Book Review: The Handbook of Beauty

I have a few books on vintage hair & make up…but until recently I had no actual vintage beauty/fashion books.

After finding an excerpt of “The Handbook of Beauty” (By Constance Hart) on “Miss Abagail’s Time warp Blog” I knew I had to have it. Not only was it a handbook to being a girl (something I so desperately needed) but it was published in 1955 – and I love all things 50’s. So I jumped on Amazon and found a copy fairly cheap.

This is an except from the book on a one night a week beauty routine…

Set aside one evening a week ~ whichever is most convenient, but try to make it the same night every week to fix the habit firmly ~ to do the following beauty chores that don’t have to be done more often. Start after dinner. Give yourself plenty of time (at least two hours). Try to avoid interruptions by your family or by friends on the phone.

I’m going to suggest the order in which you can do all these beauty chores. But if you prefer, rearrange the order to suit your own particular tastes. Just make sure you do all the steps listed for a complete feeling of achievement on the road to beauty.


1. Get into the most comfortable old robe you have.

2. IF you have make-up on, remove all traces.

3. Thoroughly cleanse your face (see chapter on skin).

4. Give yourself the tired-eye treatment (see chapter on eyes).

5. Sit in front of a mirror and, for about 15 minutes, experiment with new make-up purchases and new ways of applying your old make-up (see chapter on make-up).

6. Remove all traces of this make-up but keep on the final application of cream you’ve used to remove it.

7. Do five minutes of facial massage (see chapter on skin).

8. Apply facial mask.

9. While mask is still on, remove old nail polish.

10. Do all steps of your manicure up to but not including the new polish application (see chapter on hands).

11. Remove facial mask.

12. Give yourself the tired-foot treatment (see chapter on feet).

13. Start your pedicure. Do all the steps up to but not including the new polish application, if any (see chapter on feet).

14. Exercise for 15 minutes (see chapter on exercises).

15. Brush hair at least 100 strokes.

16. Shampoo hair (see chapter on hair).

17. Set hair (see chapter on hair).

18. Take a warm “luxury” bath (see chapter on baths).

19. Apply anti-perspirant to underarms (if you use it).

20. Apply toilet water, cologne, or body lotion all over yourself.

21. Finish off with talcum or dusting powder (not, however, if you’ve used body lotion).

22. Apply polish to toenails.

23. While they’re drying, apply polish to fingernails.

24. When fingernails are dry, weigh and measure yourself. Record results on Pages 315 and 316 of this book.

25. Apply emollient cream to area around eyes.

26. IF skin is dry, leave a thin film of the cream all over your face for overnight. If skin is half-and-half, leave a thin film of the cream on dry patches for overnight.

27. Wash and thoroughly dry hands; push back cuticles.

28. Apply hand lotion or cream.

29. Get into bed and lights out.


In addition to the above routine, set aside a shorter time on an evening about three nights later to do the following:


1. Repair manicure.

2. Give your hair a between-shampoo cleansing (see chapter on hair).

3. IF you’re over thirty, give yourself a 5-minute facial (see chapter on skin).

4. Check up on your make-up equipment. Wash sponges, puffs, and brushes in soapy warm water.

5. Apply anti-perspirant to your underarms if you perspire profusely as a rule.


I love this book for a few reasons. Mainly that it is filled with sensible advice (I have found very little of the whacky or scary old home “remidies”) on make up, hair, skin care and diet. Even the diet advice is sensible caloric based – if you need to loose weight eat less and gain weight eat more. As someone who loves lists I absolutely love that this book is filled with them. Routines for morning and night, how to have a cleansing bath (or a relaxing one), how to stand correctly and even 4 pages on how to apply lipstick.

Highly recommended for all vintage lovers and anyone who, like me, needs help on being a girl.



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