Softer, smoother, lovelier skin – that Schoolgirl Complexion Look –was protected by simply using Palmolive Soap

That Schoolgirl complexion advertisement for Palmolive soap

The oft-quoted slogan is featured prominently in this full page advertisement in Good Housekeeping, February 1953. At that time the claim had survived for several decades but it appears to have fallen out of use within the next ten years.

It was in 1898 that the B.J. John­son Com­pa­ny of Mil­wau­kee com­bined palm oil, olive oil and cocoa but­ter to pro­duce the first ship­ment of the dis­tinc­tive green bar of soap that was Pal­mo­live. The prod­uct was pop­u­lar almost imme­di­ate­ly, per­haps because the first adver­tis­ing cam­paign pro­mot­ed Pal­mo­live as an exot­ic cleanser that would have been favoured in the age of the Pharoahs.

By the ear­ly 1900s, Pal­mo­live was the world’s best-sell­ing soap and a full line of Pal­mo­live cos­met­ics soon fol­lowed. In the Roar­ing Twen­ties, Pal­mo­live intro­duced the new tagline, “Keep that School­girl Com­plex­ion” and added the Pal­mo­live Beau­ty Plan “is Far Bet­ter For Your Skin Than ‘Just Aver­age Care’ With Any Lead­ing Toi­let Soap! ”


The green colour had nothing to do with the Schoolgirl Complexion. It was explained in this advertisement

Palmolive advertisement explaining the color of the soap

Odd that the adver­tise­ment is an announce­ment that “Nature’s Chloro­phyll is in every cake of Pal­mo­live Soap” and that “Nature’s Chloro­phyll is what makes Pal­mo­live Green”

Wasn’t Palmolive soap always green?


There is a dis­claimer in small print that “no ther­a­peu­tic claim is made for the chloro­phyll but, at the bot­tom of the page there’s the ubiq­ui­tous, unproven endorse­ment from unnamed doc­tors to “prove Palmolive’s Beau­ty Plan brings most women love­li­er com­plex­ions in 14 days or less.”

This time read­ers are told that 36 lead­ing skin spe­cial­ists in 1285 tests proved beyond a doubt that the Pal­mo­live Beau­ty Plan can bring a soft­er, smoother younger look­ing skin! To most women in 14 days! Or less! Why 36 skin specialists—why not der­ma­tol­o­gists? And 1285 tests? What kind of tests? Where and when were the tests conducted?

There’s no disclaimer!

Accord­ing to the adver­tise­ment “The very first time you try the Pal­mo­live Beau­ty Plan you’ll actu­al­ly see Pal­mo­live begin to bring out beau­ty while it cleans your skin. Pal­mo­live is so mild…so pure…its rich, fra­grant lath­er gives you every­thing you need for gen­tle beau­ty care.”

 What was the 14 day Beauty Plan?

Mas­sage Pal­mo­live Soap’s extra-mild, pure lath­er onto your skin for 60 sec­onds.
Rinse with warm water, splash with cold, and pat dry. Do this three times a day.

That was it. You need no oth­er beau­ty aid. Just mas­sage your face as you wash; rinse, pat dry. And the result: “It feels just right…is just right for your skin.” And you will keep that School­girl complexion!

Palmolive…The “Chloropyll Green ” Soap
With The Pure White Lather.”

In the 1953 full-colour adver­tise­ment at the top of the post, the man behind the pret­ty woman with the “School­girl Com­plex­ion Look!” has been iden­ti­fied as the 7 ft 2 inch tall Amer­i­can actor Richard Kiel, best known for his role as Jaws in the James Bond movies.

The advertising/announcement was issued in name The Col­gate-Pal­mo­live-Peet Company.

Col­gate’s founder was soap and can­dle mak­er William Col­gate who estab­lished a starch, soap, and can­dle fac­to­ry in New York City in 1806.

Pal­mo­live was found­ed by B.J. John­son of Mil­wau­kee in 1898.

Peet Broth­ers Peet Broth­ers was a Kansas based soap man­u­fac­tur­er that was found­ed in 1872. Their prod­ucts includ­ed Crys­tal White Laun­dry Soap, Crys­tal White Soap Flakes, Creme Oil Toi­let Soap, Impe­r­i­al Per­ox­ide Toi­let Soap, Sea Foam Naph­tha Wash­ing Pow­der, Borax Wash­ing Com­pound, and many oth­ers. The com­pa­ny’s main plant was locat­ed in Kansas City.

The Peet com­pa­ny merged with Pal­mo­live in 1927 to become Pal­mo­live-Peet which acquired the Col­gate Com­pa­ny in 1928, cre­at­ing the Col­gate-Pal­mo­live-Peet Company.

In 1953, Peet was dropped from the name. (Note: A com­pa­ny named Peet Bros of Wis­con­sin sell soaps today proud­ly made with “ABSOLUTELY No Palm”)