Avon in Paris

It’s time for my annual April in Paris post. With France on the list of countries to avoid, I wonder how long it will be before we’re comfortable traveling anywhere again…..even to the drugstore to buy a new lipstick. 

During the 1940-50’s women were advised to buy a new lipstick to cheer themselves up, back when a tube of Max Factor could be had for cheap at the five and dime. Women were encouraged to keep buying lipstick during the war years to boost the morale of the soldiers by adding lipstick covered kisses to their letters to the front. Victory Red was popular, and applying it like a movie star was truly a glamorous thing.

Oh la la! The prices!

And so I took their advice and bought one….from Avon….because sometimes you just have to do something frivolous, like buy lipstick during a pandemic. 

I found the booklets hanging on my front door, the way they have shown up faithfully over the past year, even though I haven’t ordered anything in ages. Think of the paper involved in distributing all those campaigns. I’m surprised they still print them, but perhaps the demographic they cater to prefers paper.  And yes, if you don’t have an Avon lady, there’s a website with a digital catalog online.

When I did place an order, it wasn’t usually for makeup, but a musical church addition for my Christmas village, or a plaid scarf for gifting. Their 99 cent lip balms made nice stocking stuffers too.    

Plaid always cheers me up…

Avon has been around forever – 135 years – and the history of the Avon company is a fascinating one. It was founded in 1886 by David McConnell, a travelling book salesman who realized that women were more interested in his free fragrance samples than in the books. His was one of the first companies to hire women as sales representatives, giving them the opportunity to earn their own income. They started selling makeup in the 1920’s during the flapper years. Today they have sales of 5.5 billion worldwide with over 6 million representatives, and are the fourteenth largest beauty company.

Here’s a vintage 1956 commercial with their “Avon calling” signature slogan.

But Avon sells so much more than beauty products now.

I love the pearl necklace – always a classic choice.

As well as jewelry and gift items, they have branched into clothing, candles, aromatherapy and lately even disinfectants and household cleaning supplies. 

This past winter they had a very stylish Parisian theme.

Who wouldn’t love a Parisian holiday during a pandemic?

Now I’m a sucker for anything French, but I resisted…..the prices – yikes!

What a description – you’d better be purring with delight at that price.

I’m a sucker for cats too – she even has a French name – Yvette – so classy. It reminds me of the time my little brother gave us long black plastic cats filled with bubble bath for Christmas. Although I’m sure he picked them out at the drugstore, they must have appealed to him as a little kid. (He also bought us Charlie one year, a scent I hated and re-gifted to a more appreciative room-mate). 

This would make the purrfect present for someone travelling to France.

While I didn’t buy anything Parisian, I remain appreciative of the marketing campaign – they had me at vintage charm and romance.

Avon has been around for ever.  Even our quiet country road had an Avon lady back in the 1970’s. I remember ordering the Clear Skin line, although my makeup then consisted of Cover Girl and Maybelline.   Avon books have been a staple of many of my workplace staff-rooms in the past, even the pharmacies with extensive cosmetic departments and beauty boutiques. Someone was always selling Avon.  

But my, those prices have increased substantially. In the Christmas campaign, there was a perfume listed for $1300 in a crystal-encrusted decanter. There was a tester patch and while it was nice, you would expect nice at that price.  I often wonder who buys all those fragrances, when so many places have a no-scent policy, but then I haven’t worn perfume in years.

Even Avon’s popular Anew line of anti-aging creams is a bit pricey.  It does sometimes seem the more companies charge for these things, the better they sell (the Kardashian effect). The only high-end face cream I use is Night Repair, a fancy serum I buy faithfully twice a year, timed with their gift with purchase. (usually nothing I can use but I give them away) After 35 years, I figure Estee Lauder should be paying me by now.  I can’t credit my not-too-bad-for-my-age skin to the wonders of a miracle cream however, as being cursed with fair Celtic genes, I could never tolerate the sun.  A jar of $20 LaRoche Posay moisturizer for sensitive skin lasts me a whole year.          

Pandemic or not, I don’t wear much makeup anymore either, and what’s the point of lipstick when you’re wearing a mask.  Lipstick sales must have fallen dramatically over the past year. Still in a fit of optimism one day, I placed an Avon order for a lip balm crayon thing with just a hint of color.  L’Oreal discontinued the shade of lip-gloss I had worn for years – don’t you hate it when they do that?

