Category Archives: IntoVintageAugust2013

Cold Cream for Beauty

If you’re looking for a vintage beauty regime, it doesn’t get much more historic than Cold Cream.

old advert (28) commons
Chrissy from The Lindy Charm School for Girls takes a look at the history of the most famous Vanishing Beauty Cream there is and how you can make your own at home today.


Ponds Cold Cream Promo

Print Advertisement 1910

Cold Cream has been around a lot longer than you probably imagined. It was formulated by a Greek physician named Galen in the 2nd century. His formulation consisted of one part melted white wax added to three parts olive oil. To add a scent to this cream, he steeped rose buds in the oil. He then blended in as much water as he could and voilà… cold cream!

The formulation has changed a little since Galen’s experiments, but its core essence of a moisturising cleanser has stayed with us – and for good reason. This splendid concoction has the unique ability to deep cleanse whilst nourishing the skin, which has seen it remain a firm favourite all over the world.


Cold cream was a real hit in the 1940s when women liberally used it all over their bodies to achieve all-round glowing skin. But more to the point, in times of austerity it was an affordable luxury for everyone.

Have you met ’Peter and Polly Ponds’? They are funny little characters that were invented to sell Ponds Cold Creams in magazine campaigns in the 1920’s to everyday people. Sample sachets were also placed in every magazine. In fact commercial cosmetics are still using the same advertising campaign today with their free giveaways.

Ponds Vanishing Cream pres ad 1917

Ponds Vanishing Cream press ad 1917

Vanishing Cream press ad

Lady Maureen Cooper endorses Vanishing Cream 1949

Here are some home remedies you can make yourself:

These recipes come from a Swedish beauty book from 1946, Skönhet by Vivan Huber.

Cold cream – Classic recipe
250 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/ester)
25 gm White beeswax
250 gm Olive oil
150 gm Rose water
2 drops of Rose or Lavender oil
7 pinches of Borax

Mix oil, wax and spermaceti and heat it slowly under constant stirring. Let it cool a little and mix the borax with the rose water with a silver spoon. Add that to the cream and continue to stir until it is cold. Then add the rose or lavender oil.

Lemon cold cream
250 gm Almond oil
14 gm White beeswax
14 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
250 gm Rose water
5 pinches of Borax
50 drops of lemon juice or essence

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Almond cold cream
5 gm Borax
300 gm Water (Distilled)
100 gm White beeswax
100 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
200 gm Almond Oil
300 gm Lanolin
30 drops of Rose oil

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Salicylic cold cream
For irritated skin
5 gm Salicylic acid
15 gm Glycerol
150 gm Water (Distilled)
100 gm White beeswax
100 gm Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
500 gm Lanolin
10 drops of Bergamot oil
10 drops of Orange flower oil

Heat wax, spermaceti and lanolin while stirring and add a mixture of borax, water and glycerol. Stir until the creme is frothy and then add bergamot and orange flower oil.

Nourishing cold cream
Spermaceti (Jojoba oil/esters)
Olive oil
9 drops of Bergamot oil

Made in the same way as Cold cream.

Muscle oil
Not a cold cream, but this oil is an excellent complement. It is used to ward off wrinkles around eyes, mouth and forehead.
20 gm Castor oil
10 gm of Almond oil
8 drops of Rose oil

Pour all ingredients in a bottle and shake until well mixed. Keep in a cool place.


Note:  Home-made beauty products lack preserving components and don’t last as long as the cosmetic products you buy, so it’s a good idea to keep them in the fridge. When preparing them, be mindful of contamination. Sterilise your containers first and make sure you wear gloves or use a utensil when mixing.

Do you have any cold cream formulas passed down by the women in your family?


