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Take good care of yourself...

In the 1920s, both health reformers and advertisers promoted the shiny porcelain bathroom as the center not only of personal cleanliness but good health. And they advised filling those new, built-in medicine cabinets with preventatives and remedies--products deemed essential at a time of rising standards of personal care.

From a catalog of bathroom tiles, 1926

From a catalog of bathroom tiles, 1926

"Our health dependes on ourselves. . . the care we give our body—the human machine."

—Dr. Thomas Darling in Health and Efficiency, 1922

Pond's Tablet Digestans, 1920s 

Pond's Tablet Digestans, 1920s 

St. Joseph's Pure Aspirin, 1920s

St. Joseph's Pure Aspirin, 1920s

Vaseline white petroleum jelly, 1920s

Vaseline white petroleum jelly, 1920s

Band-Aid package, 1920s

Band-Aid package, 1920s

Gem safety razor, 1920s 

Gem safety razor, 1920s 

Arnica Tooth Paste, 1920s. The containter reads:

Arnica Tooth Paste, 1920s. The containter reads: "Arnica Tooth Paste is an Excellent Article for Use to Whiten and Beautify the Teeth and Sterilize the Mouth...It imparts a most Delightful Perfume to the Breath"

Madam Walker's Glossine for

Madam Walker's Glossine for "beautifying and softening the hair," 1920s (front)

Madam Walker's Glossine, 1920s (reverse)

Madam Walker's Glossine, 1920s (reverse)

Ad, 1925

Ad, 1925

We would recognize most of the products in a 1920s medicine cabinet, in function if not form. Well, not the chlorine gas "bomb" for treating the common cold that made a brief appearance in 1925!

Ad, 1921

Ad, 1921

By the 1920s, notions of health and beauty were conflated. African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker developed a popular line of personal care preparations for a previously ignored market.