Helena Rubinstein (1930-1945)

Continued from: Helena Rubinstein (1915-1930)

In 1931, Rubinstein regained control of the American company she had sold to Lehman Brothers in 1928. She would later claim to have bought it back after getting complaints from store owners.

I had made many friends amongst the store owners, and they kept in frequent touch with me. As time went on they complained bitterly of the way in which the American business was being run by the new owners. Some wrote regretfully that it would no longer be possible for them to sell the Rubinstein preparations. Distribution had been expanded, and the new sales methods had vulgarized my products.

(Rubinstein, 1965, p. 72)

Rubinstein was more likely worried about the price of her remaining shares than the concerns of the store owners. By 1931, common stock in the company had fallen to $US2 per share – down from US$18 per share in 1929 – a situation that neither Rubinstein or Lehman Brothers had predicted.

Rubinstein owned 44% of the common stock of Helena Rubinstein, Inc. so had lost a lot of money. On the upside, the collapse in the share price enabled her to regain a controlling interest in the company – reported to be 52% of the company stock (Woodhead, 2003, p. 234) by buying shares cheaply on the open market. So, having sold the American company for a reported US$7.3 million, she managed to buy it back for about US$1.5 million.

There was some truth to Rubinstein’s ‘vulgarisation’ claim but she only objected to her products being repositioned in the volume market when the share price of the company collapsed. After regaining control, she set about reversing this selling strategy. In 1932, she reestablished trade zones giving retailers who sold her products a local monopoly. This reduced price-cutting and reintroduce a degree of exclusivity for her products. Accredited representatives were given a large colour portrait of Madame to hang on their wall.

You will find an adequate supply of the basic Helena Rubinstein creations at leading department and drug stores which display the new “Emblem of Authority”—a portrait of Helena Rubinstein in color, now distinguishing all Authorized Helena Rubinstein Dealers. Wherever you see this Emblem, you will find an ample supply of basic Helena Rubinstein creams, lotions and cosmetics—all laboratory-fresh—and a trained advisor is always in attendance to aid you in your choice.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1932)

Net company profits, which were US$500,200 in 1929, had fallen to US$415,961 by 1931 and Rubinstein was unable to stop the slide – US$120,904 (1932), US$182,408 (1933) US$159,357 (1934). It reached a low point of US$56,494 in 1935.

To improve sales, Rubinstein hired Harry T. Johnson as the new company sales director In 1933. He remained in this position until he was head-hunted by Elizabeth Arden in 1937 forcing Rubinstein to replace him with Myer H. Katz in 1938.

As part of the sales push, steps were taken to improve the training of Rubinstein demonstrators. In 1937, a new demonstrator training school was opened in the Fifth Avenue Salon, starting with a selection of fifty women from leading department stores in the United States and Canada. The school may have been modelled on the Rubinstein Beauty Schools that had begun running for the general public in department stores since 1933.

Helena Rubinstein School of Beauty

Above: c.1933 Stern Brothers department store window advertising the Helena Rubinstein School of Beauty on the second floor.

The American business also underwent substantial restructuring, culminating in a recapitalisation approved by the board in 1936. Things slowly improved but net profits did not return to 1920s levels until the 1940s.

Rubinstein’s interests in Britain and Europe do not appear to have suffered to the same extent as those in the United States but these markets were smaller and centred on the upper end of the cosmetic market which was less likely to be affected by the economic downturn.

Brand image

Lehman Brothers had focussed the company brand around the image of Helena Rubinstein rather than Valaze, a strategy Rubinstein continued after she regained control of the company. The Valaze brand was used more prominently outside of North America in the 1930s but its use there gradually declined as well.

Using the image of Helena Rubinstein to identify the brand had one major issue. By 1932, Rubinstein was in her sixties and no longer had the flawless skin and slim figure that had helped establish her business. To get around this problem, publicity photographs of her were ‘doctored’ to make her appear middle-aged.

1932 Helena Rubinstein photograph with suggested alterations 1932 Helena Rubinstein altered photograph

Above: 1932 Helena Rubinstein photograph by Cecil Beaton [1904-1980] for Vanity Fair showing how the published photographs were altered to remove age lines and excess flesh. Images of Rubinstein used in advertising were usually in profile, perhaps because they were easier to doctor.

Appearing in the flesh was another matter. Rubinstein’s tour of Australia in 1957 did considerable damage to the brand there when women saw Madame in person and discovered how aged she looked.

1957 Helena Rubinstein in Australia

Above: 1957 Helena Rubinstein with Mr. Pettigrew and Mr. Hunt of the Myer Emporium, Melbourne during her Australia tour.

Fortunately, there were younger ‘Rubinsteins’ to take over most of the face-to-face interactions with the general public. In the United States this role was picked up by Helena’s niece Mala Kolin who renamed herself Mala Rubinstein.

1937 Mala Rubinstein conducting a beauty class

Above: 1937 Mala Rubinstein conducting a beauty class.


Rubinstein’s flagship salons gave her products an aura of exclusivity, elegance and culture and remained an important part of her business image between the wars. Women who could not afford a Rubinstein salon visit could indulge in its ‘luxuries’ by purchasing Rubinstein skin creams and make-up. Rubinstein reinforced this idea by suggesting that many of her products sold for use at home had once only been available to her exclusive salon clients.

Adapted for your Home Use
After a journey or a long period out-of-doors and whenever the season changes—your skin needs a more intensive beauty treatment. Many of my European clients, and most of my English ones, make it a practice to devote one or two days a week to elaborate beauty care in addition to their regular treatments. For these women I have prepared the following rare home treatments of Oriental origin such as are given in my salons.