It was delivered to my front doorstep in the familiar white bag with the pink logo, although my friendly Avon lady did not come in for a visit like she normally would, neither of us having been vaccinated. So much more civilized than the rushed grumpy Purolator guy who once tossed my Sephora order behind a geranium pot where the $24 Tarte lipstick promptly melted in the ninety-degree heat.

Was I pleased with my purchase?

Doesn’t she look like a hippy?

 Yes! It was a nice light shade (Loving Life – the rest were too dark and I’ll leave the red to younger faces) and texture, and not too bad a price for the size. They even threw in a free lip liner (the mystery gift). Now, I just need someplace to wear it, for what would an aspiring Frenchwoman be without her lipstick?  Hoping for better days ahead.

PS. Despite the creative marketing campaign, both the Eiffel Tower and Yvette are now discounted in the latest Bargain Booklet – I guess no one was in the mood for Paris – another travel-related casualty of the pandemic…

51 thoughts on “Avon in Paris

  1. www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

    Avon was great with novelty gift items, at least back in the day I bought their products. I even “worked” as an on-campus Avon Lady at Florida State University, leaving creative ads with colorful cut-outs from the catalog, taping them to the walls of ladies’ rooms and even elevators. My boss at the Early Childhood Education department suggested it.

    But about those novelty items, through Avon orders I was able to collect a set of all-white Nativity figures for my husband’s stocking stuffers. We still have them, and he delights in setting them out every December.

    Now I use L’Oreal and, occasionally, Estee Lauder’s “Night Repair” for my own fair skin. L’Oreal has something similar and works just as well. Make-up? At home? Sometimes I do as a psychological booster — for moi!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Thanks for sharing your Avon memories Jo! I like Night Repair because it is unscented and my sensitive skin can tolerate it, that’s why I stuck with it, and it’s non-greasy. The rest of the Estee Lauder free sample creams are too scented so I end up giving them away.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I remember the Avon Lady coming to our house, maybe once. My mother hated the whole idea of in-home sales. I like the new Living Life shade of lip crayon better than the old darker shades of lipstick. I have a few plaid scarves. I’d never consider them to be out of fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      My mother was okay with Avon, because they would just drop the books off and there was no pressure, but not at all keen on those house parties selling Tupperware or jewelry because then you were stuck having to buy something to be polite and we really didn’t have the money. I still have have the Sarah Coventry necklace she bought for some crazy price….it’s orange!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anne says:

    This post made me smile. I always put on a face cream – usually one with a sunfactor ingredient – and that is it. I stopped wearing any makeup once I retired. Now with masks there seems little point in even dabbing on some lipstick when I shop for groceries – no-one would notice at half past six in the morning anyway! Still, it is always a good thing to dream.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Schaub says:

    I enjoyed this post Joni having come from the Avon era thanks to my aunt who sold Avon for years. In fact, a girl I worked with sold Avon and left her catalogues in the kitchen at work and I always took each new one back to Toronto to show my aunt – she marveled how much cheaper the American products were to the Canadian products. Exact same products! I used to love the little white tubes of lipstick samples and when I first started wearing lipstick when I got braces at age 20, she would save me all the pale pink colors. My mom and I always got Avon for presents and Avon sure branched out through the years but now it’s been about 35 years since I was gifted anything. But as they started selling jewelry and I remember the scarves, but I only had one in white/sky blue/orange. I’d get Avon jewelry for Christmas or birthdays – my favorite was a heavy cross with jade inserts. And I used to like the Skin-So-Soft Bath oil, but I think I’d find the scent too strong nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Your aunt would flip over the prices now! I suppose par of it is the one-third difference in exchange rate, but I do think their prices have increased in general. I’ve only had my Avon lady for 3 years – I visited her booth at a craft fair and she recognized me from work, even though I had retired by then, and bought a few things there, so then she started leaving the books on the door. Skin so soft was supposed to keep mosquitoes away, but I don’t like scents either. I bought the musical church village piece for $24 in the bargain booklet and kept it to give to someone the following Xmas, but this year the same/similar item was $70?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That’s quite the mark-up: $70.00!! She could not believe the difference in prices all those years ago. The products were not always the same in the books which we thought was odd, but not any smaller as to product, just slightly different. I don’t like strong scents and I did hear that about Skin So Soft keeping mosquitoes away and my friend Ilene uses it on her dogs with some other ingredient to repel ticks. That same mixture she sprays on her clothing and skin as well when she goes tracking with her dogs. I don’t want oily residue on me so I just wear long pants and long-sleeved tops if I’m going into a woodsy area in Summer. I know Frances always gave my mom sachet in a jar and my father after-shave in the different containers like an old-fashioned car made of glass. He actually never used after-shave.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I added a vintage 1956 commercial with the Avon Calling slogan to the post today, as I had meant to look it up on youtube, but then Dave reminded me of the slogan. That was a trip to the past.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I just went on that post and watched it – you’re right … that was a flash from the past. The “Avon Lady” and ringing the doorbell. They said “Avon calling” in the commercials. It would be the same as the Fuller Brush Man from around the same period of time. – all things of the past. Even Encyclopedia Britannica vendors … long gone now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Encyclopedias! Everytime there’s a used book sale, someone donates a set – do they really think someone’s going to buy facts from 1965???

