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Product Junkies: Lessons That Can Be Learned From Old Hollywood

Dorothy Dandridge

I suffer from “product addiction.” If you can relate, you can understand being overwhelmed by cluttered drawers, cabinets, counters and compartments full of nothing but products — makeup products, hair products, endless bottles of nail polish and skin care “essentials.” I often ask myself, “Do I really need all of these things, or do I just enjoy having options?”

Yes, makeup and all sorts of lotions and potions are fun! Many women have been wearing them since they were little girls rummaging through their mothers’ makeup drawers playing dress-up.

When I think about black Hollywood starlets from the past, like Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Pam Grier, they seemed naturally beautiful and didn’t appear overbearing with faces caked with makeup or hair molded with various products. We still see and remember them for their natural beauty. So, why has it become more difficult to embrace our own without the help of so many “enhancements?”

Lena Horne

In a passage from Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy, Dandridge said:

“A screenwriter once grabbed hold of me by the waist, looked closely at my color, and this is what he said I looked like, even after all those trials: ‘Your skin is neuter. It is all the skin colorings of the world. It is chameleon, it changes in each swatch of light, ranging white to dark by the instant […]

Your hair is black, soft, universal. Your eyes are black and white flames; your nose is pert; the color in your cheeks, crimson, is your own and it sets off the tan. Your lips are blood-filled and esthetically-shaped. You have three small moles, like beauty marks, one just below your right eye, a second below that near the lips, and a third on the chin at the right. These three moles set off the rest of your face.’ ”

Dandridge admitted in the book that she used limited cosmetics; simply an exfoliating facial scrub to keep her skin smooth, her cheeks red and the skin tone vibrant.

Pam Grier

Considering these women were Hollywood stars, I’m sure they were not walking around bare-faced at all time. But what has happened to simplicity? We’ve become reliant on so many products to “make us beautiful,” when usually less is more. Embracing our natural features with a little bit of mascara, blush, lipstick and confidence can take us a long way. These women have already proved that.

mckenzie harris