(Rubinstein, 1937, p. 20)

To ensure that her products were used correctly Rubinstein – like most other cosmetic companies – provided her customers with detailed written instructions on how the products were to be applied and the company also answered letters from women about their particular beauty problems. However, Rubinstein went one step further, dispensing beauty tips through a series of ghost-written books – ‘The Art of Feminine Beauty’ (1930) and ‘This Way to Beauty’ (1936). As well as information on skin-care, hair-care and make-up, these books also had chapters devoted to exercise and diet. Diet was a particularly interesting to Rubinstein who struggled with a weight problem for most of her life and she also published another book that was devoted to the subject, ‘Food for Beauty’, in 1938. However, when it came to her personal eating habits, she seems to have disregarded most of the advice it offered.

After Elizabeth Arden opened her new salon and gymnasium at 691 Fifth Avenue, New York, Rubinstein became increasingly unhappy with the size and position of her salon on 57th Street. Consequently, she leased a seven-storey building at 715 Fifth Avenue and, after renovating the space, opened a larger, more luxurious salon there in 1936.

Rubinstein salon at 715 Fifth Avenue

Above: Exterior of the salon at 715 Fifth Avenue, New York designed by Harold Sterner [1895-1976] and Samuel Oxhandler [1899-1894]. The Bauhaus-like signage rendered in lower case generated a lot of artistic interest and was used by Rubinstein in much of her subsequent advertising.

1936 salon interior 1936 Rubinstein salon interior

Above: Interior views of the salon at 715 Fifth Avenue designed by Ladislas Medgyes [1892-1952] and Mathilde Martine Kane [1893-1975]. Modernist lines were mixed with baroque elements, interspersed with pieces from Rubinstein’s art collection.

To generate publicity, Rubinstein opened the salon with an exhibition of miniature antique furniture from her private collection. Situated on the second floor, the exhibition was satirised in the 1939 movie ‘The Women’.

18th century Spanish dining room

Above: Helena Rubinstein adjusting a miniature object in a diorama of an 18th century Spanish dining room.

See also: ‘The Women’ (1939)

The new salon offered a holistic approach to beauty developed according to ‘scientific principles’. Clients were provided with beauty-care facilities for their body, face and hair – beauty of form, beauty of face, and beauty of hair.

In my Salon, I require that my clients have a physical examination and a diet presented by a physician; and I suggest you do likewise. … Before you begin to decorate a house you clean and set it in order. Your body should be treated in the same manner.

(Rubinstein, 1936, p. 31)

Clients could book into the salon for individual treatments or, for US$25 and up, come for a full ‘Day of Beauty’ which included diet and exercise programs. The new salon was very successful and Rubinstein duplicated many of the facilities it offered in her Paris salon when it was upgraded in 1937.

See also: Rubinstein Day of Beauty

Salon treatments

As mentioned earlier, a number of Rubinstein salon treatments could be duplicated at home. Included amongst these were a range of facial masks; e.g., Herbal Mask, Pomade Noire, Pore Mask, Beautilift Mask and the Eastern Balsam Oil Treatment. However, some procedures required the use of specialised salon equipment. These included:

Derma-lens: Known in some salons as the Dermascope, the device was used in initial consultations to show clients a magnified image of their face. By exposing their flaws it would help convince them of the need for an extensive treatment plan. First used in 1934, it was superseded by the Polaroid Skin Analyser that Rubinstein introduced in 1939.

1937 Derma-Lens

Above: 1937 Derma-Lens as used in Rubinstein’s New York salon.

See also: Complexion Analysers

Oxylation treatment: This sprayed oxygen filtered through a herbal solution onto the skin which the skin could then ‘breathe in’. The equipment was similar to that used in a Carbonic Gas Spray but used oxygen instead of carbon dioxide.

1938 Oxylation Treatment

Above: 1938 Oxylation Treatment in a Rubinstein salon.

See also Carbonic Gas Sprays

Oxylation was generally employed as one step in a more extensive facial treatment; e.g., Dermal Cleansing.

Visit the salon for a Dermal Cleansing Treatment. By a unique combination of herbal vapour, light therapy (to stimulate circulation), inch-by-inch cleansing with a special extractor, masks and oxylation, your skin is freed of impurities, acid discolourations and open pores.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1939)

Electro-tonic treatment: This used electrical pulses to induce muscle contractions, to ‘exercise and strengthen’ the muscles of the face and increase blood circulation. This was supposed to firm the ‘underlying tissues that grow tired and sag and pull the skin out of place’. Rubinstein recommended it for any part of the face where lines or hollows might appear or to improve the contour of the throat and remove double chins.

1939 Electro-tonic treatment

Above: 1939 Electro-tonic treatment in a Rubinstein salon. The pad was fixed in place with a rubber chin strap but the operator is also using her hands to ensure that good contact with the skin has been achieved. The treatment appears to have originated in France where it was first known as the Masque Ambival.

The idea was also used on the body as part of a weight-control and body-resculpturing program in areas such as the thighs.

Diathermy: The use of high-frequency electrical currents to warm facial tissues in beauty treatments had been pioneered by Elizabeth Arden with her Vienna Youth Mask (1928). A similar treatment was introduced by Helena Rubinstein as her Masque Monova in her Paris salon in 1935.

See also: Arden Vienna Youth Mask

Rubinstein usually combined this diathermic mask with a cosmetic preparation so in the United States a salon diathermy treatment could be known by a variety of names; e.g., Hormone Heat Mask.

1934 Hormone Heat Mask

Above: 1934 Helena Rubinstein Hormone Heat Mask.

[T]he Hormone Heat Masque … gets to work on your skin in successive steps and layers. First there is the hormone cream, Madame Rubinstein’s first candidate for rejuvenation. Then, an electrode and over that a masque to shape it to your face are applied, and the heat action begins to force the cell stimulating cream down into your skin.

