Below is an example of a section in the newspaper in 1912 for Health and Beauty Tips. The problem is that the information/ingredients in the article were considered prescription fakes. They’re advertisements setup to look like beauty tips from reader submissions.

What I enjoy about this information is the fact that even in 1912, people wanted articles/newspapers to be transparent and label the material as an ad, so they weren’t being deceitful. But it’s not just that it’s an ad, it’s the fact that these are well-known items being re-named and re-packaged and sold for more money and that newspapers gave them space (received money for an ad) to do this.

One example, in case you opt to not read the link to the information from the American Medical Association below, is the product Spurmax in the first tip. It was determined in a medical lab to be epsom salt. It was being sold for $.50 with a different name, but cost a penny. In some ads, it was being sold to readers as a way to lose weight.

Here’s an excerpt about the prescription fakes:




Nostrums and Quackery: Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quackery, Volume 1; Volume 1912 (page 628)
(Press of American Medical Association, 1912)

Here’s an example of the prescription fakes hidden in editorial.

Health and Beauty Helps

Mrs. G.: Powder covers up, but does not correct complexion faults.

Use this simple lotion and your skin will assume its former youthful clearness and take on a charming tint:

Dissolve 4 ounces spurmax in 1/2 pint witch hazel (or hot water) and pour in 2 teaspoonfuls glycerine. Using the spurmax lotion in place of powder overcomes the shiny, oily appearance and gives to a coarse, lifeless skin an exquisite fineness and healthy look. Even in hottest weather it is only necessary to apply the spurmax lotion once a day, because perspiration does not spot it, and then, too, it is invisible when on.

Madge W.: I never advise the electric needle for superfluous growths, because delatone paste does the “work quicker, more thoroughly and is devoid of pain. Mix some powdered delatone with water, then apply to objectionable hairs and after 2 or 3 minutes rub off, wash the skin and the hairs are gone. This leaves the skin smooth and firm.

A. B.: Cutting the eyelashes is dangerous. I would advise applying pyroxin to lash-roots with thumb and forefinger, as this makes them grow long, curly and silky. Your straggly eyebrows can be made to come in thick and beautiful by putting pyroxin on with finger-end. Use caution and don’t get pyroxin where no hair is wanted.

V. M.: Soap was never intended for shampooing, because the “free” alkali it contains raises havoc with the scalp and hair-roots. Use canthrox and you will find your dull, streaky, brittle hair will grow bright and even in color and be of a soft, silken texture. A teaspoonful canthrox dissolved in a cup hot water is ample for a delightful shampoo. This creates a wealth of rich, penetrating lather that thoroughly rids the hair and scalp of dust, dandruff and excess oil; and after rinsing, the hair dries quickly and takes on its former rich color and gloss. ,

Mrs. M. W.: – Your blotchy, pimply skin proves that the blood is in a very unhealthy state and demands prompt action. Get 1/2 pint alcohol and in this put 1/2 cupful sugar. 1 ounce kardene and hot water to make a quart. A tablespoonful before each meal is the proper dose. This soon cleanses the blood of impurities and clears the skin of pimples, blotches and sallowness, as well as builds you up and gives you complete health and full strength. For a face lotion, see answer to “Mrs. G.”

P. A.: You will find my quinzoin hair and scalp tonic very invigorating for lifeless itching scalps. To prepare, mix together 1/2 pint each alcohol and water, then add 1 ounce quinzoin. Rubbing a little at a time well into the scalp banishes dandruff and puts it in a healthy, pliant condition. Continued using restores the former gloss and rich color to the hair, as well as induces a luxuriant growth—all your own.

Lillian R.: You can safely recommend my crystos eye-tonic to your friends, for it is quite harmless and friends, for it is quite harmless and has a wonderfully soothing and strengthening effect on sore, aching or weak eyes. Here is the recipe: Dissolve 1 ounce crystos in a pint cold, pure water. Two or three drops should be put in the eyes each day. Thousands of my readers have used this simple eye-tonic to bring back the sparkle to dull eyes and very frequently people have been able to discard glasses after using it for a time.

P. X.: The fat around your abdomen will soon disappear once parnotis is used. This will also banish your double chin. To make, dissolve 4 ounces parnotis in l 1/2 pints hot water, and when it cools take a tablespoonful before each meal. Continue treatment until your weight is where you want it, and when you stop the treatment you need, have no fear of the fat returning. This method does away with dieting or violent exercise and is the only safe way of which I know to actually reduce weight.

Dorris: Greasy creams do more harm than good, because of their tendency to clog pores. This causes the skin to assume a leaden color and grow oily, and encourages blackheads, blotches and skin pimples. You will find this plain almozoin cream-jelly just the thing for complexion upsets and a permanent aid to real beauty: Stir 2 teaspoonfuls glycerine in 1/2 pint cold water, then add 1 ounce almozoin. When this is dissolved apply freely to face, neck and arms daily and it will cleanse the skin of impurities and give to it a charm and tint such as every healthy well-groomed woman has. Use this every morning and your skin will be free from freckles and the sun and wind will not tan it.