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That’s interesting – first I’ve heard of it, but who knows? It would be frightfully expensive I think. I know when my dentist uses his 3D printer to custom design my new tooth from a hunk of porcelin, using the 3D printer and computer imagery so it’s exactly the same as the broken one, it was $1400 per tooth. The 3D printer took about 20 minutes to make it as they did it in the room. I know they are doing a lot of pharmacogenetic research in pharmacy, so pills will be more tailored to your specific genes. You can even get a genetic profile of how your body would handle certain types of drugs, which will be useful for dosing, as one dose does not fit all for some classes of drugs, depending on how your liver metabolizes them. This costs $200-$500 and some pharmacies are offering it as a service, although most drug plans here won’t pay for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I thought it was interesting too Joni. I like the little tidbits of medical innovations they have thru the day. I thought your 3D printing/creation of your crown was fascinating. I guess drug plans consider it too experimental; probably the same here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Drug plans are looking to cut costs here in Canada, so many have yearly maximums, not hard to exceed if you have to use a biological injection once a month for 2K each time. It’s not the pills they worry about covering, but the more expensive targeted meds or technological advances which all come with big price tags. My dental plan did cover the tooth repair with the 3D printer, well they covered 90% of it but I was working at the time and had an excellent plan, most of them only cover cleanings etc. When I turn 65 I’ll have ODB coverage for drugs (which I don’t need) but no dental or eyeglass coverage….one of the advantages of being older I guess, but even then they don’t cover all drugs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Since I’ve been on Medicare, I now have dental and optical coverage for the first time since I went off COBRA in 2004. I stayed on COBRA after Robb/I left the firm (his wife was a teacher, so he was on her BCBSM plan). I spoke to an insurance advisor – he said forego the premiums for dental/optical and pay them out of pocket. Great, except my dentist often takes x-rays and my eye doctor charges a small fortune for glasses, but I go there as the dilating drops messed up my eyes one time and I stayed at the eye doctor for 8 hours and had to call a neighbor and his wife to drive my mom and me home. We had a 9:00 a.m. appointment and at 5:00-ish I still couldn’t see. They tried lots of drops to reverse the dilation drops – nothing worked. I was fine the next day, but this eye doctor uses Optomap and no dilation drops – it is a huge computer that takes pictures of all angles of your eye and they compare year-to-year. I actually was on my first day of Medicare and spoke to a guy in the Park that had paid $6,000.00 out-of-pocket for dental work and that prompted me to take the $37.00 per month rider for more coverage for optical and dental – he had a nightmarish sequence of appointments totalling $6,000.00 – that’s terrible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        $37/month sounds like a bargain to me. When I tried to continue my work coverage after I retired it was $430/month, or $5000/year so I dropped it. Some of the cheaper plans $200/month didn’t have good coverage.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, I thought so too – I was worried the Medicare would be more expensive than it is. I had to pay three months in advance as I’m not on Social Security (once I’m on Social Security, they deduct it from your monthly check). So it is $450.00 for a quarter and then $111.00 for the dentist/optical add-on for the quarter. I stayed on COBRA for a year after Robb/I left, then had to start looking … COBRA ends after 18 months. COBRA was also $450.00 but included optical and dental … after I got on my own insurance, it was more and no optical or dental. Healthcare is terrible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Our I.T. guy when Robb/I left the firm set it as our home page. It has a ton of info at a glance. I just have Google as my home page now on Chrome, but I still have to use Internet Explorer for work because we’re still on Windows 7. Next month it will be two years since Ron dropped off the laptop – I asked him to drop it off as he had to come here to fix something that Comcast did when they did an upgrade and I could no longer remote in to work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Just the desktops at work but we are still running the Windows 7 operating system. Truthfully, if the laptop was not on my stove glasstop I would not mention it – I like Windows 7.