(Rubinstein advertorial, 1934)

As early as 1929, Rubinstein also used diathermy machines to permanently remove hair and treat telangetasia (small surface capillaries) in a process that we would now know as thermolysis.

Also see: Thermolysis and the Blend

San-O-Therm: During this treatment the client lay on a massage table covered with an electric blanket under a cabinet warmed with an infra-red heater. This was said to increase circulation, facilitate skin elimination (i.e., increase sweating), relieve pain and relax tense muscles and ligaments.

1937 San-O-Therm

Above: 1937 The San-O-Therm treatment usually formed part of a weight-reduction program that included a vigorous reducing massage.

Paraffin wax treatments: Full-body paraffin wax treatments were carried out in Rubinstein salons and there were also paraffin wax treatments for the face, hands and feet. Body treatments were generally employed to reduce weight while those used on the hands, feet and face were to help soften the skin.

1937 Paraffin Wax Treatment

Above: 1937 Paraffin Wax Treatment.

See also: Paraffin Wax Treatments


Perfumes became more important to Rubinstein cosmetics in the 1930s. The company already produced higher-priced powders and other forms of make-up scented with Water Lily and Enchanté fragrances and before America entered the Second World War she added a number of new perfumes including Town (1936), Country (1936), Apple Blossom (1938), Flower Petal (1938), Gala Performance (1940), Heaven-Sent (1941) and White Fame (1942) As well as perfumes, eau de toilettes and eau de Colognes, these fragrances were used in make-up and skin-care cosmetics along with other products such as soaps, body sachets and deodorants.


Above: 1938 Helena Rubinstein Flower Petal Eau de Colognes: English Garden, American Garden and French Garden.


In the late 1930s, Rubinstein’s skin-care lines came under increasing government regulation In the United States. By 1936, Rubinstein, Inc. was receiving cease and desist notices from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerning the advertising for many of its skin-care products which the commission claimed were “grossly exaggerated, false, misleading, and untrue”.

In truth and in fact, said preparations do not possess properties or contain ingredients that will feed or nourish the skin or lips, revitalize or restore youth to the skin, or prevent crows feet, wrinkles, or lines about the eyes. Said preparations do not contain hormones or living sparks of life which increase the therapeutic value of the products. Respondent’s “Marienbad Slenderizing Bath Salts” will not dissolve fatty tissues, nor are they effective weight reducers. Respondent’s “Eye Lotion” will not relieve eye strain or strengthen eye nerves. Respondent’s “Eyelash Grower and Darkener” will not grow or promote the growth of eyelashes in all cases, nor will respondent’s “Hormone Scalp Food” improve the growth and texture of the hair in all cases. Respondent’s “Youthful Herb Mask” does not contain the juices of 23 different herbs.

(‘Federal Trade Commission decisions’, 1939, p. 229)

Regulatory conditions in America tightened even further after the passing of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&CA) in 1938 and Rubinstein was forced to scale back many of her advertising claims there and rename some of her existing lines; e.g., Pore Mask was changed to Special Cream Mask and Herbal Eye Tissue Oil became Herbal Eyelid Oil. One of her oldest products got caught up in this process. The original Dr. Lykusky’s Russian Skinfood Valaze, known as Valaze Beautifying Skinfood by the 1920s, became Wake-up Cream after the use of the word ‘skinfood’ was deemed misleading by the FTC.


Most of the Rubinstein skin-care lines available in the 1920s were still being promoted in the 1930s. She continued to provided treatment plans for skin of different ages – 15-25, 25-40 and over 40 – and skin-care routines for different skin types – normal, oily and dry – now with the added ‘combination’ skin.


Above: 1933 Pasteurized Face Cream, Youthifying Tissue Cream and Peachbloom face powder sample.

Women coming to a Rubinstein salon or visiting a Rubinstein counter in a department store could have their skin analysed for free by a consultant who would then set up a treatment plan but Rubinstein also provided skin analysis and treatment information that women could use at home.

1938 Rubinstein three step pack

Above: 1938 Helena Rubinstein three step treatment pack: Cleansing and Massage Cream, Perfection Cream and Town and Country Foundation.

Rubinstein’s basic skin-care routines – cleansing, stimulating/animating, nourishing/lubricating, and then toning – remained much as before with skin stimulation still being important to women with more mature skins.

If I were to teach the importance of only one beauty practice, I should devote all my time to teaching the renewing power of skin stimulation. To enjoy the young, vital look of perfect skin, the blood must be dancing through your veins, and every tiny cell functioning actively. Stimulating the skin revitalises it, actually forces it to begin working for its own beauty. Sluggish circulation is quickened and impurities, blemishes, dullness and sallowness vanish from beneath the surface. The skin becomes more transparent, lovelier . . . at once.

(Rubinstein, c.1939, p. 11)

This idea goes right back to Rubinstein’s original Russian Skinfood Valaze which she noted was not a nourishing cream but rather a ‘stimulator of the skin’s activities’ (Rubinstein, c.1939, p. 12). Other Rubinstein skin stimulators, such as Eau Verte, Eau Qui Pique or Eau D’Or, had also been used by Rubinstein for many years.

No matter what skin stimulator was employed, Rubinstein considered that it would be more effective if combined with massage which ‘exercised muscles’ and ‘stimulated nerve endings’. To help clients applying products at home, Rubinstein provided detailed diagrams showing how to carry out the correct massage movements.

1936 Facial massage movements

Above: 1936 Facial massage movements (Rubinstein, 1936, pp. 54-57).

Also see the 1937 company booklet: Beauty in the Making

Although skin stimulation was considered essential for revitalising mature skin, it was generally replaced by soothing or medicated preparations on younger, blemished skin.

