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Beauty secrets of the past

The spring 2004 runways went back in time to the eras of prohibition and flappers, art deco and Hollywood screen sirens, and the glamour that embodied the 1920s, '30s and '50s. Along with this return to old-fashioned couture comes the return of traditional apothecary products.

Besides being multipurpose, the packaging of the bath and beauty products of the past evoke the eras in which they were first made. Simple products like Witch Hazel, an astringent, and Rosewater, a natural toner, are suddenly chic due in part to their retro wrapping. Found in a big green tin, Bag Balm, a moisturizing ointment originally used on farm animals, is great on cuticles and for softening rough spots on elbows. Frownies, made for over 100 years old and housed in a pretty lavender box, promises to get rid of frown lines. Monkey Brand Black Tooth Powder, is exactly as described but promises to whiten teeth. It comes in a little red container with a black screw top reminiscent of an old ink bottle. Smith's Rosebud Salve, stored in a pomade-like tin, has been salvaging irritated skin for more than a century and has a cult following.

Just like the beautifully crafted dresses of the past, these products don't have to be hidden in the closest but deserve to be put on display. After all, they are as much a decoration as they are a useful beauty secret.

If you have a tip or have noticed a trend you think our resident fashionista should know about, e-mail your comments to product@creativeloafing.com.