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I am still enjoying my shows and am in Season 5, next episode will be #5 – they have 13 shows per year. I will hate when it is over as I am really enjoying it. I did go on a long walk today, over 5 miles. I will sleep good tonight and won’t be up too late because of that walk. I was glad to get out of the house, away from work, the ants, a problem with the furnace again … it is shutting itself off before a full cycle. It is not making a code and every other time it runs normally. I have no words. It is a lemon and has been from day 1. Bryant furnaces are the one and only furnace/air conditioner that Flame sells. And, I have OnStar on my car and they said my tire pressure is low in the right-front tire. I have never put air in my tires – don’t laugh. This car has 8,900 miles on it and it is a 2009 model. Same tires from the factory and when OnStar says it needs more pressure, it usually happened I was getting an oil change, so just got them to fill it – they do a 17-point check after the quick oil change. I just ordered a portable air compressor from Amazon. My friend Ilene is in her early 80s and just got one and did her own tires. She says it is easy. I hope so.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Do you think you should get the furnace looked at now, as if you wait until fall they will be busy and booked up? I’ve never put air in my tires either, and don’t think I’d want to try. The garage in town will do it for you, or like you I get it checked with regular maintenance, which seems to be annually now that I’m not driving it much. I admire your friend and you for wanting to do your own, but I am hopeless at stuff like that. I even have my neighbour put air in my bike tires once a year, and then I never ride it so they go flat again….probably haven’t taken a bike ride in 5 years!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well it just came on and shut off normally – that’s good as it is cold again tonight. As for my furnace and air conditioner, I am on Flame Furnace “Gold Plan” which is $199.00 a year for an A/C checkup in Spring and a furnace check-up in Fall. So I am weighing whether to call for the A/C appointment erly and he can do both. Also trying to decide whether to shut the switch to reboot it and see if that would help. We have three days of rain and don’t want him up here in case it is a thermostat issue and especially while ant traps are all over the place. I thank you for your confidence in me – I don’t feel too confident about it … I could ask my next-door neighbor Jeff and may do that although the one I ordered which I sent Ilene the write-up (I Googled to get the best recommendation and that’s what they said and Ilene just bought one) … she said it is similar to hers. I got a tire gauge – not sure you need one. Not looking forward to it at all because like you I know nothing of these things. I get in the car and drive it … that is all. I wonder if it would be stupid to get my oil changed that far in advance of August? I only go once a year per their recommendation. They are very nice there and he said once a year is fine for an oil change based on my mileage. I’ve not been on a bike ride since 4th of July 1976 when a drunk driver hit me and knocked me down. The Metroparks and most of the bigger parks have bicycle paths – one of the big things here is to go to three Metroparks (about 20 miles from me but those parks are all connected by a bicycle path and people do a 49-mile-roundtrip ride). I do have an exercise bike in the basement my mom bought for me. It will arrive Monday -then I’ll mull over whether I can do it … supposedly you cannot accidentally burst the tire.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well, it was 75 in the house most of today, but it’s finally cooled off. The furnace got a break. I thought of turning it off, but knew it would not come on as it was warm. It’s always something – it is exasperating sometimes. I got the air compressor today from Amazon. Not 100% on board with using it – I am still tempted to go to the quick oil change place and get an oil change (a few months early) and learn about it another time. The ants, the plumbing issue and the furnace make me leery to have anything break. But my 80+ former coworker Ilene assures me it is easy to use.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave says:

    My wife is fiercely loyal to Clinique products – four or five in particular. If Clinique ever runs out of “matte beige” (yes, I’ve shopped cosmetics with her many times), I’m not sure how she’ll cope. I only remember Avon for their signature, “Avon calling!” I always wondered if they trained their sales reps to lead-in with that line every time the front door opened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Wow Dave I’m impressed – you even know the shade! I used to like the Clinique eyeshadows, and was always amazed that their pricey Turnaround Cream contained the same active ingredient (salicylic acid) as the creams we compounded for the dermatologist, albeit at ten times the price. Thanks for the reminder about the Avon Calling slogan – I meant to look up a vintage commercial on youtube and then forgot about it, so I’ve now added it to the end of the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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