For more beauty tips and fashion tricks, visit The Lindy Charm School for Girls at the Sydney Vintage Fair, September 27 – 29, 2013


Images sourced from: Flickr:Jussi Nesster; Creative Commons: Wikimedia Commons



Esther Williams – Million Dollar Mermaid


Esther Williams once estimated she had swum more than 1,250 miles for the cameras in an aqua-movie musical career with MGM that spanned more than ten years.
Chrissy from The Lindy Charm School for Girls recalls her introduction into Esther Williams’ world:


Pin-Up photo for Yank, The Army Weekly magazine, 1945

Pin-Up photo for Yank, The Army Weekly magazine, 1945

I happened upon a quaint little book exchange store a few years ago and the first book to catch my eye was in the bargains bin (later I reflected on the tragic misplacement of such a book). I instantly recognised the unmistakable gold lamé bathing suit and the stunning beauty wearing it as none other than one of my favourite original Pin Up Gals, Miss Esther Williams, aka The Million Dollar Mermaid. Indeed a happy day and that book was now mine.

On the first page, the first heading I read was “Esther Williams, Cary Grant and LSD”. I could not put it down. Do yourself a favour and buy the book. It’s a great read with lots of history and insight into the lives of the glamorous MGM stars and their leading men!

“Esther Williams had one contribution to make to movies — her magnificent athletic body,” the film critic Pauline Kael wrote.

Esther Williams was born August 8th, 1922 in LA and died June 6th, 2013 at 91 years of age. It would seem swimming really is good for you!

Originally training for the Olympics, these dreams were pushed aside when Hitler’s march on Europe forced the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics. She had to settle for joining Billy Rose’s San Francisco Aquacade where the combination of her stunning looks and water ballet prowess caught the eye of MGM Talent Scouts. A star was about to be born. Even though she did not possess any acting, singing or dancing experience, she was signed by them and went on for the next eleven years swimming her way through no less than 18 movies, mostly shot in Studio 30 which housed a purpose-built swimming pool just for her.

“Clark Gable was the first to have called me a mermaid”. – Esther.

Promotional for Fiesta, 1947

Promotional for Fiesta, 1947

Performing in that 25ft-deep pool, which the swimmers nicknamed Pneumonia Alley, Ms Williams ruptured her eardrums seven times and nearly died when filming the climactic 50ft dive in Million Dollar Mermaid. She nearly broke her neck and spent half a year in a body cast. That’s dedication to your craft!

Asked once who her favourite leading man was, Esther Williams offered a simple and unsurprising response: “The water”.

I always wondered how she managed to keep her glamorous looks under water. Apparently MGM covered the star in a thick cream makeup and lathered her hair in baby oil and Vaseline. She remarked in her biography that by the time she came out of hair and makeup she was as waterproof as a mallard.

Esther Williams posing in a swimsuit 1939

Esther Williams posing in a swimsuit 1939

What I believe makes Esther a stand-out are her natural attributes such as:

•    Her winning smile – you should never leave home without it. It does help to have the perfect All-American-Smile though.
•    Esther’s hair was quite voluminous and seems to have had a natural wave which gave her those effortless styles. Even so, I’m sure she almost certainly used a setting lotion such as The Essential Setting Lotion by The Lindy Charm School for Girls. Esther would have also routinely pin-curled her hair once or twice a week to get, and keep that wave full and manageable.
•    Her eyebrows are quite possibly the nicest shape I have ever seen, perfectly arched and not too thin, creating a lovely wide open shape to her eyes. I am a fan of limited eye makeup if you have striking eyebrows. A little cheek stain and lipstick is all you need and this worked for Ms Williams too. Simple yet striking.
•    Of course having a stunningly fit figure due to her swimming regime helped, combined with the most amazing costumes. But as Alex Perry, women’s fashion designer says, “you can couture any garment to make a woman’s body appear smaller and give any figure shape. It’s all in the nip and tuck”.

Actresses from this era had the best designers in the business nipping and tucking their every need, but I do believe the design and construction of the garments back in this time created a more flattering, feminine look as a matter of course – definitely much more than the fashion of today does.

Vale Esther Williams is an Inspiration Immortal.

Images sourced from Creative Commons Wikimedia Commons


Vintage Poster Passion

Vintage Posters Only owner Sam Johnson discovered his interest in vintage posters while living in Paris in the early 1990s.

Bally Kick by Bernard Villemot

Bally Kick by Bernard Villemot

On seeing the vintage posters that adorned the walls of Parisian cafes, restaurants and shops, ‘The Poster King’ or P.K., as he’s known, started his own collection which soon grew into a gallery of works that can now be viewed at his Melbourne shop front or through his website.

