Story of Us, 1910-1920: Top Shelfie

Stocking the perfect medicine cabinet began with the boom of personal toiletries in this decade.

These days, it’s all about showing off the goods taking up real estate in your medicine cabinet. As the latest Instagram craze, #shelfies have become a virtual show-and-tell of the latest personal care items to enter one’s beauty rotation. Between 1910 and 1920, personal toiletries from liquid shampoos to massage creams to nail polish flooded the market, and consequently made their way into the public’s vanities. Cutex advertised in the pages of American Salon back then, claiming that “professional manicurists use Cutex for two reasons. First because it lightens their work and increases their earning power. And second, because it pleases their patrons and adds prestige and class to their shops.” Meanwhile, holding a medical degree or at least claiming to be a doctor lent an air of credibility to many of the lotions and potions being hawked to cosmetologists in those early years. Nevertheless, with advertising driving demand, the national market for personal care items boomed. Take a look at some of the most popular items advertised in American Salon during the era.

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