In 1895, Jeannette Scalé opened a small beauty business in Chancery Lane, London using the name Mrs. Pomeroy, a surname taken from her mother’s side of the family who were relatives of General Seth Pomeroy, an American Revolutionary war hero. The following year, Mrs. Pomeroy Ltd. was founded.
Jeanette Scalé was born Jeannette Shepherd Hauser in 1862 in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her parents, Isaiah L. Hauser [1834-1909] and Jeanette Gallagher Shepherd [1840-1923], were Methodist Episcopal missionaries from Ohio who had settled in India in 1860.
In 1889, Jeanette married William Henry Jobbins [1836?-1893], the Superintendent of the Calcutta Government School of Art. When William fell ill he took sick leave and the couple left for England with their two children, Arthur and Amos in 1893. Unfortunately, William died before the steamer reached the Suez Canal so Jeanette arrived in London a widow with two young children.
In May 1895, Jeanette opened the business in Chancery Lane, offering ‘hygienic complexion treatments’, using money from her first husband’s life insurance settlement (Clarke, 2013, p. 889). In October 1895, she married a somewhat younger James Bernard Scalé [1867-1923], an upholsterer from Camberwell. In 1896, she moved her business to larger premises upstairs at 29 Old Bond Street and had the papers drawn up to create Mrs. Pomeroy Ltd.
As the Company Act of 1856 required a minimum of seven shareholders, other stockholders were needed to make up the required numbers so Jeanette held 1550 shares, James Scalé (her new husband) 100 shares, Jeanette Shepherd (her mother) 50 shares and the other subscribers were given 1 share each (Cutler, 1907, p. 186). The reason for the establishment of the limited liability company appears to have been the need to hire a chemist who would enable Jeanette to sell a skin cream that contained a poison.
She recollected signing the Memorandum of Association because, at the time, she had a particular preparation that she was unable to sell as it contained poison, and it was important to have the company formed as soon as possible so that she could employ a chemist and be able to sell the preparation.
Although the poison is not mentioned, I assume it to be a mercury compound – a common freckle remover of the time – and that it was included in the Pomeroy Complexion Purifier.
See also: Freckle Removers
Although Jeanette said that she had undergone a course of instruction at a hospital (Cutler, 1907, p. 186) – possibly in electrolysis – she had no formal training in Beauty Culture so her ideas on skin-care reflected common beliefs of the time. These she outlined in a little booklet ‘Beauty Rules’ which included missives advocating cleanliness, healthy nourishing food, exercise and positive thinking, again all popular pieces of beauty advice for the time.
As might be expected of a late nineteenth century ‘cosmetic specialist’, Pomeroy preparations promised to produce a clear, white, younger looking skin, free of wrinkles and other skin blemishes.
With a wonderful skill Mrs. Pomeroy seems first to clear the skin from all impurities, and then, by her remarkable system of facial massage and the subsequent application of certain hygienic preparations, she removes wrinkles and crowsfeet, freckles, and blemishes of various kinds, leaving the complexion, at the end of her course of treatment, as fresh and smooth as the skin of a baby.
Jeanette regarded wrinkles as a sign of ‘exhausted tissues’, a common view of the time, a condition which could be rectified through the application of a ‘nourishing’ skin food massaged into the face.
Wrinkles, those merciless foes to beauty, are due to the lack of nourishment in the tissues, caused by ill-health and approaching age, or extremely poor care of the skin. To prevent their appearance, or to remove them if already present, is not a difficult matter, providing they are not of extreme old age.
See also: Skin Foods
However, as skin foods were believed to be absorbed through the pores of the skin, these needed to be cleansed thoroughly to free them of any inhibiting obstructions. Clearing blocked pores also enabled the skin to release ‘poisons’, a ‘well-known’ cause of ‘muddied’ complexions and skin blemishes. However, unlike her contemporary Frances Forsythe (Cyclax), Jeanette did not advocate the use of soap and water on the face, preferring an Oatmeal scrub instead.
Soap should not be used on the face, as the alkali contained in soap destroys the delicate outer skin. Soap is necessary to cleanse the pores of the body, which are full of fatty matter, but no matter bow greasy the face may be, it is much better cleansed and kept smooth by abundance of hot water and the use of Pomeroy Oatmeal Powder than by soap.