Every poster is a work of art and has a story to tell, from the artist who created it, to the product it is selling. So what’s so special about Vintage Posters? Most importantly, these are the original posters, meaning they are from the original print runs. The posters reflect a particular moment in time and essentially document our history. Take a look into the collection at Vintage Posters Only and you will be instantly transported to Paris in the 1930’s sipping on Bitter Camparis, or fast forward to the ‘70’s where you will find yourself lacing up your Bally flats.
The Poster King’s collection is unlike any other with an array of categories to select from. From advertisements for bicycles to shoes, wine to a Joan Miro art exhibition, Moulin Rouge girls to television sets – everything you can think of and more.

Vintage posters are great for decorating any space and are a guaranteed talking point in your home or at your place of business. Given there is such a wide range of images, art styles and themes to choose from, it is possible to find your perfect vintage poster.

Bitter Campari by Cappiello

Bitter Campari by Cappiello

Picasso Musee Granet by Picasso

Picasso Musee Granet by Picasso

Bally Blonde by Bernard Villemot

Bally Blonde by Bernard Villemot

Corsets Le Furet by Roger Perot

Corsets Le Furet by Roger Perot

Printemps by Author Unknown

Printemps by Author Unknown

Fashion Exhib by Artist Unknown

Fashion Exhib by Artist Unknown

Vins Camp Romain by L Gadoud

Vins Camp Romain by L Gadoud

Australia Kangaroo by Eileen Mayo

Australia Kangaroo by Eileen Mayo

Louis Vuitton Classic by Razzia

Louis Vuitton Classic by Razzia

You can contact Sam by email or during business hours on 03 9500 2505



Yellow for Inspiration

Daffodil Day is officially Friday August 23rd across Australia. It represents hope for a cancer-free future and raises funds for cancer research, patient support and prevention programs with just a little help from us all – simply visit the Daffodil Day website to find out more.




The yellow daffodil is such a bright, happy colour – uplifting and illuminating, it offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun! Yellow loves a challenge and is the colour of the networker, talker or communicator.  Yellow made a huge fashion appearance in the ‘50’s and 70’s, in art deco jewellery and other pieces in the 1920s, furnishings and interior design colour schemes in the 1950s and ‘60’s and glassware in various hues throughout the decades.
Which of these items brighten your wardrobe, home, or your day in general?


1 Vintage dress by Bower Bird Vintage
2 Reversible necklace by Recycology
3 Antique lace by Pitt Trading
4 Swimwear by Sirens Swimwear
5 Swimwear by Beyond the Sea Swimwear
6 Hat & Jug by The Vintage Advantage
7 Party dress by The Vintage Drawer
8 Marimekko Cushion by Kiitos
9 Homewares by That Retro Piece


Find these items* and more at The Vintage Fair, September 27-29, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, Sydney


* Kiitos will not be an exhibitor at The Vintage Fair


Buttons from a Bygone Era

Renee Blackwell, from Renee Blackwell Designs has been designing and making jewellery for more than 25 years and she’s as excited about her chosen path today as the day she started!

Blackwell in purchase mode

Renee recalls:

One of the main reasons for this is my discovery of vintage and antique buttons and how I have used them in my jewellery for the past five years or so. I still work with and love gemstones, but that’s another story!

Five years ago on a trip to Paris, I was at an antique market where I met a woman who deals only in these sorts of buttons and I was instantly mesmerised! They were so very beautiful and unique and I could instantly see how they might be incorporated into my designs. So I bought a handful, not really knowing their history or much about them at all – I just knew I loved them. When I brought them back to my studio I set most as earrings and pendants into sterling silver. They looked awesome!

Since then I have been back to Paris three times. I’m actually writing this from my apartment in Paris … we fly home to Australia in a few days. And yes, I have buttons! Beautiful, stunning, remarkable buttons. It’s hard work (but hey, it’s in Paris!) – I go everywhere to source these treasures like markets, antique shops, flea markets, button shops and several ‘secret sources’ that I have cultivated over the years. I never really know what my trip will bring – I might find just one, or an entire card of old but perfect buttons.