1936 Beauty Chart

Above: 1936 Beauty Chart for women under 25 (Rubinstein, 1936, pp. 49-50).

Rubinstein’s other correctives for specific skin conditions – such as freckles, acne, wrinkles, puffy eyes and double chins – were much as before. She also continued to advise women on preventative treatments for each season but there was an increased emphasis on summer problems as more women engaged in the practice of suntanning.

New developments

During the 1930s some additional skin-care products were added to existing lines – e.g. Pasteurized Bleaching Cream and Pasteurized Milk Bath – and there were a number of new developments most of which seem to have had their origins in Europe.

1939 Mixing Pasteurized Face Cream

Above: 1939 Mixing Pasteurized Face Cream in the New York factory.

Herbal preparations

Rubinstein had included plant extracts from sources such as grapes, parsley, orange blossoms, water lily buds and lemons in her beauty preparations for many years but during the 1930s their use was emphasised with the addition of a number of skin-care cosmetics specifically marked as herbal. Amongst these were Herbal (Youthifying) Mask (1932); Herbal Cleansing Cream and Herbal Muscle Oil (1934); and Herbal Hair Remover, Herbal Hand Balm, Herbal Eye Tissue Oil and Herbal Skin Tonic (1935). The Herbal Muscle Oil is of particular interest as it appears to be Rubinstein’s first skin-care product that highlighted the use of vitamins.

1934 Herbal Muscle Oil and Herbal Cleansing Cream

Above: 1934 Helena Rubinstein Herbal Muscle Oil and Herbal Cleansing Cream.

Herbal Cleansing Cream: “Its cleansing powers alone would insure its fame! But in addition, it infuses the tissues with renewed vitality.”
Herbal Muscle Oil: “Designed to offset the effects of modern living—modern dieting. … [R]eplaces in the skin primary vitamins and tonic elements. Its effect on ageing throats and lined, weary eyes is a complete revelation”
Herbal Skin Tonic: “[T]he perfect summer astringent. Cools. Soothes. Braces. Carry this crystal-clear tonic with you everywhere.A grand, quick cleanser for dusty summer journeys. It leaves your skin fresh and satin-smooth. Closes pores.”
Herbal Hand Balm: “A penetrating cleanser and skin softener in one. It is creamy soft, non-sticky and non-greasy. You use it as a one-minute hand shampoo for cleansing during the day.”
Herbal Hair Remover: “Applied with a spatula then covered with a flannelette strip, rubbed and pulled off.”

The emphasis on the herbs probably stemmed from France where plant extracts were held in high esteem. Unfortunately, Rubinstein’s tendency for exaggeration meant that some of them they got her into difficulties with the American authorities, a subject I will cover further on.

Hormone extracts

In 1931, Rubinstein introduced the Hormone Twin Youthifiers into the United States and then followed this with Hormone Beauty Masque (1934), Hormone Throat Balsam and Hormone Scalp Food.

Hormone Twin Youthifiers: “Two recently discovered creams that give back to your skin what the years steal away. The Hormone Twins act chemically to stimulate skin metabolism, building up aged, wrinkled, tired tissues and restoring the buoyancy of youth to glands and muscles of the face.”
Hormone Beauty Masque: “To experience this unique beauty creation is to enjoy the almost miraculous in new beauty! It absorbs all lines and drabness from the skin, all weariness from contours. Brings new loveliness, vitality. The greatest triumph of beauty science in years!”

The Hormone Twin Youthifiers consisted of a day cream (Twin 1) and a night cream (Twin 2). Rubinstein described them as ‘biological creams’ that contained ‘glandular rejuvenating essences’. However, only the Night Cream appears to have contained hormones. It is possible that the hormone was oestrogenic but its composition is unconfirmed and the ‘rejuvenating essence’ may have been some other biological material that was not truely hormonal in nature.

Also see: Hormone Creams, Oils and Serums

Rubinstein’s first confirmed oestrogenic cosmetic was Gourielli Estrolar Cream, released in 1942.

1942 Gourielli Estrolar Cream

Above: 1942 Gourielli Estrolar Cream.


As previously mentioned, Rubinstein added a number of masks into her salon treatments during the decade and those that did not require specialised equipment were generally made available as home treatments.

To the existing Grecian Contour Mask (1930) and Water Lily Rejuvenating Mask (1930) and the previously mentioned Hormone Beauty Masque (1934), Rubinstein added the Herbal (Youthifying) Mask (1932), and the Eastern Balsam Oil Treatment (1937).

1935 Hormone Mask

Above: 1935 Hormone Mask.

Hormone Beauty Mask: “It absorbs all lines and drabness from the skin, all weariness from contours. Brings a new-born look of loveliness and vitality—thrilling radiance. A triumph of modern beauty science.”

1935 Herbal Mask

Above: 1935 Herbal Mask.

Herbal Mask: “Essences of 23 different youthifying and beautifying herbs make up this tonic, reviving mask. … [S]timulates fatigued, drab-looking skin to a new glow and radiance, tightens blurred contours into the clear-cut lines of youth and leaves the skin looking refreshed and blooming.”
Eastern Balsam Oil Treatment: “[A] blend of rare youthifying oils which effect a complete transformation of the skin. Starved, dormant, relaxed tissues eagerly absorb this rich nutrient. … Lines and wrinkles are smoothed away. Contours assume the firm rounded curves of youth.”

As well as these cosmetic masks, Rubinstein also introduced the Beautilift Masque (1937). Made from pink silk it was supposed to be dipped into Beautilift Lotion before being strapped on.

Beautilift Mask: “Made of specially treated pink silk, it is scientifically designed to the basic muscle structure of the face and throat. Dip it for the moment in the youthifying, tightening Beautilift Lotion and it is ready to be fitted on.”

