Day of Beauty: A Whole Day at Helena Rubinstein’s Salon in New York, 1937

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In 1936, Helena Rubinstein opened a new salon in a seven-storey building at 715 Fifth Avenue, New York. Described as ‘a new world of beauty’ the salon was designed to provide clients with all their beauty needs.

“Here is a world where you may find blessed release from the whirring world without, and complete realization of your beauty within. Here Helena Rubinstein offers you the fruits of her rich and almost legendary experience in bringing beauty to the women of every land. Here she has gathered the myriad talents and services of artists, scientists, technicians. Specialists in Skin Culture, Coiffure Stylists, Cosmetic Colorists, Dieticians and Physiotherapists.
Here is everything to contribute to the full and perfect expression of your loveliness—your complexion, your figure, your hair, your hands, your whole personality. Here is an inspired new conception of your beauty.”
(Rubinstein advertisement, 1937)
Along with the usual reception areas, purchasing counters and treatment cubicles the air-conditioned building was equipped with a gymnasium, movie theatre, restaurant, library, solarium and hairdressing salon.
Women coming to Rubinstein’s Fifth Avenue salon could book in for individual treatments or, for US$25.00 or more, sign up for a complete ‘Day of Beauty’. The full day of treatments would start with an assessment. The client’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) was calculated and her blood pressure, height, weight and other vital statistics were also taken down for future reference.
Dressed in a playsuit provided by the salon, the client could then engage in a series of exercises in the gymnasium equipped with a sprung floor, bars, gym mat, fitness bicycles, rowing machines and other sports equipment. If physical exercise was ruled out then she could take deportment or other classes.
By the end of the day the client had spent up to US$150 or more through elective treatments but most felt it was worth it. The success of the concept can be measured by the fact that when Rubinstein opened her revamped Faubourg Saint-Honoré salon in Paris in 1937 it was also fitted with San-O-Therm beds, BMR testing machines and the other equipment she had installed in New York.
The prelude to being made beautiful – first, realize your deficiencies. You put your head under this hood, press a switch held in the hand, and, in this device, your defects are magnified. An expert examines your skin at the same time.

Compressed air is forced into a milk preparation providing bubbles. The mask is a special device for restoring youthful contours.

Anything wrong with coiffure or scalp is treated. Under the steamer, you go to get balsam oil forced into the scalp and hair. It helps make a permanent wave soft and brilliant.

When a client presents herself at the Helena Rubinstein Salon for the Day of Beauty course, the first step is a polaroid skin analysis. Miss Mala Rubinstein (right) is studying a client’s face here. Type of treatment suggested will be based on her findings.

Before the re-sculpturing process starts, the client is weighted and measured to determine strategic points of attack in the body beautifying campaign.

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