Joan Crawford’s Daily Beauty Secrets Included ‘Cleaning’ Her Eyes and Chewing Gum

Although Joan Crawford’s unsinkable attitude made her a celebrity, her beauty routine remains a hit with A-listers generations after the movie star became famous. The legend behind Hollywood hits like Grand Hotel and Mildred Pierce knew how to keep her face camera-ready, inspiring contemporaries like Jennifer Aniston. Joan Crawford’s beauty secrets even made it into a recent TV series that delved into her life as an aging star of Old Hollywood.

The Hollywood icon was a born entertainer

Joan Crawford beauty secrets
Joan Crawford in 1930 | George Hurrell/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Originally dreaming of life as a dancer, Joan Crawford got her first taste of showbiz with a traveling dance troupe, The New Yorker reports. Though her dancing ability ultimately landed her a Hollywood contract with MGM, the industry soon transformed following the success of The Jazz Singer in 1927, ushering in the sound era. With Hollywood needing a new generation of actors to sound like movie stars, Crawford was ready to step into the spotlight.

The transition from stage to film at a pivotal point in the industry was even more complicated than it appeared on the surface. Rapidly improving camera technology meant Crawford couldn’t escape from close-ups if she wanted to be a Hollywood star. Though she used to be able to stand at a distance from the audience, her face needed to be perfect as she looked to dazzle MGM and land major roles.

Crawford quickly proved to have the ideal blend of traditional Hollywood beauty and a fiery persona that made her one of MGM’s go-to stars throughout the late-1920s and 1930s. By the time she nailed her Oscar-winning role in 1945’s classic noir Mildred Pierce, Crawford easily had one of the world’s most famous faces.

Which Joan Crawford beauty routine does Jennifer Aniston follow?

Maintaining the Hollywood look soon proved to be as challenging as breaking into the industry. The best-known part of Joan Crawford’s routine involved splashing ice-cold water onto her face daily. The Mommie Dearest star was known to splash icy water on her face 25 times in a row to complete the routine.

Another trick included chewing an enormous amount of gum, which Crawford believed would help keep her famous jawline intact, Refinery 29 reports. She also cleaned her eyes with a boric-acid solution, a method that sounds scarier than it is. Today’s eyedrops are made with a similar solution, although Crawford was mostly freelancing her own version in her prime.

Many decades later, a new generation of stars still dips into Crawford’s well of celebrity beauty tips.

Talking about borrowing one of Crawford’s go-to routines, Jennifer Aniston told Vogue: “It’s an old-school trick Joan Crawford used to do — it just wakes up your skin.” Aniston, herself a beauty icon, opened up about her tips while promoting her Emmy-nominated Apple TV series, The Morning Show.

But while facial ice baths and prolific gum-chewing are doable, Crawford’s iconic eyebrows remain difficult to duplicate. Known for her razor-thin brows in the 1930s, the What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? star eventually grew them out and helped flip the trend by the ’40s and ’50s, E! News reported. More than a half-century later, bushy Crawford-esque brows are once again a beauty standard.

Joan Crawford’s lasting influence on Hollywood

Joan Crawford’s facial ice baths also made their way into Ryan Murphy’s series Feud: Bette and Joan, delving into the infamous feud between Bette Davis (played by Susan Sarandon) and Crawford (Jessica Lange). According to Town & Country, the skincare routine was critical in showing Crawford’s struggle to remain relevant in an unforgiving Hollywood obsessed with young faces.

Despite her trials, Crawford remained active in Hollywood deep into a long career, influencing the generation of actors and filmmakers that would become mainstays of the modern era. In one classic story, Crawford left a lasting impression on one acne-faced filmmaker just getting his start as an assistant TV director in the late-’60s. Crawford reportedly brought — and sold — large ice chests of Pepsi to the actors on the set of Night Gallery, keeping the crew and its young director loose by forcing everyone to belch. The filmmaker? Steven Spielberg.

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