See also: Cyclax
Jeanette was also a ‘steamer’ and sold a small, portable, copper apparatus she called Mrs. Pomeroy’s Russian Steam Bath, recommending that it be used to cleanse the pores, for ten minutes, not more, at least once a week, more often if the pores were clogged or the skin suffered from pimples or blackheads. The proscription against using the steamer for more than ten minutes was possibly because heat made the skin lax and so accentuated wrinkles.
Steaming was not endorsed by all beauty culturists of the time. Another contemporary of Jeanette’s, Eleanor Adair, was dead against it. Jeanette also differed from Adair in that, as far as I can tell, she did not use any form of strapping, preferring instead to use vigorous massage.
See also: Eleanor Adair
Once the pores had been cleansed, the skin food was applied and massaging commenced. The recommended massage movements were always upwards and across wrinkle lines, a practice that continues to this day. Kneading actions were concentrated on the cheeks to help plump them up – massage was believe to be able to build up tissue or reduce it depending on how it was applied.
See also: Massage, Wrinkles and Double Chins
Any excess skin food was then removed and an astringent applied. This ‘closed the pores’ and tightened the skin.
The use of Pomeroy Astringent Tonic Lotion prevents wrinkles, keeps the skin smooth, soft, and healthy, soothes all smarting and the roughness which follows exposure to the wind, and gives to the skin and complexion the velvety touch of a rose leaf.
See also: Skin Tonics, Astringents and Toners
Having spent a good deal of her life in sunny India, freckles received particular attention in Jeanette’s beauty regime. She held the common view that freckles came in two forms; ‘summer freckles’ that were easy to remove, and ‘winter freckles’ that were due to an excess of bile in the blood and more deep set. She was evasive about how she would treat winter freckles – although a change of diet to help the liver was probably part of the solution – but recommended that the summer type could be removed with a few applications of Pomeroy Complexion Purifier. If, as I suspect, it contained a mercury compound such as bichloride of mercury (corrosive sublimate), it would have produced the desired result.
See also: Mercolized Wax
The list of Mrs. Pomeroy preparations on sale before 1900 was small but covered all the normal requirements for a woman of the time. As well as the usual skin-care products, Jeanette also sold a face powder and rouge which enabled a woman to cover any blemishes or sallowness that was not immediately treatable. Liquid powder was also used as a safeguard against the ‘drying influence of the sun and air.’
Considering that these preparations had to survive long sea voyages and hot climates they were probably petroleum-based. This enabled the Pomeroy Skin Food, most likely a type of cold cream, to be advertised as “containing no glycerine, lanoline or animal fat” (Pomeroy advertorial, 1905).
Pomeroy Skin Food: “The most perfect emollient; feeds the skin, materially assists in eradicating wrinkles, removes all foreign matter from the pores, and restores the texture of the skin to its youthfulness. Prevents chapping and removes inflammation caused by wind and sunburn”.
Pomeroy Complexion Purifier: “removes Freckles, Sunburn, Tan, Pimples, Acne, Eczema, and all blemishes from the face, neck, and arms. It is absolutely pure and harmless, and thoroughly efficacious. Especially adapted for those who hunt, cycle, golf, or skate”.
Pomeroy Astringent Tonic Lotion: “suitable for those who have naturally good complexions, and only need to keep away wrinkles and prevent the skin from becoming flabby”.
Pomeroy Oatmeal Powder: “An excellent substitute for soap, and especially suited to greasy skins”.
Pomeroy Soap: “is the best and purest Soap made. Non-Alkaline; perfect for the hands and in the bath; suits the most delicate skin”.
Pomeroy Safâda: (originally called Liline) “An exquisite preparation for whitening and softening the hands; to be applied after washing. Prevents chapping and roughness. Delicately perfumed”.
Pomeroy Face Powder: “Absolutely pure, hygienic, sanative, impalpable; contains no lead, chalk, or bismuth; unsurpassed as a Toilet and Nursery Powder. Rose for fair complexions, and Rachel for brunettes”.
