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Hair & Beauty Adverts from the 1950s

The advertising industry now had access to more avenues than ever before, as more and more people were buying a television for the home. Subsequently, TV advertising had a meteoric rise as, one by one, various commercial channels launched throughout the decade. 

Despite the rise of TV, print advertising didn’t suffer. There were still magazines galore, all aimed at different consumer groups, and each one was full of adverts.

As in previous decades, Hollywood stars were still used as a “familiar face” to promote products, though unknown faces were also utilised. Sometimes the unknown face used in TV commercials went on to become a household name.

Photography in print adverts was becoming more common than in previous decades, as technology advanced, though illustrated adverts could still be seen. Either way, beauty adverts often had paragraphs of text explaining the virtues of using that product. Some even had little “how to use” guides contained in the advert. Other adverts were more focused on pictures of the product and had much less text.

Advertisers in the 1950s often focused on a family feel, with a wholesome or moralistic view to their adverts.

1950s Print Adverts

1950s TV Commercials

Until about 1958, most television broadcasts were live, including advertisements. Even though most programming was in black and white, it didn’t stop makeup brands advertising their new colours. Colour programming was available from 1953, but it was limited, and it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that colour TV sets became more affordable.

In the late 1950s in the UK, the advertising magazine (or Admag) sprung up . This was a short advertising programme, which was broadcast in the guise of a soap opera, of sorts. The ordinary viewing household could now be entertained while parting with their new-found disposable income. Admags were incredibly popular, until they were banned by Parliament in 1963. Spoilsports!

Beauty adverts were big business. Here’s a Maybelline commercial from 1956:

A live beauty advert for Revlon’s Snow Peach lipstick and nail polish from 1956:

Find Out More

Duke University Libraries:
BFI Screenonline – TV in the 1950s:

2 thoughts on “Hair & Beauty Adverts from the 1950s”

    1. Hi Sheila – they had little flashes of false hair that came in a variety of bright colours, including pink and blue. These were attached to the hair, or could be glued to the front hairline, as that was a popular place to add a flash of colour. There were also coloured laquers that were painted onto the hair (natural or bleached). We’d say the hair pieces would be the quick and easy way to add a bright pink or blue. See the British Pathé video link under “Find Out More” to see what we mean.

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