It’s Academy Awards weekend and, in honour of that, I decided to do a little old school beauty practice.

There have always been beauty secrets and regimes to keep us looking youthful.  My mother never used soap on her face because she said it was too drying and took the essential oils out of her skin.  She used Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser.  At night she would smear it all over her face and then wipe it off with a wash cloth.  I remember her looking shiny, sitting on the couch, watching Ed Sullivan. She used it in the morning as well before applying her makeup.  She didn’t use face makeup at all, only eye shadow, mascara and lipstick. She also penciled her eyebrows a little to make them a bit darker.  

Joan Crawford was the original diva in terms of a strict beauty routine. 

She also used the Ponds Cold Cream method but she was mostly famous for her ice water splashes.

I have decided for the purposes of this blog to try out her beauty methods for 5 days and see what happens.  Hopefully I do not end up removing my protective epidermal layer exposing  a pulsing, vein throbbing, mass that used to be my face.  It could happen if I’m too heavy handed on the exfoliation with a rough washcloth and a numbed frozen face. 

I could also end up resurrecting my connect-the-dot pimple phase from high school which will leave me house bound.  At least it is winter and looking outside into the desolate tundra of my farm I think there is no better time for this experiment. 

Day 1

I awoke and filled a large bowl with freezing water and then added ice cubes.  I let that sit for a couple of minutes just to make sure it had achieved its ultimate torture temperature.  I then splashed my face with this water 25 times, which is supposedly what Joan Crawford did every time she washed!  At the end of my 25 splashes there was water all over my bathroom mirror, counter and floor.  The worst part is the fact that I had no feeling in my hands, and a slight brain freeze, like the kind you get when you drink a slushy too fast.

I then applied a vat of Elizabeth Arden’s Perpetual Moisture 24 Cream all over the block of ice that was now my face.  I was surprised when it absorbed into my skin.   My skin did feel more alive and not just sitting there on my face asleep… like it usually does… so there is that.

After suffering through today with the splashes and creams I’m ready for tomorrow.  Oddly, my skin feels kind of dry and tight.  It’s not what I expected.  I’ve got my sleep mask to put on over, yet another eye cream, and I’ll awake tomorrow with another ice splash.  I think she must have been a Sadist.

Day 2

Beauty is no fun. I have repeated the routine from day 1. I’m wondering if I will get used to this by the end of the week and look forward to it.  If this ends up becoming part of my daily routine I will eat my…. dinner.  I’m not good at punishing myself.  I haven’t really noticed any difference in my skin. 

DAY 3

I have to admit I am sort of enjoying the splash today.  I like the feeling afterwards.  It’s still really horrible on my hands, to submerge them in arctic water, but it is a great way to wake up.

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow because I’m going to do Joan’s hair wash.  She also liked to finish off her showers with freezing water.  I don’t mind the arctic dip at the Body Blitz Spa because afterwards you can drop into the hot tub, and it feels really great, but I don’t have a hot tub and my shower is on a different floor than my bath and this is getting too complicated.  It’s also winter, so the last thing I want to do is douse myself with freezing water.  Maybe I should do the snow roll instead?  No… a better idea is to pass on this step altogether.  My skin is feeling pretty soft today.

DAY 4

Joan liked to rinse her hair with 6 raw eggs, adding some red wine or rum to dilute the eggs a bit.  Seems like a waste but I’ll try it.  I’ll use the cooking wine.  Actually, I’m sober right now, so I will use whatever is collecting dust in the liquor cabinet.. not the Bailey’s though because that would be a sticky mess, and I’d be too tempted to make French Toast.  I’m only going to use 2 eggs since I don’t have thick hair like she did.  I’m a bit nervous about this one because my hair is currently coloured and needs a lot of moisture.  Perhaps it will be nourished with the mayonnaise mask.  Ewwwwww!  The smell is so horrible.  I swear if I apply this mask and start craving egg salad I will barf.  My hair is fine and so this could be a big mistake.  I think that the oily texture of the mayo will give me a grease cap and probably won’t rinse out.  I’ll try it at least once.  I have some organic real mayonnaise without preservatives so it is probably exactly what Joan would have used.  I’m not sure what order she did this so I’ve chosen to do the mayo mask first… then I’ll wash that out with shampoo and then I’ll apply the egg wash.  I feel like I’m making Spanakopita minus the spinach and phyllo.