Pomeroy Liquid Powder: “is a great improvement on other powders. It adheres readily to the skin, and conceals veins, scars, and deep wrinkles. Imparts a youthful appearance, and is not only harmless, but absolutely beneficial”.
Pomeroy Liquid Rouge: “for lips, face, and finger nails. A perfect semblance of the natural colour, the loss of which is due to ill-health or anaemia”.
Many Pomeroy clients were in parts of the British Empire that were without the benefit of a Pomeroy salon. Jeanette provided these clients with a home treatment regime using products they could purchase via mail-order. Women could buy items individually or purchase a complete outfit that included the Russian Steam Bath. Given the time she had spent in India she must have been very familiar with the practice of purchasing ‘essentials’ from abroad. She published these routines as advertorials in various colonial newspapers and, by 1898, Pomeroy preparations were being advertised as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
The home treatment regime followed the practice I have already outlined. Looking at what was recommended from modern eyes, the Pomeroy Skin food – probably a type of cold cream – functioned as a cleanser and massage medium, while the Pomeroy Oatmeal Powder – which was applied after the Pomeroy Skin Food – worked as an exfoliating mask.
(I). The face should be steamed for ten minutes not more, after which it should be gently but firmly massaged with Pomeroy Skin Food, using, the tips of the fingers, and rubbing across the lines, to remove wrinkles, always with upward movements, as shown in the diagram.
(2). To the cheeks firm and plump, place the palms of the hands firmly on the cheeks and roll them, the movement always being upward, using the Skin Food, which feeds the skin and facilitates the deep rolling of the muscles. The face should be thoroughly massaged for five minutes, alternating the movements, as above described, after which take a piece of soft linen and wipe off the Skin Food that has not been absorbed by the pores.
(3). Now apply a paste, the consistency of thick cream, made of a teaspoonful of Pomeroy Oatmeal Powder mixed with water, and rub it thoroughly into the face, following the lines of the diagram with the same movements as before. The oatmeal paste should roll off in dry crumbs under neath the hands, making the face as clean and smooth as a baby’s.
(4). The pores are now thoroughly cleansed, and should be closed and toned up by the application of Pomeroy Astringent lotion and a slight dust of Pomeroy Face Powder, or Liquid Powder, maybe applied if preferred. This treatment should be carried out once a once a week, or twice if the pores are very clogged, or the complexion marred by acne or blackheads. …
(5). The daily treatment of the skin after it has been thoroughly cleansed and invigorated by the above method should be to wash it at night, laving it well with warm water, to which has been added a small quantity of Pomeroy Oatmeal Powder, for at least five minutes, massaging the face with the tips of the fingers, which should be constantly wetted in the water. The morning ablution should be with cold water, which acts as a tonic to the skin, in conjunction with the Astringent Tonic Lotion, which should be dabbed on the face and allowed to dry, after which may be applied Face Powder or Liquid Powder, if desired.
Like many other beauty culturists of the time, Jeanette provided her clients with treatments to permanently remove superficial hair and it is likely that electrolysis was the backbone of her early business.
Looking at the attachments on display, and given that the machine Jeanette used generated galvanic and faradic currents, it would appear that she used galvanic electricity for electrolysis and as a general ‘life stimulant’, to assist with problems like hair loss, and faradic currents to initiate muscle contractions, to tone up loose and flaccid skin and reduce wrinkles.
By 1905, Jeanette had personally opened Mrs. Pomeroy salons in Glasgow, Dublin, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cape Town and Johannesburg and was also selling products in other parts of the British Empire.
All Mrs. Pomeroy’s toilet articles are made on her own premises, so that she can guarantee their composition and purity, and they are now sold by all chemists throughout the world, and by her special agents in India—Kemp and Co., Bombay; Smith, Stanistreet, and Co., Calcutta; Fitch and Co., Mussoorie; J. Bliss, Karachi. Australia—Faulding and Co., Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide; Elliott Bros., and J. Weiner and Co., Sydney; Felton, Grimwade, and Co., Melbourne. Paris—Monville-Lavaill, 11, Rue Daunou. Italy—F. Mantovani, Milan and Naples; and from her own establishment at 10, Duncan’s Building Capetown, or from all branches of Messrs, Lennon, Ltd., chemists throughout South Africa.
