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Jackie Kennedy’s Beauty Routine Is Shocking In Today’s Standards

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis was an international style icon. She took the world by storm with her pillbox hats, perfectly coiffed hair, and signature Chanel suits. 

Even today, she remains a defining figure of American mid-century beauty and fashion. Her skincare routine, however, leaves much to be desired.

Hot Scrub And A Cold Rinse

Authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger published The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee in 2018. The “evocative and wonderfully gossipy account” of Jackie O and her younger sister, Lee, takes a closer look at the sisters’ relationship and personal lives. 

The book also described Jackie O’s sought-after beauty routine in great detail. And I have to be honest—it made my cheeks hurt just thinking about it. 

“Wash your face with hot water and a rough washcloth. Really rub with upward strokes on the cheeks and forehead,” Schoenberger writes. “Rinse with cold water. The shock will stimulate circulation and leave it tingling.” 

I agree; it will definitely leave the skin tingling. Burning, even. But that’s not all.  

“With the same upward motions, massage in a rich cream before retiring. Do this for about two minutes. Then, wipe off what is left, so you won’t find it on your pillow the next morning.”

Later in the book, Schoenberger also reveals that Jackie O was a fan of peroxide rinses. She used peroxide to combat nicotine stains from smoking two packs a day for most of her life. 

Style icon or not, there are certainly some things to address here.

Slow And Gentle Wins The Race

Hot water and a rough cloth might have been necessary to remove the thick makeup of the 1960s, but that’s no longer the case. First, let’s address the water. 

Hot water strips healthy, natural oils from the skin. This dries out the skin and causes premature aging. Oily skin can get even more oily. Dry skin can crack and become painful. 

Next, the tools: Jackie O’s routine called for a rough washcloth specifically. Rough cloth is great for exfoliating the skin every now and then. But using one every day can lead to redness, inflammation, and even abrasions. 

Instead, use a clean, soft washcloth to gently pat the face dry. Microfiber, silk, muslin, and bamboo are all great materials that take off just makeup, not the top layer of skin. 

Finally, let’s talk about those peroxide rinses. I’ve taken my fair share of peroxide swigs to fight canker sores. And in the couple of weeks I started them, I noticed a significant change in my teeth sensitivity. 

Long-term peroxide use wears away tooth enamel. Ironically, this can make your teeth look even more yellow by exposing the second, yellowish layer of the tooth: the dentin.

So, the moral of the story is not all icons should be copied verbatim. If you want to embody the effortless glamour of Jackie O, forget the scrubbing—just stick with a sheath dress. 

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