Women could also purchase a Pomade Noire Mask or a Pore Mask. Although these were sold as new products they may have been developed from older lines. Pomade Noire probably used the existing Pomade Noire preparation while the Pore Mask may have been based on Rubinstein’s Blackhead and Open Pore Paste.

1935 Pommade Noire

Above: 1935 Pommade Noire.

Pomade Noire: “[R]enews the skin by means of a gradual and imperceptible skin-peeling process. Acne pits and scars, and obstinate blackheads soon disappear. Drab, lifeless skin dulled by long neglect or ill health becomes fresh and radiant again.”
Pore Mask: “The only mask that can be massaged in. It literally renews your skin—refines and closes pores, banishes blackheads whiteheads and roughened skin surfaces. Overcomes excess oiliness and that drab sallow look. It gradually clears away acne scars and leaves the skin fine-textured radiantly clear.”

In 1939, Rubinstein extend the idea of a mask to the feet with a paraffin wax treatment called a Foot and Ankle Masque and then did something similar for the hands with her Fingertip Masque (1940).

Foot and Ankle Masque: “[M]akes you feel as if you’d been paddling your feet in a mint frappé! … Draws out the aches, makes feet and limbs feel cool, supple, resilient for days afterward.”
Fingertip Masque: “[A]n emerald liquid which must be heated and each fingertip dipped in the warm liquid to the first joint. As each finger is taken out, the waxy coating forms a little jacket around the finger and nail. It should remain on the fingertips for ten minutes or so and the wax masque then peels off at a touch and the rough, horny skin at the nail corners has been reconditioned.”

Night Creams

In 1936, Rubinstein added Novena Night Cream (1936) into her range. Made with a base containing the oils used in the Eastern Oil Treatment, Novena Night Cream was designed for dry, lined skin. Other products specifically sold as night creams in this period included Hormone Night Cream, one of the Hormone Twin Youthifiers, and Town and Country Night Cream. The later was actually Youthifying Tissue Cream (1931) that had been renamed due to the provisions of the 1938 Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

Novena Night Cream: “During the hours of sleep when your body is rebuilding itself, Novena Night Cream builds new beauty deep in your skin. Fresh vitality stirs in the tissues. Gone is the look of weariness and strain. Your face regains that smooth, lush look.”


By 1930, Rubinstein was selling a complete range of make-up in limited but serviceable shade ranges. Through the 1930s she introduced new colours which, by 1936, were organised by a ‘Three-Point’ system . This matched face powder with a woman’s complexion, eye make-up with her eye colour, and rouge and lipstick with the clothing she wore.


Above: 1939 Three-Point Make-up Chart. Rubinstein added suggestions for grey eyes in later charts.

Also see the company booklet: Beauty in the Making (1937)

As with her skin-care products, Rubinstein continued to emphasise the use of make-up to express a woman’s individuality. In the late 1920s and early 1930s Rubinstein promoted this idea through her ‘Personality Make-up’. In 1935, this was followed by the ’Your Cosmetic Portrait’ promotion which explained how to use make-up to contour the face closer to an ideal.

What shape is your face—Oval, Round, Long, Heart-Shaped? Learn to model it with cosmetics, nearer your ideal.
Helena Rubinstein shows you how to dramatise your charm, stage your individuality, express the real YOU. A fascinating method of personal cosmetic styling you simply must know! Helena Rubinstein’s colorful new folio “Your Cosmetic Portrait” explains it.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1935)

Contouring had long been used in theatrical and film make-up and was heavily publicised by Hollywood cosmetics firms such as the Westmores. It was yet another example of individuality expressed through conforming to a type.

See also: Make-up, Personality and Types

Beginning in 1938, Rubinstein began introducing complete lines of colour-coordinated make-up, with new forms coming out each year. For example, her Orchid and Champagne make-up range (1938) consisted of Orchid Red Lipstick and Rouge, Orchid Eye Shadow, Deep Orchid Mascara, Orchid Red Nail Groom, and Champagne Rose Face Powder. Other coordinated ranges were Aquarelle (1938), Rose Tan (1938), Opaline (1939) and Rico Tan (1940).

Face powders

In 1930, Rubinstein sold three main face powders. Valaze, Water Lily and Enchanté. The Valaze powders, either Complexion (for normal or oily skin) or Novena (for dry skin), came in White, Cream, Natural, Rachel, Blush, Mauresque, Ochre, French Ochre, Gypsy Tan and Dixie Tan shades. As Valaze was depreciated the two powders became known simply as Novena and Complexion.

New powder colours were added during the decade including: Ivory Rachel (1932), Peachbloom (1932), Terracotta (1935), Terra Cotta-light (1936), Riviera Tan (1937), and Champagne Rose and Bisque (1938). The darker shades reflected the increased levels of suntanning and were often used in powders described as Sunproof, a ‘heavier’ powder that may have contained larger amounts of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Gypsy Tan Sunproof Powder which gives your skin a beautiful red-brown appearance that reminds you of the sun’s after-glow. Yet this Gypsy Tan Make-Up contains ingredients which counteract the ageing actinic sunrays. It’s a marvelous summer make-up.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1932)

Rubinstein also described a number of her powders as Weatherproof. These may have also have been ‘heavier’ powders but coloured with lighter shades such as Natural, Rachel, and Peaches and Cream.

In 1938, Rubinstein added Town and Country Face Powder in Peachbloom, Rachel, Mauresque and Bisque shades. The powder was ‘moisture-proofed’ (‘balsamized’) and ‘pre-expanded’, processes that were said to prevent the powder from drying the skin and enlarging the pores.