 I was right about the mayo mask smell and I’m forced to put a freezer bag over my head to keep from gagging. I will not post a picture of this because, like Medusa, you will all turn to stone upon the sight of me. Next up, I jumped into the shower and tried to get the goop out of my hair.  I did a shampoo twice and then added the slimy cold egg wash.  I allowed that to sit for a good five minutes and then rinsed that out.  It was horrible.  My hair actually still felt dry even when I was submerged under water!  How does that happen?  I tried to get a comb through it but it was tangled from the egg rinse so I had to use some conditioner.  I guess that is cheating but I had no choice. My hair was a “rats nest” as my mother used to say. The conditioner worked, thankfully, and I combed it out. I used “Lottabody Setting Lotion” because my next move was to pin curl my hair into one of Joan’s curly styles when she wore her hair down.  In later years she would always have an up-do but I’m going for the more difficult style.  If it bombs then I’ll use a turban.  I have this crazy attachment for my blow dryer that is a big cap to recreate an old school hair dryer.

Finally ,after several clumsy attempts, I am all pinned up for the reveal tomorrow and sitting under my portable dryer; cooking my head. 

DAY 5

It’s Academy Awards night and I’ve got some work to do.

Joan had a very distinct makeup application.  She was all about the brows and the lips… and boric acid.  Seriously.  She put boric acid, mixed with water, into her eyes to keep them white and bright.  Maybe that was to also keep the hangover eyeball in check… who knows… but I will not be attempting that.  I’ve only got one good eye. 

First I need to comb out my pin curls and I’m having a flashback to when my mother gave me a “Toni Home Permanent” and the rollers were too tight.  I ended up looking like a dandelion before the wind catches it and it becomes bald. 

I’ve combed it out and the result is not horrible but I wouldn’t leave the house like this.

I’ve also applied the exaggerated makeup and, if I’m honest, it’s really scary.   I’m not a professional makeup artist so I have done my best to get the essence of Miss Crawford.  My lips look a little more “Joker” than Joan.

It would have been hard to be Joan… so obsessed with her appearance.  I can’t imagine the difficulty she must have had with aging. 


So how did my 5 days pan out?

I will say that there is a possibility I’ll use the Pond’s for a little while longer, partly because it’s not expensive, and partly because it’s been around since the 1950’s, and it doesn’t seem to be causing any breakouts.  It also doesn’t seem to be drying my skin like I originally thought. I like the calming effect it gives my skin after I remove my makeup. It is a tad greasy at first but it dissipates.

I also hate to admit that I may continue…at least for a little while.. with the dreaded ice splash because it wakes me up and my skin looks vibrant after.

As far as the hair routine, I will never EVER try that concoction again.

We have great products nowadays that will give you the shiny hair that Joan was so desperate to achieve.  I’m picky when it comes to my conditioner and shampoo. I usually have Frederic Fekkai on hand. I’ve tried most of his products and they work for my hair type. Recently my hair salon sold me some Goldwell conditioner that is specifically meant for coloured hair. I have only used it a couple of times but I like the light texture and the results. So, Joan’s home made recipes for the hair should stay in the kitchen where they belong.

Joan Crawford was a movie star and she knew it. She lived each day like she was on the cover of Photoplay Magazine. I doubt that she ever left the house without full hair and makeup. I can’t imagine her running to the grocery store in tights, a sweatshirt and a toque on her head which is one of my routines. She had access to hair and makeup experts but I really think she did a lot of her own maintenance. She worked hard at being beautiful and who knows how much of it was just her great genetics and how much was due to her diligence in using freezing cold water and slathering creams on her face and neck for hours at a time. I give her credit for her absolute commitment but I just can’t spend that much time torturing myself.

Besides, there is one thing that we have and Joan did not ….  Botox!

Happy Academy Awards night!

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