Thursday, April 1, 2010

The degeneration ...and rise, of nail polish ads

I was out searching for photos of old Cutex bottles à propos the H&M I posted about earlier today. As I remember it, the Cutex bottles of my childhood (the 80's) had a very distinct streamline look, but alas, the only photo from the time in question showed something other than I remembered. But, to my great surprise, there's a shitload of old Cutex ads available. I am a vintage ho, so I happily browsed all the images I could find, and saved them down to a folder on my harddrive, appropriately named the Swedish word for "nail porn".

As I was browsing, I could clearly see how the trends of advertising cosmetics has changed over the last hundred years. I guess you could say I managed to do a little cosmetic time travelling, steadily seated here at home, in my couch.

Already at the end of the first world war, advertising targeted women and their needs... 1918:

The most beautiful image I found was this one. Of course it was also the smallest one.

And how do you like these trendy shades?

But maaan... That gown! 'Cause we all want to look like the stars, don't we?

And sometimes that can come out pretty edgy, but also scary.

How is this one for a fall collection ad? Not that damn off in our days after all. Back in the day, ads were art!

Oh yes, they were... Red, it's still the most popular nail shade Ever! if you ask OPI.

But of course we want to be practical too, don't we?

Notice the again trendy manicure- this was back in 1937!

But we can't always be glamourous in Hollywood- let's take it with us, out to war!

Nail polish- a girl's best friend.

Or is it..?

I even found an ad in my own language. That Cutex company sure had some kind of world domination.

At some point during the 60's, someone realised they had to get playful, rather than informative.

Apparently, women were sporting skittles already back then.

And now we're very close to the bottle I thought I remembered. It's from the 70's- maybe my wicked witchy ex stepmother kept on to her older bottles? I think she actually gave me one of hers... Bet it was pink. Back in '86. But no, it didn't have that ring across the handle, and it was a little pointier. With an angled top?

And now on to the really sad part in the history of nail polish advertising. The sad decade, the time of my early upbringing. The 80's.

Seriously, would you go buy yourself a new bottle of polish after seeing this ad?

The handle i remember looked like that, but the bottle looked more like the 70's bottle. Maybe I am just senile?

Maybe things haven't changed that much after all. And one thing is for sure. After seeing the ad above, I will go out and buy nail polish.

Swedish word of the night:
utsvävning -noun digression
Because I just can't help myself.


  1. this was an awesome post! Thanks!

  2. This is a fantastic, interesting and really informative post! Thank you!

  3. I love these posts

  4. I love these old ads. The very first bottle of nail polish that I ever bought with my own money was a bottle of Cutex red nail polish, I must have bee about 8 years old. Started a long long love affair with polish. Raspberry Sherbet was one of my favorite Cutex colors, still miss it!

  5. Lovely! Advertising at its best - for nail polish! Wow, how fascinating to see the advertising and nail trends through the ages. No wonder Red is a color that's still popularized by most nail companies now, it's one of the few colors that has been around for decades! Truly timeless. Thanks for this post.

  6. Om du är intresserad av sminkkonsumtion och reklam kring den i ett historiskt perspektiv kan jag tipsa om "Röda läppar och shinglat hår- Konsumtionen av kosmetika i Sverige 1900-1960" av Johan Söderberg. Det är länge sedan jag läste den nu (kurslitteratur) men den var väldigt intressant. Det handlar om föreställningar/fördomar om sminkanvändning kopplat till samhällstrender, som t. ex. kvinnors kliv in på arbetsmarknaden. I stycket om nagellack beskrivs röda naglar (under 30-talet) som ett uttryck för "den rent primitiva smaken" och "blodröda naglar betecknades som trogna Afrikaimitationer", alltså en symbol för en primitiv sexualitet som kopplades till Afrika.

  7. So glad you all liked this post! I do too, I'm a sucker for nice esthetics (and some not so nice).

    malen: Det låter helt klart intressant! Ska se om jag kan hitta den i närheten, möjligen på biblioteket, om man har tur! :)

  8. Jag minns flaskan så som du gör. 70-talsflaskan med 80-talskorken alltså, den som inte finns på bild. Mina första nagellack var Cutex, ett svart, ett blått och ett i guld. Minns det som om det var igår. Minns flaskan också. Vad konstigt att den inte syntes på någon av reklambilderna...

  9. Sminkan: Skönt att höra att det inte är mitt minne det är fel på! Jag hade knappt några egna nagellack när jag var under 10, min mamma har aldrig varit intresserad av skönhetsprodukter över huvud taget. Det var som en helt ny värld när man var hemma hos plastmorsan. :) Mina första svarta, blå och gröna var Wet'n'wilds från den tiden de såldes på HM! <3

  10. That was fun!
    It's so interesting to see how times have changed.
    And I have a bottle of Cutex nail polish remover right next to me as I type this. ahaha!

  11. Love this post! it made me remember good, old Cutex!! :)

  12. This is awesome!! where did you find all of these great ads? I love seeing this polish history through advertising. Very, very cool.

  13. Very informative, great post! I enjoyed time traveling, too!

  14. Very innovative ads..I like it.

  15. Thank you very much for this post! All those ads are wonderful and very useful for me.

  16. I remember the bottle you talk about. Actually I searched it too. I think I found one ad

  17. Thanks for posting this. Believe it or not, it actually helped me out with an English assignment that I'm doing on advertising, particularly nail polish :) Love these old types of ads though they're so timeless and classic. Just gorgeous. Great post. Thanks again.

  18. I love these old ads. The very first bottle of nail polish that I ever bought with my own money was a bottle of Cutex red nail polish, I must have bee about 8 years old. Started a long long love affair with polish. Raspberry Sherbet was one of my favorite Cutex colors, still miss it!
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