All Made Up by Penny Dade

Browsing through a local library gives you a chance to find some real gems and interesting pieces. Sometimes it can be finding a book on something you are fascinated by but want to know more or on something you have never heard about but really captures your interest.

During a hunt through the fashion and beauty section of Croydon Library, whilst making the most of the wifi available, I came across All Made Up by Penny Dade that covers 100 years of cosmetics advertising. As somebody interested in cosmetics and advertising this book really spoke out to me.


As a nice small and lightweight paperback this seemed like a great book to put on the coffee table and flick through when I didn’t have much else to do or on my mind. Filled with a variety of advertising images from magazines, posters and newsprint courtesy of The Library of Historic Advertising at Middlesex University.

The book works its way through the decades starting at 1900 all the way through to the 1990s showing the way products were advertised with celebrities, advertorial paragraphs and increasingly artistic interpretations.

For me the most fascinating thing was not the writing going into detail about the advertising but rather the actual adverts. For there were some brands that I hadn’t appreciated were quite so old, ahead of the times or creative.

I’m used to the brand Cutex for doing nail polish remover of various types but it wasn’t until this book that I discovered they used to do nail varnish and lipstick originally. I’m not sure I could imagine using a lipstick from a brand that zooms in on using chemicals to remove other chemicals.

This was a really interesting book to flick through and I’d recommend getting it of your local library or picking it up for a couple of pounds if cosmetics advertising takes your fancy. Enjoyable but nothing groundbreaking or overly enlightening.

Published by Middlesex University Press, London, 2007 and available for as little as £8.

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