As much as I love playing with makeup and experimenting with hair and skincare products, I’ve never been fond of how they’re marketed to me. Cosmetics commercials are easily some of the most condescending, cheesy, and sexist ads running on TV today, even when they’re trying to be empowering.
I started taking notice of beauty commercials in the late ’80s, and needless to say, the ads from that era seem even more ridiculous when I watch them now. But go even further back, and they can seem completely outrageous.
I’ve rounded up a few old TV spots that, if you’re anything like me, will simultaneously offend your sensibilities and crack you up.
Maybelline Eye Makeup (1965)
“With Maybelline, even eyes like these quickly become eloquent eyes … Maybelline makes even ordinary eyes important.” Damn, Maybelline, eye-shame much?
Clairol Kindness Curlers (1970s)
I know we drop the “-shame” suffix a lot here (hell, I just did it in response to the last commercial), but this commercial literally shames women for being seen wearing curlers. Ironically, the product is called Kindness.
Shulton Corn Silk Face Powder (1960s)
I don’t know if this stony male voiceover is supposed to seem sexy, but the way he says, “A face powder made from corn. That’s right: corn,” is hilariously creepy to me.
Pond’s Angel Skin (1960s)
Ladies, when you’re done doing the dishes, you want your skin to be smooth enough for your wedding ring to slip right back on. Oh, and white enough, too.
Dorothy Gray Salon Cold Cream (1950s)
Guys, they put freakin’ radioactive dirt on the model’s face. I’m pretty sure cold cream isn’t going to do shit for radiation poisoning.
L’Erin Lip Colors (1980s)
A “fiery arsenal” of “devastating color.” Because war isn’t hell — it’s hot. (Also, does anyone else feel like the models seem sedated? Is that the only way they’d go along with such an ill-advised theme?)
Do you remember any especially unforgivable beauty commercials? Are there any running right now that make you shake your head?