The Plain Facial–Everyday Grooming, Helen Livingstone and Ann Maroni, 1951

This one is a long read, but for the sake of experimentation, I might give this step-by-step instruction set a try. (Minus the bleach pack mentioned at the end. That doesn’t sound like it would be good for my fragilish, almost 40 year-old epidermis.) Happy pampering!

The Plain Facial

The saying that “Beauty comes from within,’ is indeed true. Your diet, the proper amount of rest, exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are all reflected through the skin, Fig. 61. No amount of facial work, make-up, or any other camouflage can hide a poor and unhealthy skin.

The plain facial has many benefits. It cleanses, softens, and freshens the skin. It stimulates the circulation and muscles. A facial at the end of a trying day has soothing and freshening effects beneficial to everyone, young and old, Fig. 62.

Select a comfortable, quiet, and convenient spot for the facial, and go about it in an efficient and cool manner. If you can acquire a firm touch together with a scientific knowledge of massage procedure, your visits to the beautician can be supplemented effectively.


Cleansing cream is used to dissolve perspiration, dirt, and skin oils so that they may be removed more easily. Cleansing creams are usually made of mineral oil, wax or petroleum jelly, and a desired perfume.

Healthy Skin

Tissue or nourishing cream, sometimes called skin food, lubricates the skin and keeps it soft. Some authorities believe that the skin absorbs creams and thus receives nourishment, other specialists do not hold this to be so. Tissue cream is heavier than
cleansing cream. It is made of such products as spermaceti, white wax, cocoanut oil, lanolin, almond oil, tincture of benzoin, and perfume.

Muscle oil or skin oil serves the same purpose as skin food. It is made from fine vegetable and animal oils. An astringent or “skin freshener” is used after a facial
massage to contract the skin and muscles and to remove any grease that may be present. Witch hazel, alcohol, glycerine, boric acid, alum, and lactic acid in various proportions and combinations are a few of the ingredients found in astringents.

Face powders are made in light, medium, and heavy weights. The light powder is most appropriate for a very dry skin, the medium for a normal skin, and the heavy for an oily skin. The fineness or coarseness of a powder depends upon the refining processes during its manufacture. Most powders contain talc, zinc oxide, magnesium carbonate, almond oil, perfume essence, and coloring.


To some degree, hot towels relax the pores and cold towels contract them. It is well to remember that the pores of the skin are never completely closed.

If not used to excess, hot towels are very relaxing and soothing. They have a tendency to draw the blood to the surface of the skin. Cold towels and ice packs tone the skin and stimulate the muscles and the circulation of the blood. This procedure is an inexpensive way to tone the skin, which is one of the desired results of a facial.


Few operators use identical manipulations, but all follow the same general principle. With the exception of neck manipulations, all movements are upward, never downward, in an attempt to lift the muscles rather than pull them down. Whenever towels are used or cream is applied or removed, the direction of the movement is always upward.

There are five principal movements from which all facial manipulations are derived.

1. Effeurage — a stroking movement.
2. Friction — a deep rubbing movement with pressure.
3. Pitressage — a kneading movement.
4. Tapatement — a slapping, tapping or cupping movement.
5. Vibration — a trembling movement.


1. Select a comfortable chair, preferably one that reclines slightly. Place within easy reach the items necessary for a plain facial: two plain pins, a jar of cleansing cream, a jar
of tissue cream, a bottle of muscle oil, a bottle of astringent, a bottle of boric acid, four facial tissues, sterile cotton pads, one head-band, three huck towels, and two turkish towels if hot and cold towels are to be used.

2. If you can relax comfortably with your feet on a foot stool, by all means use one. Raising the feet draws the blood away from them and enables you to relax more quickly.

3. Remove or loosen any tight clothing. Remove all ear and neck jewelry.

4. Place the head-band firmly around your head at the hair- line. Pin it securely in two places. Imbed the points of the plain pins in the head-band to avoid scratches. Leave your ears exposed and tuck stray strands of hair under the headband with a spatula or the handle of a spoon, Fig. 63.