The business had a turnover of up to £21,000 per year and she had as many as eighty people in her employ (Cutler, 1907, p. 186); however, this did not stop the company from becoming ‘embarrassed’ towards the end of 1905. Given the amount of advertising she did, her travelling expenses, staffing costs, and the quality of the salon fittings and fixtures, one can see how a cash flow problem might occur. The result was that the company went into voluntary liquidation and was sold to E. H. Girling in 1906.
Jeanette was asked if she would like to continue to manage the business with a base salary of £1200 a year, along with a share of the profits. She declined and elected instead to open a new salon as Jeanette Pomeroy down the road, first at 33, then at 35 Old Bond Street, offering treatments using Mrs. Pomeroy products she acquired from chemists. She also had the family’s surname changed by deed poll to Pomeroy after separating from James Scalé earlier in the year.
She had a list of the customers made from the index cards, and took it away. She then executed a Deed to change her name to Pomeroy and also a Deed of separation from Mr Scaleé. … She put up a brass plate with the name “Jeanette Pomeroy” in an imitation of her handwriting. At 33 Old Bond Street, she sold the Company’s preparations, which she bought from chemists who had obtained them from the Company.
As might have been expected, she was taken to court over her use of the name Pomeroy. She lost the trade-mark case and was force to close her new business in short order. This ended Jeanette’s connection with Beauty Culture and in 1908 she left for America with her two sons. In 1915, she moved with her younger son Amos (Roy) Pomeroy [1892-1947] to Indianapolis and then again with him when he moved to New York where he worked as a portrait painter and scenic artist. In 1922, Roy moved to California with his future wife, Sylvia Jewel, where he played a significant part in the development the Hollywood motion picture industry. Jeanette did not go with them. In 1921, she had been admitted to the Wards Island Mental Hospital, New York, and was then deported from the United States back to Britain in 1922. She spent most of the remaining years of her years in British mental institutions, dying in 1938.
The new owner, E. H. Girling, admitted to knowing nothing about Beauty Culture and I imagine he relied heavily on the existing staff to familiarise himself with the company operations. Unfortunately, I know little of what the firm was up to in the 1910s and 1920s. The salon in Johannesburg had been closed down before 1906 but I do not know what happened to the one in South Africa. However, the company continued to sell its products throughout the British Empire and elsewhere, while at home, agencies were established in Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Sheffield and Cork, and a new London salon was opened at 185 High Street, Kensington after the First World War ended. Salon treatments – which included facials, electrolysis and chiropody – continued to be conducted in specialist rooms at 29 Old Bond Street throughout the period.
The new owner also introduced a badly needed Pomeroy Day Cream into the product range sometime before the First World War. It was a type of vanishing cream, featured prominently in Pomeroy advertising from then on, and gave the company a much needed base for powder and other make-up that was becoming more widely used during the 1920s.
Other new products were added and by the middle of the 1930s the company had an extended skin-care and make-up range repackaged in modern looking bottles using a logo the company had first developed in 1922 designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer [1890-1954].
By the 1930s, the Pomeroy skin-care treatment had undergone a considerable amount of change due to the inclusion of new lines. Pomeroy Beauty Milk was now used as the primary cleanser, displacing the Pomeroy Skin Food and Pomeroy Toilet Oatmeal, the later only recommended for oily skin. Pomeroy Skin Food had become primarily a night cream, although the company hedged its bets by suggesting that it could be applied before a bath or any time during the day, if desired. Pomeroy Day Cream, like other vanishing creams, was used under make-up during the day and as a skin protectant, maintaining the position it had established from before the First World War.
As well as more clearly demarcating day and night treatments, the Pomeroy product line now made more allowances for dry and sensitive skin. There was Pomeroy Eau des Fleurs skin tonic for sensitive skin, to complement the older and stronger Astringent Lotion; Pomeroy Dathos Cream, a super-fatted cream used in place of Pomeroy Skin Food if the skin was dry; and Pomeroy Cleansing Cream (possibly a liquefying cleansing cream) for cleansing oily skin.
The preliminary step in beauty culture is the establishment of perfect skin hygiene.
