BACK Beauty Haul: Powders, Creams, and Makeup from the 1920s

Fitch's Beauty Requisites five-piece box by the F.W. Fitch Company

Fitch’s Beauty Requisites

The Arizona Historical Society holds thousands of precious objects in the collections. We protect and preserve these artifacts that share stories from Arizona history to show how people lived and worked in their everyday lives. Some of these objects are large and some are very small. How did women create their signature beauty looks in the 1920s?

Vintage Encharma Cold Cream Complexion Powder container from the 1920s

Encharma Cold Cream Complexion Powder

Over the last month, we have gathered objects from a beautiful collection of vintage compacts and makeup powders. These beauty products were donated to AHS from John A. Walker’s personal Drug Store Collection. John collected various beauty products from drug stores across Arizona. These beauty artifacts were sold mostly in the 1920s.

However, we do want to recognize that these products lack diversity in their colors and who is represented on their covers. The beauty standard after the First World War was ivory youthful skin that portrayed white skin as the beauty norm.  This left out women of many shades, which has only really begun to be rectified recently. It is important to note that there were beauty brands run by Black women and other women of color to cater to the needs of their communities. But, like they were excluded from the mainstream beauty culture, these brands were also left out of museum collecting missions in the past.  

We hope you enjoy looking at these unique pieces of history and getting a glimpse of beauty from 100 years ago. Each week on social media, we will be sharing selections from the collection! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to follow along. Share your comments with us and let us know what you think.

Further Reading:

  • “Self Made, ” a Netflix show that looks at Madame C.J. Walker, the first Black woman millionaire, who started a hair company for Black women.
  • Black Beauty: a Brief History of the African American Beauty Industry from the Library of Congress 
  • Hope in a Jar by Kathy Peiss is an in-depth history of beauty culture in the U.S. 


Jessica Perica
Marketing and Communications Intern


  • AHS Collections: 74.18.1292b, Fitch’s Beauty Requisites five-piece box by the F.W. Fitch Company
  • AHS Collections: 74.18.1222a, Encharma Cold Cream Complexion Powder by Luxor
Arizona Historical Society