HISTORY OF BEAUTY

Beauty in World War Two

Lucy Santos, The Glamourologist

1 February 2015

After increasing in size massively during the 1920s and 1930s the beauty industry was heavily reduced in size during the period after the declaration of the Second World War in 1939.

In Britain during June 1940 the Limitation of Supplies (Misc) Order cut production on seventeen classes of consumer goods to 24% of the level produced during the last six months of 1939 restricting supplies to the home market.

Many essential items to the cosmetic industry, such as alcohol and petroleum, had already been in shortage as had materials used for packaging cosmetics – such as paper and metal – leading to utility packaging being introduced.

Court Royal Curlers Wartime Economy Pack

Court Royal Curlers, 1940s

Photograph by The Glamourologist

This packing often used the most basic and cheapest materials available to the manufacturers and was purposefully designed to be simple, unfussy, and utilising the least amount of packaging possible.

Atkinsons Face Powder War Emergency Pack

Atkinsons Face Powder War Emergency Pack

Photograph by The Glamourologist

Even then some manufacturers had to reduce parts of the product for instance Bourjois, manufacturers of Evening in Paris, added a little note in their rouge stating “We regret owing to wartime restrictions PUFFS are unobtainable”.

Evening in Paris War Time Pack

Evening in Paris War Time Pack

Photograph by The Glamourologist

Boots Number 7 Face Powder War Time Pack

Boots Number 7 Face Powder War Time Pack

Photograph by The Glamourologist

Even factories owned by cosmetic companies were given over to the war effort and shifted their production away from make up to war time essentials. Stratton, for instance, changed production from lipstick casings to producing shell cases.

Factories were often in built up urban areas and were at risk of bomb raids. Stratton lost 4 out of its 5 factories in the Midlands and Bourjois’ factory in Purley was gutted on 15 August 1940.

Bourjois perfume factory Purley

Bourjois perfume factory Purley

Copyright: Unknown

Not only were cosmetics often in short supply but they were pricey – especially due to a series of purchase taxes introduced after 1940 which saw the price of cosmetics rising by around 50% by 1943.

Auxilary Red Cylax 1939

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