This is accomplished by cleansing the face and neck thoroughly with Pomeroy Beauty Milk, a soothing penetrating emulsion.
After cleansing, the skin is covered liberally with Pomeroy Skin Food, which is carefully massaged into the tissues …
If the skin is exceptionally dry, Pomeroy Dathos, a super-fatted skin nutrient is used in place of the Skin Food. At night, before retiring, is the best time for this part of the treatment. In the morning, after bathing the face freely with cold or tepid water, the skin is again cleansed with Pomeroy Beauty Milk or, if included to be greasy, with a little Pomeroy Toilet Oatmeal made into a paste with water. The face and neck are then sprayed with Pomeroy astringent lotion.
If the skin is very sensitive, Pomeroy Eau des Fleurs, a milder skin tonic, is recommended in preference to the Astringent. Both these lotions should be allowed to dry on the skin naturally.
Now a covering of Pomeroy Day Cream is gently applied with the tips of the fingers. This affords perfect day-time protection.
One unusual aspect of the Pomeroy skin regime is it being partly based on a woman’s colouring. For example, it was suggested that a woman with naturally black hair should use Pomeroy Cleansing Cream as a night cream, presumably because her skin was oily, whereas a woman with white hair, which suggests she was older, was recommended to use Pomeroy Skin Food. The Day Cream, which only came in two colours, was selected primarily by skin colour, with pink for dark skins and white for skins that were fair.
Also see the company booklet: Pomeroy Beauty for All
Massage was still considered an essential part of any beauty treatment and like many other companies instructions were given on how to do this at home. After cleansing the face with either Beauty Milk or Cleansing Cream, facial massage movements were conducted using Pomeroy Skin Food or Pomeroy Dathos Cream, with Muscle Oil being applied in areas that were particularly wrinkled.
Specialist skin treatments were few but included the Pomeroy Complexion Purifier, which was still being applied to reduce freckles and discolourations of the skin; a Blackhead Treatment, consisting of a cream and lotion; an Eyelash Lotion, a ‘soothing, cleansing, safe lotion for tired or aching eyes’; and Pomeroy Muscle Oil which was used on ‘thin necks and very wrinkled necks and eyes’. However, should a woman throw caution to the wind, dispense with her Pomeroy Liquid Powder, and expose her skin to the elements, sun products were available including: Sunburn Cream, to prevent blistering or skin peeling; and Sun Tan Oil, to provide an even tan.
By the 1930s, Pomeroy had a small but serviceable make-up range which included face powders, lipstick, rouge, mascara, eyebrow pencil and eyeshadow.
Pomeroy Face Powder was made in loose, compressed and liquid forms. The loose and compressed powders came in Blonde, Brunette, Green, Mauresque, Mauve, Natural, Peach, Rachel, Dark Rachel, Sports, Sun Tan and White shades, while the liquid powder – which was to be used to even skin tones when venturing out at night or as a protection against sunburn during the day – only came in shades of Blonde, Natural, Rachel, Dark Rachel, Sun Tan, and White.
Pomeroy Luxury Lipstick came in Carmine, Cherry, Colourless, Coral, Geranium, Natural and Tangerine shades which could be matched with either Rouge Powder in Blonde and Brunette shades; Compressed Rouge, in Blonde, Brunette and Tangerine shades; Cremor Rouge, a complexion tinting cream in Carmine, Cherry, Coral, Geranium and Tangerine shades; or Liquid Rouge in Carmine, Coral and Peach shades. Pomeroy rather strangely recommended that Cremor Rouge be applied to the upper part of the cheeks, the lobes of the ears and the point of the chin taking care that it not be too obvious.
Eye make-up included Mascara in Black, Brown, Chatain (light-brown) shades; Eye Shadow which came in Blue (for blue-gray eyes), Green and Brown (for green, brown and hazel eyes) shades in cream and compressed powder forms; and an eyebrow pencil in Black, Blue, Brown, Chatain and Green shades. Pomeroy also made an Eyelash Cream to keep the eyelashes ‘supple and well nourished’.
