Throughout its history, Johnson & Johnson has been known for developing and making products in response to needs in society…such as the first commercially available sterile surgical dressings. Occasionally, though, the Company produced a product that helped fill a more unusual need in society. One early product filled not a health care need, but a fashion craze. And that product was…Beauty Spots.
Beauty Spots were small pieces of material – usually black silk or sometimes velvet – with adhesive on the back. They were most commonly shaped like small stars, crescents, arrows, hearts or circles. Beauty Spots were used by women to attract attention to the complexion or an outstanding facial feature, such as the eyes, mouth, or a dimple. They would stick the product on their faces near whatever facial feature they wanted to accentuate. Occasionally, according to sources, women would use a number of them at once, which gave them the unfortunate appearance of having broken out in oddly shaped spots.
In 1915, the Company wrote:
“To supply the demand created by this fashion we have arranged an assortment of designs consisting of stars, crescents, arrow points, hearts, etc., which are put up in envelopes, each containing 100 spots (3 dozen on a card); also in fancy boxes containing 300 assorted.” [RED CROSS MESSENGER p. 286, March 1915, Vol. VII, No. 10.]
It was typical of Johnson & Johnson that, rather than just putting the product on the market (where it was bought by fashion-conscious women), the people at the Company felt the need to provide some education and background about its Beauty Spots. So Fred Kilmer wrote about them in the March, 1915 issue of THE RED CROSS MESSENGER, the Johnson & Johnson publication for the retail druggists who sold our products.
According to Fred Kilmer, Beauty Spots were worn in Ancient Rome and Egypt, and there was a beauty spot fad in 17th century France during the reign of Louis XIII, and in England during the reign of Queen Anne. Kilmer included an illustration from an old treatise on Beauty Spots (shown below) that shows someone wearing a number of them at once, including an elaborate horse-drawn carriage running entirely across her forehead!
RED CROSS MESSENGER Reproduction of Old Illustration Showing Beauty Spots in Use
Johnson & Johnson made Beauty Spots out of materials left over from making plasters. Since 1887, Johnson & Johnson had been making Court Plasters, which had the same origins but were the more practical cousin to Beauty Spots. To confuse matters, Beauty Spots were sometimes referred to as Court Plasters, a name that goes back to their origins in the royal courts of Europe. They had been used by court women, who set the fashions in their day. According to Fred Kilmer, Court Plasters started out as fashion statements, before being used by the masses to cover small cuts and scratches.
Court Plasters were small and adhesive, and came in little pocket-sized sheets that could be cut to size to cover up a small scrape or cut. They were made of luxurious materials like silk and taffeta, and came in a variety of colors. (A tradition that was later continued by BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages!)
Continuing the Court Plaster Tradition?
Johnson & Johnson also made Court Plasters from isinglass, a material derived from fish scales.
Cotolia Liquid Court Plaster
Oddly enough, the Company also made a liquid Court Plaster to put over small wounds, which sounds a lot like this modern product. (You will need to scroll down to the second product on the page.)
Fred Kilmer attributed the revival of Beauty Spots to the revival of little “vanity boxes” that could be carried in a purse. They contained a mirror and could hold small items, such as a sheet of Beauty Spots.
Beauty Spots Packaging, Product and Vanity Boxes
The Company provided educational background not just on its lifesaving products, but on its more unusual products as well, and Beauty Spots were no exception. Why? So that the druggists selling the products would understand them and be knowledgeable enough to answer the public’s questions.