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OP: Food for Beauty

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by Helena Rubinstein

Everyone loves a good self-made millionaire story, and Helena Rubinstein’s (1870–1965)—even if apocryphal, marketing ploy, or both—is a good one.

Born Chaya Rubinstein in Poland to a middle-class Jewish family, Rubinstein emigrated to Australia at an early age to evade an unwanted arranged marriage. While there, she developed and sold a skin cream and—not without effort—she took the first steps in turning a modest business into one of the world’s first and largest cosmetics and health enterprises. By her mid-forties, she had salons in Australia, London, Paris, New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. 

In 1928, in an effort to save a failing marriage, Rubinstein—who we might call a workaholic today—sold off the American branch of her company to the Lehman Brothers for a tidy sum. The sale, however, did not result in an improved marital situation, so she began quietly buying back company stock on the open market, and, when the market crashed in 1929, she reacquired it in its entirety at a fraction of what she sold it for and turned it into a hundred million dollar asset.

The impact of owning and operating a global conglomerate ultimately wore on Rubinstein’s health, leading to spent time at a sanatorium in Switzerland where, on a diet of primarily raw fruits and vegetables, she experienced an improved disposition. Upon her return to the working world, she promoted the new diet regimen at her Zurich Room, which she says “was not in any sense to be regarded as a restaurant” but as “a laboratory for slender beauty and youthful health.”

In 1938, she published a cookbook called Food for Beauty, which we offer here. Rubinstein, writing with deep conviction, personally correlates health and beauty. Food, of course, is at the core, with dozens of menus and 60-odd recipes with such ethereal names as “Tropical Radiance” and “Sunswept Onyx.” 

And, of course, while she’s at it, she surely would not mind your picking up some of her great skin care products and exciting new lipstick colors.

Our copy is a first printing in Very Good Plus condition, printed on elegant off-white textured paper stock with green ink. The jacket, whose price has been torn off the front flap, bears some chipping about the edges and modest shelfwear. Otherwise, a nice looking, collection-worthy copy. Fascinating.

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