It is feathery-fine, clings longer, and actually works as a beauty treatment all the time it is on your skin. Helena Rubinstein’s new face powder is pre-expanded before it touches your skin—completely expanded by saturation so that it will not enlarge the pores. It’s balsamized—coated with a fine film of rare balsam so that it cannot rob the skin of its natural moisture. And will not dry the most sensitive skin.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1938)

It is possible that these moisture-proofed powders came out of research into baby powder. Diaper rash was a common problem in babies and ‘balsamized’ talcum powder may have been a useful preventative. In 1938, Rubinstein released a line of infant cosmetics, the same year she introduced her moisture-proof face powders which, along with Town and Country Face Powder, also included Water Lily Face Powder and Flower Petal Face Powders.

Flower Petal Face Powder (moisture-proof): “Helena Rubinstein’s flattering new powder is actually a beauty treatment for dry, lined, wrinkled skin. It works for your beauty all the time it is on your face—protects the fine texture of your skin, and brings out all its loveliness and beauty.”

Aquacade (1940) was also moisture-proofed.


By 1930, Rubinstein had a bewildering number of cosmetics – creams, lotions and oils – listed as possible foundations. All could be used as a base for face powder but some were primarily designed to be protective rather than just beautifying.

Valaze Cream of Lilies: “[A] pearly liquid cream … suitable for every age and type of skin—a lovely makeup base.” Shades: Ivory.
Water Lily Foundation: “[A]n exquisite semi-liquid cream.” Shades: Rachel.
Balm Rose: “[F]or the conservative woman and the sportswoman. soothes and protects the skin, prevents or corrects chapping, gives a natural finish.”
Snow Lotion: “[A] liquid powder foundation for all skins.” Shades: White, Rachel, Natural and Cream.
Sun and Windproof Cream: “A very protective foundation for sports women. Easy to apply. Quite imperceptible.”
Sunproof Lotion: “[A] most becoming liquid powder that gives great delicacy to the complexion, and yet protects it from exposure.” Shades: Cream, Natural and Rachel.
Youthifying (Beauty) Foundation Cream: “Prevents sunburn and freckles. Gives a loverly, smooth, youthful finish.”
Crème Gypsy/Gypsy Tan: “[G]ives a tan effect but protects the skin against freckles, sunburn and real tan. A very adherent foundation, suitable for blondes and brunettes.”
Huile Gypsy: “A smooth, fine, protective oil that gives the effect of a golden tan. Suitable for back and limbs. Most adherent.”

New foundations introduced during the 1930s included: Water Lily Snow Lotion (1934), which I assume was simply the original Snow Lotion with an added Water Lily fragrance; and Town and Country Make-up Film/Foundation (1935), sold in France as Crème Ville et Sport and said to be protective against sun and wind burn.

In 1939, Rubinstein released Photochrome Foundation, a creamy lotion designed to cover ‘blemishes, crows feet and other lines revealed by the camera’. Sold in numbered shades – e.g. Photochrome No. 1, Photochrome No. 2 – the product may have been produced in response to Elizabeth Arden’s Screen and Stage Make-up (1935). After its initial release it received little promotion and seems to have been discontinued during the Second World War. By this time Rubinstein had introduced Conceal (1942), a concealer in light and dark shades that could be used to covering up moles, freckles and other skin blemishes.

See also: Arden Screen and Stage Make-up

Lipsticks and rouge

In 1930, Rubinstein had three lipsticks in her range: Valaze, Cubist and Water Lily. In 1931, the company added an Automatic Lipstick for sports, which it updated in red, black and green cases in 1933.

1931 Rubinstein Automatic Lipstick

Above: 1931 Helena Rubinstein Automatic Lipstick.

The following year saw the release of a Water Lily version of the Automatic Lipstick, followed by: Golden Automatic (1935); Water Lily Grande lipsticks (1935) in satin-striped, gold-toned cases; and Town and Country lipsticks (1936). There was also Lipstick Plus (1939), a jumbo-sized lipstick which could be refilled, a process made easier by giving each refill its own metal base.

Rubinstein added a number of new lipstick shades through the decade, each matched with rouge. Starting with Red Geranium, Red Raspberry (Light, Medium or Dark), Red Ruby, Red Cardinal and Red Tangerine in 1930, new shades added up to 1940 included: Coral/Red Coral (1931), Red Poppy (1933), Evening (1934), Terra Cotta (1935), Terra Cotta-Light and Chinese Red/Mandarine (1936), Velvet Red (1937), Orchid Red and Aquarelle (1938), Sporting Pink (1939), and Life Red, Rico Red and Night Red (1940). Some shades were not available in all lipstick types; e.g., in 1930, Valaze Lipstick was produced in Red Geranium and Light, Medium or Dark Red Raspberry shades but Cubist Lipstick was only available in Red Geranium and Light or Medium Red Raspberry.

Rubinstein also added new case designs in a variety of colours so that women could match them with clothing or other accessories; e.g., Valaze Chatelain (Chain) Lipsticks (1931) and Costume Lipsticks (1937).

1932 Valaze Chatelain Chain Lipsticks

Above: Valaze Chatelain (Chain) Lipsticks with caps attached to the body of the lipstick case with a chain.

Lipsticks shades were only matched with rouge until Rubinstein began introducing coordinated make-up ranges in 1938. After this she generally colour coordinated her lipsticks with both nail polish and rouge.

Nail cosmetics

In 1930, Rubinstein’s nail polish, Nail Groom, only came in Shell Pink, Red Geranium and Red Raspberry shades. Coral was added in 1931 but there do not appear to have been any additions to the colour range until Rubinstein added Orchid Red and Aquarelle (1938), and Sporting Pink (1939), the first shades Rubinstein produced that were colour coordinated with lipstick and rouge.