5. Place one huck towel lengthwise across the chest. Lightly tuck the right corner of the towel under the right edge of your garments. Bring the far left corner of the towel up
and tuck it under the left edge. A properly adjusted towel is twisted in the center, Fig. 63.

6. Adjust the second huck towel over the back of the chair.

7. Dim the lights if possible, as an aid to complete relaxation.


1. Remove a small amount of cleansing cream from the jar and put it on the palm of one hand. Remember to keep the cream jars covered when they are not in use.

2. Remove all lumps from the cream by patting it with the second and third fingers of the other hand.

Except when performing the piano movement and the stroking and cupping movements, the cushion parts of the second and third fingers of both hands are used in the plain
facial. These fingers are called the facial fingers.

3. Apply small portions of the cleansing cream to your forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, and neck.

4. Transfer the balance of the cleansing cream to the facial fingers.

5. Beginning at the forehead, use an upward and outward movement to spread the cream over the face, up and over the forehead, over the eyebrows and eyelids, down the nose and over the cheeks, over the lips and chin, and over the under chin. The right hand should take care of the right side of the face and the left hand the left side, Fig. 64.

6. Stroke the neck downward, using all of the fingers (piano movement). Begin in the center of the throat and work toward the ears.



1. Remove the cream from your hands with a facial tissue.

2. Pick up a second tissue and hold it as in Fig. 65.

3. Beginning at the forehead, follow the contour of the face in removing the cleansing cream. Use the same upward and outward movement, Fig. 65. Remove the cream from the right side of the face and neck, then change the tissue to the left hand and remove the cleansing cream from the left side. You may need more than one tissue to remove all of
the cream.

4. Before proceeding from one section of the face to another, be sure that all of the cleansing cream has been removed.


Hot and cold towels may or may not be used in a plain facial, according to your own desires. One hot turkish towel is used after the application of cleansing cream. Two hot and two cold turkish towels are used after the massage.

1. Fold the turkish towel in half, lengthwise, and grasp one end in each hand.

2. Turn on the hot water and wet the towel by placing its center under the faucet. Move the towel back and forth to wet it thoroughly, but avoid wetting the ends that are held.
Turn off the water supply.

3. Remove the excess water by placing the center of the towel under the nozzle of the faucet. Bring both ends of the towel together above it; then pull the towel taut and wring it by twisting the dry ends. Remove the towel.

4. Test the heat of the towel by touching it to the inside of your wrist.

5. Untwist the towel. Hold it taut with its length horizontal and place its center over the mouth, directly below the nose.

Drop the ends.

6. Pick up the right end of the towel and bring it up and over, placing it diagonally across the face, Fig. 66. Place the left end across the other side of the face in the same manner.
The towel is properly adjusted when the ends begin to cross directly above the tip of the nose. Only the nostrils are exposed.

7. Cold towels are adjusted in the same way.



1. Remove a small amount of cream from the jar and place it in the palm of one hand or pour a small quantity of muscle oil into one palm.

2. Apply the oil or cream around the eyes and along the mouth lines, using a gentle patting movement.



There is a wide variation in facial movements, but basically they are the same. The facial massage covers the forehead and temples, around the eyes, the nose and mouth, the cheeks, and the chin and neck.

“To feather” means to smooth over the surface of the skin very lightly. This procedure is used in connection with a downward movement.

1. Place the facial fingers of each hand directly above the right temple. Smooth across the forehead with an up and down motion, alternating with the facial fingers. Rotate three
times over the left temple with the left facial fingers. When the right temple is reached, rotate three times with the right hand. Repeat three times, Fig. 67.

2. Place the facial fingers of both hands directly over the left temple, one hand slightly higher than the other. Alternating the right and left hand, half circle the forehead.
Rotate three times over each temple, Fig. 68.

3. Place the facial fingers of the right hand on the bridge of the nose and smooth up to the hairline. Then place the left facial fingers on the nose and smooth up to the hairline.
Alternate right and left hands. Repeat six times, Fig. 69.


4. Place the facial fingers of both hands together between the eyebrows. Smooth over the eyebrows to the temples. Rotate three times over the temples, pause, rotate in three places directly under the eyes, then return to the first position. Repeat three times, Fig. 70.


