Revlon, 1952: The First Ad to Recognize Makeup as Empowering


Prior to the 1960’s, a quick touch up of your lipstick made everyone around you assume a man had caught your eye and you wanted to look more enticing for him. Typical ads displayed lines like, “Stays on you...not on him,” or “That ‘natural’ look men look for.” It was a time where makeup was merely a tool to get a man—not the outlet for self-expression, creativity, or play that it has evolved into today. The first step towards the empowered view of makeup many have today was Revlon’s Fire & Ice ad in 1952. The ad featured a questionnaire that determined if you were naughty or nice; fire or ice. The questions were all centered on how there’s a bit of “fire” in every woman, and made her feel sexy and dangerous. With no man or romance alluded to, the ad was revolutionary in its suggestion that a woman might apply lipstick for her own pleasure and gratification.

For Further Reading

Want to check out other monumental ad campaigns centered around female empowerment? Check out 7 more here!

Discussion Question

Do you wear makeup on a consistent basis? Why or why not? Is your decision based on how makeup makes you feel, or due to the pressure of societal standards of beauty?

Action Item:

Next time you see someone bare-faced, make an effort to tell them how fresh and good they look! Feeling confident in your own skin is hard— that small comment could mean the world to them.

Read more on Bustle/ Image: Revlon