Coordinating lipstick and nail polish shades was a trend started in Paris that later extended to the American market. Cutex had introduced a line of lipsticks to match its Crème Nail Polish in 1934 and Revlon would introduced lipsticks with matching nail polishes in 1939.

See also: Revlon

Eye cosmetics

Rubinstein had introduced eyeshadows into her make-up range back in 1925. In 1931, she added Iridescent Eye Shadow in Blue, Green, Blue-Green, and Violet-Gold shades, followed by Grey in 1932. Most of these were silver in tone suggesting that fish scales or bismuth oxychloride was used.

See also: Pearl Essence

In 1935, Rubinstein added a new ingredient to her Persian Mascara to encourage the growth of lashes, possibly lanolin. Shades: Black, Brown, Chatain, Blue, Green. Other eye make-up remained much the same through the decade and she continued to sell skin-care creams and lotions specifically for the area around the eyes.

1936 Rejuvenating Eye Treatment Pack

Above: 1936 Rubinstein Rejuvenating Eye Treatment Pack: Eyelash Grower, Herbal Cleansing Cream (Special), Anti-Wrinkle Lotion (Extrait), Eye Lotion, Herbal Eye Tissue Oil and Special Eye Cream.


In January, 1938, Rubinstein divorced Titus and was then free to marry Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia in Paris in June. Despite the fact that his title was suspect, Helena was happy to think of herself as a princess.

The newlyweds honeymooned in South America but Rubinstein combined business with romance during the trip. She bought South American art and checked out new markets for her products ultimately opening salons in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and San Paolo.

In 1941, she then put her new name and title to good use, releasing the Prince Gourielli line for men and the Princess Gourielli line for women. The products were kept separate from her other lines and sold out of an ‘Apothecary Shop’ created in a brownstone building at 16 East 55th Street, New York, and through the usual department and drug stores.

1941 Gourielli Apothecary Shop

Above: 1941 Gourielli Apothecary Shop fitted out in real and faux marble. In typical Rubinstein fashion she also decorated it with some of her art collection including American and Mexican primitives and a few Picassos.

Artchil knew very little about manufacturing cosmetics but dutifully posed for the obligatory ‘mixing products in a laboratory’ photographs that Rubinstein loved.

World’s Fair and waterproof mascara

According to legend it was at the 1939 New York World’s Fair which that Rubinstein introduced her Waterproof Mascara in Black, Brown, and Blue shades. The mascara was supposedly developed for the Aquabelles performing in the Aquacade.

1939 Billy Rose Aquacade

Above: 1939 The Aquacade at the New York World’s Fair. The show was first produced by Billy Rose (William Samuel Rosenberg [1899-1966]) at the Great Lakes Exposition in 1937.

This strikes me as very dubious. O’Higgins mentions Rubinstein visiting the ‘Mascara Countess’ in Vienna, whom, I assume, was Helene Vierthaler Winterstein [1900-1966] the inventor of the first waterproof mascara.

Our next few days in Vienna had a surrealistic quality due to the unexpected succession of events.
Madame flitted around the occupied city with the energy of a halloween witch. She held secret meetings with “The Mascara Countess,” visited shops stocking Rubinstein merchandise, and finally presided over a mammoth press conference.

(O’Higgins, 1971, p. 156)

It seems more likely that Rubinstein licensed the waterproof mascara from Winterstein and used the Aquacade as a publicity stunt to launch the product in the United States. The mascara was only one item in the Aquacade range (1940) which included: Aquacade Foundation Cream or Lotion and Aquacade Compressed Face Powder, both in Light and Dark shades; Aquacade Indelible Lipstick; and Aquacade Hair Lotion.

Wear it on land or sea as do the glamorous Aquabelles of the World's Fair Aquacade. Powder, mascara, lipstick—all of it stays on hour after hour in the water or out.

(Rubinstein advertisement, 1940)

Rubinstein later downplayed her waterproof claims for many of the products. The powder was dropped from advertisements and other products were described as water-resistant rather than waterproof.


By 1939, Helena Rubinstein’s global business was beginning to get back to normal. Her products were being sold through about 6000 outlets including ten American salons – New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Newport, Newark, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle – and seventeen salons around the world – London, Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, Vienna, Milan, Rome, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Honolulu, Melbourne, Sydney and Johannesburg – supplied from five factories – Long Island City (New York), London, St. Cloud (Paris), Milan and Melbourne. (AP&EOR, 1939).

Unfortunately, these improved business conditions were disrupted by the outbreak of war in Europe in September, 1939. Helena managed to get most of her relatives out of Europe – sister Stella was sent to Argentina, great-niece Regina went from Vienna to Australia and sister Ceska moved from London to New York – but her sister Regina perished in a concentration camp. The Rubinstein salons in Berlin, Vienna and Paris were lost but much of her property in Paris escaped confiscation as Helena had transferred ownership to her French lawyers (Woodhead, 2003, pp. 254-255), so technically it was not regarded as Jewish by the German occupying forces.

America did not enter the war until December, 1941. In 1942, Rubinstein, Inc. got a financial boost when it secured a contract to provided kits – which included camouflage and sunburn creams – for the American army (Woodhead, 2003, p. 274) to be used in ‘Operation Torch’, the invasion of North Africa in November, 1942.

Rubinstein released a number of new cosmetics after America entered the war including the stocking substitutes Leg Stick, Aquacade Leg Lotion and Gourielli Leg Tint (1942), and Minute Stocking Film (1944). To promote them she opened a Bare-Leg Bar in her Fifth Avenue salon.

See also: Cosmetic Stockings

Also, in 1942, Rubinstein released Town and Country Filmpact, a cake make-up that was a response to Max Factor’s highly successful Pan-Cake Make-up (1938). Like Pan-Cake it was applied with a sponge but unlike Pan-Cake it came in two forms, one for dry skin and one for oily.