Place the first facial finger of each hand at the inner corner of the eyes. Rotate down the sides of the nose at three consecutive places, then pause. Using all of the fingers, feather across the cheeks to directly behind the ear lobes. With the back of the fingers, stroke back across the cheeks to the tip of the nose and back to the first position, Fig. 71. Repeat three times.


6. Place the first finger of each hand directly below the nose. Feather down gently to directly below the center of the under lip, pause, then feather to directly under the center of the chin, Fig. 72. Follow the same path to the first position while lifting and smoothing up, Fig. 72. Repeat three times.

7. Using the facial fingers of each hand, feather down the mouth line, Fig. 73. Then rotate upward over the mouth line in three consecutive places, Fig. 73. Repeat three times.


8. Cup the chin within the facial fingers of the right hand. Place the first facial finger of the left hand directly behind the left ear lobe. Draw the right hand along the jaw line
back to the right ear and rest the first facial finger behind the right ear lobe. At the same time, feather the left facial fingers along the jaw line to the chin. Cup the chin with the left facial fingers and smooth the left hand back to its first position, Fig. 74. Repeat three times, alternating hands.

9. Place the thumbs on each cheek, directly below the eyes. Bending the fingers toward the palm of each hand, pick up the cheeks at three places, Fig. 75. Begin at the mouth line
and work toward the ears. Repeat three times.


10. Place the first facial finger of each hand on the outer corner of each eye. Gently rotate over the eyelids at three places, then smooth over the forehead back to the first position,
using the facial fingers of both hands, Fig. 76. Repeat three times.

11. Place the little fingers of each hand directly under the center of the chin bone. Stroke down the neck. Let the other fingers follow the little finger in a piano movement. Work
the right hand toward the right ear and the left hand toward the left ear, Fig. 77. Use this movement at three places. Repeat three times.

12. Place the facial fingers of each hand on the back of the neck. Rotate up three times, then stroke down and over the shoulders. Return to the first position, Fig. 78. Repeat
three times.

rotate13. If a vibrator is available, use it lightly with one of each of the facial manipulations.

14. Moisten two cotton pads with boric acid. Place one over each eye and let them remain for at least five minutes.

15. Remove the eyepads.


1. Remove the tissue cream. Follow the same procedure as in removing cleansing cream, remembering to remove the cream completely from one section of the face before proceeding to another. The fingers of the left hand take care of the left side of the face and neck, while the fingers of the right hand cover the right side.

2. If desired, use the hot and cold towels, applying them as previously described.

3. Adjust a huck towel over the fingers of one hand in the same manner as the tissues. Using the towel, remove every particle of grease from the face and neck.

4. Moisten two cotton pads with astringent. They should be wet but not dripping. Hold one astringent pad between the thumb and index finger of each hand.

5. Apply the astringent by patting it gently over the face and neck. Keep your eyes closed, Fig. 79.

6. Spread the astringent to the face and neck, beginning at the forehead and using an upward and outward motion.

7. Dry your face and neck thoroughly with a huck towel.

8. Apply fresh make-up.



Every good cosmetic manufacturer produces bleach packs and masks of various description. When these are used, the directions given by the manufacturer should be followed carefully.

In general the method follows that suggested in removing blackheads.

A bleach pack is usually recommended for those of fair complexion. It will remove dust and dirt that may be ingrained

in the outer surface of the skin. Like other packs, the application of a bleach pack is relaxing. A bleach pack does not change the color of the skin, however. The coloring matter or pigment of the skin is found in the malpighean section of the epidermis.

It cannot be reached by a cosmetic applied to the surface of the skin, Fig. 80a.


Masks are used to tone up the skin and the muscles. The effect is of course only temporary. Like packs, they are relaxing, Fig. 80b.

The almond meal pack is a good substitute for the fuller’s earth pack or the prepared clay pack. The effects are similar.

In preparing an almond meal pack, two or three tablespoonfuls of almond meal are mixed with sufficient milk to form a paste of medium consistency. The pack is applied in the same manner as the fuller’s earth pack.


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