Barbie Beauty Center from Mattel (1972)

Company: Mattel | Release date: 1972 | Where to purchase: eBay

Released in 1972 by Mattel, the Barbie Beauty Center combined two childhood favourites: Barbie and dress-up play.

Some assembly was required with this toy. The box contained Barbie’s head, a pink plastic tray, and a neck to which Barbie’s head needed to be manually affixed. Hair accessories included two small green barrettes, one large green barrette, one green hair comb, one green hairbrush, four pink hair rollers, twelve bobby pins, and six rubber hair bands. Barbie’s hair would “grow” with a gentle tug of her ponytail, allowing for experimentation with short and long styles.

A selection of cosmetics was included that could be applied to Barbie and easily washed off, including eyeshadow and cheek blusher in a yellow compact, lipstick, false eyelashes, eyebrow/eyeliner pencil, and make-up applicators. A mail-in reorder form allowed children to restock Barbie’s beauty supplies.

No dress-up play would be complete without a little bling, and the playset also included three silky ribbons in pink, blue, and orange, along with a green pendant medallion.

The toy inspired a number of similar products, including the Cher Makeup Center from Mego (1977) and the Girl’s World Make-up and Hair Styling Model from Palitoy (1979).

You can view the original instruction guide – including hair and make-up tips – for the Barbie Beauty Center.

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