Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Breck Shampoo and The Breck Girls

If you grew up in the 60's and 70's, there's a very good chance you had a bottle of liquid gold - Breck Shampoo.  I remember it well, it seemed like a luxurious shampoo to me, it was thick and smelled so good.     Maybe I liked  it because of their ads and the beautiful Breck girls, after all, who wouldn't want to have a head of hair like those gals had - I was always trying all the shampoos - my hair was long, straight and tended to be on the oily side - I needed all the help I could get!!!

Last week Heidi Ann who writes about lots of vintage goodness over at her blog, Gold Country Girls, did two posts about Breck Girls - she included pictures from her vintage magazines.  If you want to read her posts, they're  here and here . That was all I need to haul out my vintage magazines and see what I could find -  I'm sharing mine with you today.

But, first, here's a few Breck facts - 

Breck Shampoo was created by Dr. John S. Breck in 1930 in Springfield, MA - it was thought to be the first pH balanced shampoo in history.

The Breck Girls were first  illustrated by Charles Sheldon who had previously worked at Photoplay Magazine, he was succeeded in 1957 by Ralph William Williams - his work is what you'll see on my images.

All Breck Girl images are at the Smithsonian Institute - many of the girls were company employees, Breck family members or local women who were not models.  Numerous celebrities were also Breck Girls - Cheryl Tiegs, Jaclyn Smith, Cybill Shepherd, Kim Basinger and Brooke Shields.

Breck sponsored America's Junior Miss Pageant - many girls were used from there.

The ads were normally on the back cover of such magazines as Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, Seventeen, Vogue and Glamour

The Breck girl was phased out in 1976 with the death of Williams.  

In 2006, Breck was acquired by Dollar Tree - from what I've read online people  it'sjust not the same - nothing is ever the same anymore...

Here are the Breck Girls, from my thrifted magazines.

From Ladies' Home Journal  - January/Februrary 1964 - I found this page torn from the magazine and folded in the middle.

From Family Circle - December, 1964

From Woman's Day, January 1966 

From Woman's Day, December 1966

The July 1973 issue of Woman's Day saw an ad for a new Breck Shampoo - Super Balsam.

From Woman's Day, October 1974

Once again they were advertising a new product - Breck Satin Lotion and Creme, the ad is different and there is no signature from Williams on it.  It is from Good Housekeeping, September, 1970.

There was even a Bonnie Breck doll - which you could order for $2 - this is from Good Housekeeping, October 1971.

It's no wonder these beautiful illustrations became part of the longest running and most successful campaign in advertising history - every one is gorgeous  - the images live on  - look on Pinterest,  you can probably see just about every Breck Girl.   I really think I need to find some more ads!!

Linking back with Dawn at We Call it Junkin and don't forget to check out Heidi Ann's Breck Girls at Gold Country Girls


  1. Thanks for such a fun and nostalgic post. I remember the Breck girls of the 1970s; their hair was super shiny and had great movement. They convinced me to use Breck for years, as well, although I didn't always have the same results!

  2. I'm glad you did this post as I remember the Breck girls very well. They certainly had beautiful hair in the artist's renderings. :)

  3. I saw the posts at Gold Country Girls. I remember Breck-- my mom bought it off and on, but I really didn't remember the ads. Never knew about the doll either. Thanks for posting!

  4. Well I do love those magazine ads! I was an Herbal Essence girl myself... makes me smile.

  5. Oh, this was fun! Thanks for sharing~

  6. How I wanted to be a Breck girl! Thanks for the memories, Jill. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  7. I don't remember Breck from my childhood but I do remember my mom talking about how it reminded her of when she was younger. She told me it smelled really good and she wished you could still find it in the stores. Wonder what ever happened to it?


  8. Oh yes I wanted to be a Breck girl but my hair was never that pretty! I loved that shampoo back then, but your are right it is not the same formula as before. Sad isn't it. Thanks for a fun blast from the past!

    hugs, Linda

  9. I remember the Breck Girls! My mom could have been one in the 70s, she had the most perfect teased hairstyle, really. Thanks for the history, Jill, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this at History & Home this week. Take care - Dawn @ We Call It

  10. I remember Breck. How funny. I love to collect these old things for our bathroom.

  11. Such lovely ads. I'm 75 and I still have wonderful memories of the Breck girls.

  12. I worked at the Breck factory in west Springfield Mass back in 58 through 1960. The shampoo was a wonderful product . I worked in the summertime and drove the founder John H Breck . I went to school with his grandson who later became my friend and my best man
    The story of the company was a saga and later the firm was sold to American Cyanamid and later ro Dial soap . Henkel and ultimately to the Dollar Tree stores.Though in the beginning the product was a premium brand with unique odor and a balanced ph manufactured in the factory with conditioners and other products after the sale to subsequent owners it ultimately ended up as a product in the Dollar Tree and though mass distributed was no longer the exclusive product of the early days when it brought itself to prominence through national television programs and specials when its US market share had soared to 20 percent at one point.

  13. What is the difference between the institutional Breck Shampoo and the old clear, gold Breck that was one available??