June 10, 2023

An authentic ad from the late 19th century involves a sketch of a girl in a “toilet mask” or “face glove” supposed to “beautify,” “bleach,” and “preserve the complexion.”



Battling blemishes, growing old, and all kinds of pores and skin treatment battles is a tale practically as outdated as time alone, with a multitude of alleged cures, remedies, and methods to make one’s facial area glimpse better in any way attainable. One particular certain attractiveness hack from the late 19th century, identified as a “toilet mask” or “encounter glove” can likely very best be described as an early model of what we know as a pores and skin treatment facial mask. 

We encountered a quantity of adverts in American newspapers from that time time period that showcased “Madame Rowley’s” brainchild, a toilet mask which was supposed for “bleaching and preserving the pores and skin, and taking away complexion imperfections.” 

(Bettmann/Getty Images)

This was certainly a serious generation from the late 19th century, which was promoted in American newspapers for a quantity of years. In 1875, Helen M. Rowley gained a patent for what she explained as “masks for health care applications.” In accordance to her patent, filed in 1874:

My creation is made up in the application, as a health-related agent, to the confront of a particular person suffering with particular forms of disorder, or afflicted with a terrible complexion, of a mask designed of versatile india’rubber, both for the reason of fascinating perspiration with a perspective to soften and make clear the skin by relieving the pores and the superficial circulation, or for the objective of making use of and confining [u]nguents or other healthcare preparations to the pores and skin of the face for the palliation or overcome of cutaneous eruptions, blotches, pimples, or other very similar complexional flaws.

My creation is peculiarly tailored to the requirements of ladies who drive to improve their complexion and I contemplate its currently being worn during the several hours of slumber.

For freckles or fugitive discolorations, and for clogged pores and capillary congestion, the perspiration excited by covering the encounter with a medium which stops the escape by evaporation of the cutaneous transpiration, acts as a bleaching agent, and to minimize the loaded pores and congested capillary vessels. But for affections necessitating unique remedies the health-related agent tailored to the certain ailment could be applied in the shape of an ointment or plastic planning spread [upon] the inside floor of the mask. The mask need to be produced so adaptable as to use alone easily and intently to the encounter of the wearer.

Even though Rowley herself was from Ohio, her business identified as “The Rest room Mask Business” had places of work in New York Metropolis, and even in the United Kingdom, in accordance to just one ad we stumbled on in Real truth magazine. This exact same deal with was present in an 1895 advertisement on Alamy, which referred to her as “Madame P. Rowley.” 

(Fact/College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

By the late 19th century, her commercials ended up found in regional newspapers and magazines like Harper’s Bazaar:

(The Philadelphia Periods, 1890)

(Detroit Cost-free Push, 1889)

The ads propose that the mask be worn in the course of rest, but it may possibly be used “with equally good effects” at any other time. 

We even discovered a work posting for a situation with Rowley’s enterprise in 1879, inquiring for a “attractive” and “accomplished” sales woman and correspondent.

(New York Each day Herald (1879))

Supplied that we have uncovered archival proof of the similar business running in New York City and London, below the title of the Rest room Mask Company, as properly as evidence of it remaining patented in 1875, we level this assert as “True.” 


Detroit Cost-free Push, 5 May perhaps 1889, p. 24. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/114654926/toilet-mask-2/. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

Harper’s Bazaar. United States, Hearst Company, 1879. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

“Enhancement in Masks for Health care Reasons.” US165955A, 27 July 1875, https://patents.google.com/patent/US165955/en. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

“Natural Beautifier for Bleaching and Preserving the Pores and skin and Removing Complexional Imperfections. Blemishes May well Be Concealed Imperfectly by Cosmetics and Powers, but Can Only Be Removed Permanently by “Bathroom Mask”.” Alamy, 1895. https://www.alamy.com/inventory-picture-normal-beautifier-for-bleaching-and-preserving-the-pores and skin-and-eliminating-169315878.html. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

New York Day by day Herald, 16 July 1879, p. 12. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/114654960/new-york-day-to-day-herald/. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

“The Women Environment. Madame Rowley’s Bathroom Mask .” Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-image/the-females-environment-madame-rowleys-bathroom-mask-information-image/516536968. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

The Philadelphia Moments, 6 Apr. 1890, p. 13. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/114654896/toilet-mask/. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.

Truth of the matter. United Kingdom, n.p, 1898. Accessed 15 Dec. 2022.