Camay, You StayPosted: February 6, 2011
My sister and I were talking about Camay soap recently. I’ve been on quite the nostalgia kick for the last year, desperately seeking out perfumes and beauty products that I loved when I was a child and teenager that have since become scarce. We realized that we never see Camay in stores anymore, nor do we see commercials for it.
Camay used to be quite a contender in the beauty world. Ad campaigns from the 1940s and 50s featured brides with radiant complexions courtesy of Camay – these were real women who were used for the ads. In the 1950s, Camay added cold cream, and the classic pink bar was born. In the 1970s, Camay commercials featured a real princess, Princess Luciana Pignatelli, as their spokesperson. When I was a kid, Camay was a staple of my bath time routine. I remember watching an episode of “The Sonny and Cher Show” in which Cher made a joke about scratching the word “Camay” into the soap with her fingernail in the bath. I could totally relate because I did that too! Camay was also my mother’s soap of choice for threatening to wash my mouth out with soap for saying a swear word. It was a threat that was thankfully never realized, although one time it came awfully close when I tried to call my mother’s bluff. But I caved before she did.
Searching online, I came across an article from the New York Times from last November. The author was also lamenting the disappearance of Camay. That article got Psychology Today talking (read this article for the link to Camay’s banned commercial!). It turns out that Camay still has a loyal following, and that many of these Camay fans have been forced to turn to the Internet to find their beloved pink cake of soap (old commercials called soap “cakes” rather than “bars.” Sounds much more pleasant, doesn’t it?).
Camay is available on drugstore.com for $3.49 for three bars. But I can be very impatient when wanting to try a new beauty product, and decided to see if the old-school, family-run grocery store around the corner from my house carried it. Score! Turns out they do. In my neighborhood, which is older, I can imagine many of the older women keeping up the demand for Camay since the 1970s. And the three-pack was about 90 cents less than drugstore.com’s price.
If you read the reviews for Camay on drugstore.com, one of the major “controversies” among Camay loyalists is that the fragrance has changed. Old advertisements from the 1950s proclaimed that Camay was scented with perfume from Paris. Fancy stuff! Proctor and Gamble, Camay’s manufacturer, has admitted to changing the fragrance to make it more “universal” in today’s market so as not to affect those who suffer from allergies. If I didn’t know they changed the fragrance, I wouldn’t have noticed it. The new Camay still has that bath-bar, heavily perfumed fragrance. Not that it’s unpleasant, just a bit overwhelming. But then, that was part of the whole Camay bathtime experience when I was a child. The soap lathers well and rinses off very easily. My face is literally “squeaky clean.” It might be a tad drying, but nothing that a good moisturizer couldn’t compensate for. I’m going to try to go “old school” in my skin care regimen and see if Camay gives me the same glowing complexion it gave our mothers and grandmothers. If nothing else, I’m getting immense satisfaction from the nostalgia of using it.
These days, this simple little pink “cake” of soap has gotten lost in a sea of high-tech, dermatologist-developed and celebrity-endorsed lotions and potions. But it’s nice to know that it’s still there, and whenever I need a little comfort and reassurance I can reach for a bar of Camay to instantly transport me back to a simpler time. Other beauty products I want to revisit, but can’t find include Maybelline’s Moisture Whip cleanser, and Bonne Bell’s Moisture Light moisturizer. What products did you love when you were younger that you can’t find now?