RB_image2 extra image

This trip also included a week in London which uncovered some wonderful buttons and antiques as well.

I’m always on the lookout for other interesting things to work with. On this trip I found vintage belt clips in London. These are quite small, hand painted clips from the 1940s. They are on their original cards and in perfect condition. I just LOVE these and my plan is to use them in earrings by setting them in sterling silver with 18ct gold surrounds.



I am often asked if I buy my buttons online. I guess this is because so many items are bought and sold online these days. But the very simple answer is no! I need to see, feel, touch and inspect each and every button I use. I need to and want to meet the person I buy them from – to learn what I can of their history, and so on. I also have several great button books in my library which help me to identify the buttons and the era they came from.

Because I set all of my jewellery in sterling silver or a combination of sterling and 18ct gold they become more ‘fine jewellery’ and my work is stocked in more than 150 jewellery shops, upmarket gift shops and galleries Australia wide. I also sell my work at a few hand-picked shows each year, including the popular Love Vintage Shows, which I find personally very satisfying.

RB_image4a RB_image6a
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I look forward to seeing you at The Vintage Fair in Sydney, September 27 – 29, 2013. Please come and say hello!

All images supplied by Renee Blackwell, Renee Blackwell Designs


Lemons for your Loveliness

Lemons have been cultivated by the western world since the 15th century. Christopher Columbus introduced lemon seeds to the Americas where lemons’ main functions were ornamental and medicinal. Then during the mid 1700s, James Lind experimented with lemons on men suffering from scurvy at sea and found this disease was minimized by adding lemon juice to the men’s diet.


Lemons have many benefitsLemons have gone on to feature significantly in our daily lives through cooking, industrial applications such as fermentation, in cleaning agents, aromatherapies and beauty treatments.

Chrissy from Lindy Charm School for Girls shares a few of her favourite lemon remedies:

Protect your hands: Before gardening it is helpful to insert a little white soap underneath your nails to prevent discolouration. Wear gloves at all times and after washing, rinse with lemonized water and apply some lemon lotion (you can make this yourself). This is important as the skin on your hands contains fewer oil glands so they dry out more readily.

Keep Beauty Aids in your Kitchen: It is a good idea to keep half a lemon in a saucer (cut side down) and apply it to your hands immediately after washing with soap or cleansing powder. This will neutralize and alkali and remove stains. Also leave a cut lemon in the fridge to destroy onion and fish odours.

Keep them manicured: Before your hands have a manicure, dip a cotton tip orange stick into a cup of warm lemonized water and clean your nails first. Your polish will hold better with clean, lemonized nails.

For your Elbows: Just because you don’t see your elbows, don’t think they escape the eyes of others. Keep them soft and smooth with lemon lotion. If they are in bad condition, scrub them with warm, soapy water and a pumice stone. One authority on beauty suggests placing your elbows in two halves of a cut lemon for a few moments each day.

Use as a Mouthwash: Half a lemon in water makes a delightfully refreshing mouthwash and kills odours.

Lemon breath freshener

Oatmeal-Egg-Lemon Mask:  Combine one egg white and the juice of one lemon. Mix and add sufficient almond meal to make a thin paste. Apply to face and leave to dry then rinse with lemonized water.

Almond Oil Lemon Lotion:  Combine four parts sweet almond oil, one part fresh lemon juice and a few drops of your favorite perfume. Shake well and use often.

Lemon Hand Lotion:  Combine two parts of fresh lemon juice, one part glycerine and one part rubbing alcohol. Perfume as desired.

Lemon Ice:  Two parts fresh lemon juice with one part water. Freeze into cubes.

Lemon-Egg Shampoo: Combine the yolk of one egg, one tablespoon of olive oil, juice from half a lemon and stir with an egg beater. Rub well into scalp, rinse with warm water containing lemon juice from one and a half lemons for final rinse, shine and softness.


Excerpts from the book:  Lemons for Your Loveliness, by California Fruit Growers Exchange, 1935


For more beauty tips and fashion tricks, visit The Lindy Charm School for Girls at the Sydney Vintage Fair, September 27 – 29, 2013