A Receipt To Look Ten Years Younger

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Regular readers of this blog will know that to Marie Claire I prefer the Ackerman’s Repository, a women’s magazine published in the nineteenth century. And like any magazine, this one too contained adverts. The tactics used to entice people to buy products – exaggerated promises, celebrity endorsements and making women feel bad for aging – haven’t changed.

However, back then adverts were small essays. Pictures were rarely used so they employed only words to promote the products and some of them were of considerable length. Imagine reading something like that today? Most of us ignore ads even when they only feature a huge photo and a slogan! Anyway, I thought I’d share with you these adverts (the shorter ones!) about Atkinson’s products that I found in an old edition of the magazine:


GREY HAIR in early life is a serious misfortune, and all the addition of dress can never remove that idea which it conveys of old age: hence powders and false hair are used to cover the defect, but the objections to both are innumerable — an article which supersedes their necessity is to be found in ATKINSON’S VEGETABLE DYE, a botanic composition, at once cleanly, innocent, and efficacious; by the most simple mode of application, it changes red or grey hair to a permanent and beautiful auburn or black. Sold in bottles, at 5s. and 10s. 6d or five small bottles in one, price one guinea.

N. B. As there are various quack articles which are sold for the pretended purpose of dying the hair, which are both pernicious and do not have the effect, and which may tend to prejudice those who have been imposed on against an article of real merit, the Proprietor offers to forfeit


if the Vegetable Dye does not answer every purpose for which it is recommended.

To dress the Hair with ATKINSON’S CURLING FLUID, composed of vegetable Ingredients, conveys the most fascinating beauty to the hair, is unrivalled for promoting its growth, and gives such strength to the curl as preserves it in form even in exercise or in damp weather. Price 3s. 6d and 6s or eight small Bottles, price one guinea.

CAUTION – Ask for Atkinson’s Fluid or Dye, and observe the signature, as there are several base imitations of the most noxious quality.

In another issue of the magazine, the ad for Atkinson’s curling fluid mentioned that it was patronized by the royal family and other ladies of fashion, and described in more detail what this concoction was supposed to do:

A PREPARATION of balsamic vegetable ingredients, stands unrivalled for beautifying and nourishing the hair, gives it a gloss equal to the finest silk, and conveys, even to the weakest hair, such a tone of strength and elasticity, that it will retain its curl in exercise or in damp weather: it eradicates the scurf, &c.; and by its subtle, nutritive qualities, it gives such stimulus to the natural moisture which nourishes the hair, as occasions it to grow on Eye-brows, Whiskers, and Mustachios, with the most beautiful luxuriance; it preserves the hair from ever changing colour, or falling off, to the latest period of life; and where the head is actually bald, it will, in most cases, regenerate it in all its pristine youth and beauty.

Each bottle contained an essay on hair which describes “its nature, and pointing out the means to recover and preserve it to the latest period of life, &c. with numerous respectable testimonies of the efficacy of the Curling Fluid, and various information relative to the Hair, well worth the attention of all who value the ornament of a fine head of Hair.”

What do you think of these old ads? Would they have enticed you to try the products?

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  1. Sherry B. says

    I love these posts sooooo much, Gio; thank you! And yeah, as fine and thin as my hair is, I would have probably been fool enough to try it— and then, ended up completely BALD! lol

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Sherry, I’m sure many would have. They sure make the product sound amazing. :)

      And I’m glad you like these posts. I’ll post more tidbits as I find them. :)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Icaria, that’s so true. Advertisers certainly know how to fool people. It’s a shame that still so many years later there aren’t more strict rules.

      You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it. :)

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