Town and Country Filmpact: “[T]he only cake makeup blended in 2 textures . . . for the dry skin, and for the oily skin. You smooth on Filmpact with a moistened sponge. It’s so quick . . so long lasting . . stays fresh and flawless for hours without retouching.” Shades: Peachbloom, Mauresque, Rachel and Rico Suntan.

See also: Pan-Cake Make-up

In 1944, Rubinstein added Cream-Tint Foundation, a creamy cake make-up in Peachbloom, Rachel and Mauresque shades, a presage of a type of make-up that would become popular after the war.

Cream-Tint Foundation: “[T]he foundation that combines the lasting qualities of cake make-up with the protective softness of a cream base. A foundation that smooths your skin to a marvellously velvety texture—and imparts a glamorous all-over color to your complexion.”

see also: Cake Make-up

New lipstick shades added after 1940 included Red Apple (1941), Cochinelle (1942) and Plush Red (1944). In Britain, Australia, and other Commonwealth countries there was also the patriotic Regimental Red (1939) which, as far as I can tell the shade was not available in the United States.

Surprisingly, given the increased demand for hand creams during the war, Rubinstein did not update her hand-care cosmetics until 1945 when she introduced her Herbal Hand Cream and Herbal Hand Lotion.

See also: Hand Balms, Creams & Lotions

One other development that deserves a mention is the Five-Day Wonder Course Rubinstein introduced in 1942. The stimulus for the course may have come from the popularity of the Richard Hudnut’s Du Barry Success Course which began in 1940.

See also: Du Barry Success Course

Although not as comprehensive as the Du Barry Success Course, Rubinstein’s Five-Day Wonder Course covered the basics – diet, skin-care and make-up.

Also the see the 1949 company booklets: Wonder Course: Beauty Primer, Wonder Course: Make-Up Palette and Wonder Course: Diet Calendar

V-E Day

The German High Command surrendered in May, 1945 and Rubinstein booked passage to France as soon as she could, arriving in Paris in September before moving on to London by Christmas (Woodhead, 2003, p. 295). The salon and factory in Paris had been requisitioned by the Germans during the war but both were largely intact. The same cannot be said of London. The salon at 24 Grafton Street had been bombed and had been moved to temporary, cramped accomodation at 45 Berkeley Square. Rubinstein managed to lease a suitable building at 3 Grafton Street and began plans to convert it into a salon.

Elsewhere in Europe things were even worse. Starting over would not be easy. Rubinstein was now in her middle seventies, and the business conditions of the time included currency restrictions, high taxation and material shortages. She was also coming under increasing pressure from younger, more energised competitors, like Charles Revson [1906-1975] of Revlon.


1930New Products: Grecian Contour Mask; Water Lily Rejuvenating Mask; Water Lily Cleansing Lotion; Youthifying Tissue Cream; Youthifying Hand Cream; and Enchanté Lipstick.
1931Rubinstein regains control of the American business.
New Products: Hormone Twin Youthifiers; Pasteurized Bleaching Cream; Automatic Lipstick; Valaze Chain Lipsticks; and Iridescent Eye Shadow.
1932New Products: Herbal Mask.
1934Salon opened in Seattle; Derma-Lens introduced.
New Products: Herbal Cleansing Cream; Herbal Muscle Oil; Hormone Beauty Masque; Sunproof Cream; Enchanté Bath Essence; and Water Lily Automatic Lipstick.
1935New Products: Herbal Hand Balm; Herbal Eye Tissue Oil, Herbal Skin Tonic; Herbal Hair Remover; and Golden Automatic and Water Lily Grande Lipsticks.
1936New York salon moved to 715 Fifth Avenue.
New Products: Novena Night Cream; Town and Country Make-up Film; and Town and Country Lipsticks.
1937Paris salon refitted.
New Products: Beautilift Masque; Eastern Balsam Oil Treatment; and Costume Lipsticks and Vanities.
1938New Products: Town and Country Face Powder; Flower Petal Face Powders; and Infant cosmetic line.
1939Polaroid Skin Analyser introduced.
New Products: Foot and Ankle Masque; Photochrome; Lipstick Plus; Waterproof Mascara; and Pasteurized Milk Bath.
1940New Products: Classic Lipsticks with Vitamin E; Fingertip Masque; and Water Lily Deodorant Lotion and Cream.
1941Gourielli shop opened in New York.
New Products: Prince Gourielli and Princess Gourielli lines; and Young Complexion Kit.
1942Introduces the Five-Day Wonder Course; and opens a Bare-Leg Bar in the Fifth Avenue salon.
New Products: Leg Stick; Leg lotion; Town and Country Filmpact; Conceal; Gourielli Estrolar Cream; Gourielli Leg Tint; Gourielli Active Ozone Cream and Gourielli Shave Cream.
1944New Products: Minute Stocking Film; and Cream-Tint Foundation; and Gourielli Sulfo-Colloidal Cream.
1945New Products: Herbal Hand Cream (night) and Herbal Hand Lotion (day).

Updated: 16th January 2018


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Helena Rubinstein. (1930). Beauty in the making [Booklet]. USA: Author.

Helena Rubinstein. (c.1931). Beauty for you [Booklet]. USA: Author.

Helena Rubinstein. (1937). Beauty in the Making [Booklet]. UK: Author.

Helena Rubinstein. (c.1939). Beauty for you [Booklet]. Australia: Author.

Helena Rubinstein. (1947). A new and lovelier you [Booklet]. USA: Author.

O’Higgins, P. (1971). Madame: An intimate biography of Helena Rubinstein. New York: The Viking Press.

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Slesin, S. (2003). Over the top: Helena Rubinstein extraordinary style, beauty, art, fashion design. New York: Pointed Leaf Press.

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