, October 1971.


“Mirror, mirror, on the wall… who’s the fairest of them all?...” Fifty-three of the nicest witches share with you their most personal magic potions…

Barbra Streisand (above): I’m oily when I wake up, so first I wash my face with cold water, then put on a cake foundation with a semidry silk sponge that you buy in the five-and-dime. The natural shine of oily skin comes through the pancake and your makeup looks more real. I used to wear those long lines around my eyes, but then one day I saw how hard and unnatural they were. Too much makeup can make you look less attractive.


China Machado photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper's Bazaar, March 1962.

China Machado: I only wear eye makeup and false eyelashes for parties. What’s important to me is what the man in my life likes to see on me.


Anne Bancroft by Richard Avedon, 1968.

Anne Bancroft: I’m into health diets and believe in wheat germ, yeast, garlic pills. I’m prone to colds so I take two to four garlic pills a day along with vitamin C. As for hair, I wash it myself: first a massage, then two soapings, a crème rinse, and finally a texturizer. Breck Basic is my favorite for holding it in place.


Candice Bergen by David Bailey for Vogue, August 1967.

Candice Bergen: I have to pick a very tolerant hairdresser because I don’t want them to do anything but wash my hair, use my own special conditioner, and set it in a standard set. After that I want my hair brushed for about ten minutes and that’s all.


Contessa Christina Paolozzi (Bellin) by Richard Avedon, 1961.

Christina Paolozzi Bellin: The greatest motivation for looking young and beautiful is a giant insecurity complex. Makeup makes me feel secure. I have fat legs so people don’t mind flattering me… all the time they’re thinking with relief, “My, she has terrible legs.” Jolie Gabor once told me, “You must look your best at all times, even when walking your dog—what if you’re run over by a bus and the photograph shows you looking a mess?”


Merle Oberon photographed by George Hurrell, 1934.

Merle Oberon: I do yoga every morning, and I brush my hair for three quarter of an hour. My favorite mask is an ancient Aztec recipe: squeeze the juice of a lemon on an oyster and let stand overnight. In the morning there is a white scum which is fantastic for invigorating the skin.


Joan Rivers, 1983.

Joan Rivers: Well, I used a mudpack once. It worked wonders! My face looked great for three days… then the mud cracked.


Sally Field, 1977.

Sally Field: I love to shampoo my hair with rainwater and rinse it with beer.


Lauren Bacall photographed by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper's Bazaar, March 1943.

Lauren Bacall: A packet of blue bath oil and a half hour soak in the tub at night, that’s for me. I go to a gym twice a week and stick to isometric exercises.


Ginger Rogers, 1935.

Ginger Rogers: You’ve got to be sensible, but while there’s life there’s got to be ice cream.


Carol Burnett.

Carol Burnett: I decided I didn’t want to go through life shaped like an avocado, so I took a private exercise class. I hated doing the exercises alone, so I got a group together at CBS and we work out daily for thirty or forty minutes in some unused rehearsal hall.


Wilhemina on the cover of Vogue, March 1965, by Irving Penn.

Wilhelmina: I keep changing makeup. My favorite foundation now is Max Factor’s Pan-stik. I love glamorous eyes: they will get out of anything! I use false lashes, a little eyeliner, and lots of mascara. I wouldn’t think of going to bed without taking five minutes to steam my face.


Marlene Dietrich by Cecil Beaton.

Marlene Dietrich: Don’t keep the face in the same position with the features fixed and the mouth closed. Laugh, look around, turn your head, open your mouth, and nobody will ever notice your wrinkles.


Brigitte Bardot, 1972.

Brigitte Bardot: My hair is curly so I don’t wash it too often… use a dry shampoo twice a week instead. I brush constantly.


Penelope Tree by David Bailey for Vogue UK, October 1968.

Penelope Tree: Yesterday I chopped up silver sparkles in the blender until they were really tiny, almost like dust—and mixed them up in my powder. The effect was quite nice because any light is instantly flattering to the face.


Myrna Loy by George Hurrell, c. 1932.

Myrna Loy: I believe in glucose tablets and shots of vitamin B12.


Veruschka photographed by Franco Rubartelli, 1968.

Veruschka: When I’m not modeling I wear hardly any cosmetics. I hate makeup that looks as though you worked on it.


Gloria Vanderbilt by Richard Avedon, 1956.

Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper: Dr. Laszlo’s cosmetics are unbeatable; I’ve used them for twenty years. As for my figure, I gained extra weight with every pregnancy… afterwards, had to lose as much as forty pounds. Now try to stay at 115 pounds. Every morning I get on the scale and if I’ve gained as much as three pounds I go back on the Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet, drink eight glasses of water a day and eat all the protein I can.


Hedy Lamarr photographed by George Hurrell, 1938.

Hedy Lamarr: Sometimes I layer on a mask of honey right from the jar, leave it on for half an hour, and rinse off with lukewarm water. I have another mask recipe that I like: in a blender mix equal parts of avocado, sour cream, crushed strawberries, and cut-up cucumber. Apply this thick mixture heavily—but not near the eyes—once a week. I rest on a slant-board for an hour with my feet higher than my head while the mask works. I also like to lather my hair in Hellman’s mayonnaise—let it soak in and then shampoo off.


Gloria Steinem by Cynthia MacAdams.

Gloria Steinem: I pick up whatever smells good at the five-and-ten-cent store. I like a light lipstick and try new shades from time to time. I go to the beauty parlor every six weeks to have my hair conditioned and for fresh streaking.

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