Along with other items in the Pomeroy range – which included soap, bath products, cleansing tissues and toothpaste – the Pomeroy hand and nail products are worth noting. These consisted of the well-known Safâda Hand Lotion; a Cleansing Fluid, for removing stains from hands and nails; a Cuticle Cream; a Nail Polishing Cream; Nail Varnish in Carmine, Cherry, Colourless, Coral, Geranium and Tangerine shades; and Nail Varnish Remover.
The years following the war were associated with some major changes at Pomeroy. In 1940, the business was sold to F. W. Hampshire & Co. Ltd. of Derby, England, who were manufacturing chemists most noted for their Zube lozenges and Snowfire cosmetics. They repackaged the line and, after moving to 174 New Bond Street, remodelled the London salon in 1948.
There appears to have been little change in the Pomeroy skin-care lines or treatments but new make-up products were introduced. Although the colour range of these was still restricted, the company did make some attempt to move with the times and respond to the changes in fashion brought about by the introduction of Dior’s New Look in 1947.
As well as Pomeroy Face Powder, which still came in only five shades – Peach, English Rose, Medium Rachel, Rose Rachel and Sports – there were now five powder foundations available. Pomeroy Liquid Foundation for oily and normal skins, made in the same shades as Pomeroy Face Powder; Pomeroy Day Cream, a white vanishing cream; Pomeroy Make-up Base, a heavy flesh-tone cream for dry skins; Pomeroy Make-up Cake in the same shades as Pomeroy Face Powder; and Pomeroy Foundation Cream, a peach-tinted cream, suitable for dry skins but giving a softer and lighter make-up than the Pomeroy Make-up Base.
Colouring for lips and cheeks was made in cream rouge and matching lipsticks in eight shades: Almond Blossom, Pomeroy Pink, Coral, Russet, Fantasy, Red Cap, Tudor Rose and Cherry. For those who preferred it, Pomeroy Liquid Rouge was still produced but only in Carmine and Geranium shades. The lipsticks are the first products that deviate from using standard colour names like carmine, tangerine and geranium. Compared with make-up ranges from American brands of the time – like Revlon, Elizabeth Arden and Max Factor – it could perhaps only be described as ‘serviceable’.
Despite the attempted rejuvenation of the line in the late 1940s, the company did not survive for much longer. The new owners, F. W. Hampshire underwent an expansion program in 1948 which included the addition of a men’s line to their Snowfire range and additional manufacturing space at their plant in Sunnydale, Derby. In 1948, they also entered into an agreement with Reckitt & Colman Ltd. (later Reckitt Benckiser), whereby certain F. W. Hampshire products would be handled by Reckitt & Colman overseas. Obviously, things did not all go to plan. The brand is currently owned by Richards & Appleby Ltd, the owners of Cyclax, and it is not known if it is to be revived.
|1895||Mrs. Pomeroy complexion specialist opens in Chancery Lane, London.|
|1896||Moves to bigger premises at 29 Old Bond Street , London.|
Mrs. Pomeroy Ltd. established.
|1906||Mrs. Pomeroy Ltd. goes into voluntary liquidation.|
Assets sold to E. H. Girling who establishes a new Mrs. Pomeroy Ltd.
|1919||A second London salon established at 185 High Street, Kensington.|
|1936||Mrs. Pomeroy (Ireland) Ltd. registered.|
|nd||Business moves to 27 Old Bond Street|
|1940||Mrs. Pomeroy Beauty preparations acquired by F. W. Hampshire & Co. Ltd.|
|1941||Business now listed as Jeanette Pomeroy Ltd.|
|1943||New premises established at 174 Bond Street.|
|1946||Pomeroy line repackaged.|
|1948||Salon at 174 New Bond Street remodelled.|
Updated: 10 August 2015
Browning, E. H. (1898). Beauty Culture. London: Hutchinson & Co.
Clarke, J. P. (2013). Pomeroy v. Pomeroy: Beauty, modernity, and the female entrepreneur in fin-de-siècle London. Women’s History Review, 22(6), 877-903.
Cutler, J. (Ed.). (1907). Reports of the patent, design, trade mark and other cases, Vol. XXIV. London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office.
Howarth, M. (1901). What women will do for looks. The Harmsworth London Magazine. 7, 259-264.