The Glamorous World of 1946: Inside an Iconic Beauty Salon

Step back in time to 1946 and discover the fascinating story of Mabel Young, a trailblazing beautician and manicurist. From her humble beginnings as an apprentice to owning her own salon, C'est Si Bon, in Gauteng, her journey is one of empowerment and style. Join us as we dive into the glamorous world of 1940s beauty and uncover the secrets behind Mabel's success.

A Meticulous Craft

Imagine a world where elegance and sophistication reigned supreme. In 1946, Mabel Young opened her own Beauty Salon, C'est Si Bon, on the first floor of St. Mary's building, overlooking Eloff Street, in Johannesburg. She became renowned for her exceptional skills in manicures and facials, catering to a wide array of clientele.

Mabel's trade as a manicurist was an art form in itself. With a keen eye for detail, she would soak her clients' fingers in a tiny bowl of warm, soapy water, meticulously filing and shaping their nails to perfection. The cuticles were gently pushed back, and a stunning selection of nail polish colours awaited the clients' choice. From bold hues to subtle shades, Mabel's salon boasted a rainbow of options.

But her talents didn't stop there. As a skilled beautician, Mabel provided clients with luxurious facials. Picture a client lying on a bed, eyes covered with cotton wool, as Mabel applied lotions and creams to their face. With expert hands, she massaged their cheeks, forehead, and neck, ensuring a pampering experience like no other. Finishing touches included face powder, rouge, and meticulous eyebrow shaping, leaving clients feeling like true stars.

Breaking Barriers: C’est Si Bon – a Woman-Owned Business in 1946

C'est Si Bon wasn't just any beauty salon; it was a woman-owned business that defied the societal norms of the time. Mabel's salon attracted a diverse clientele, predominantly consisting of ladies who revelled in the indulgence of her services. However, Mabel also catered to a select group of gentlemen, primarily from the legal and medical professions, who sought her skilful manicures. For the gentlemen, the focus was on grooming and neatness, without the application of coloured nail polish.

Today, we honour Mabel's remarkable journey and the mark she left on the beauty industry. Mabel leaves a legacy of impeccable beauty standards and an unwavering passion for her craft. Her expertise and dedication continue to inspire future generations of beauticians, ensuring that the spirit of C'est Si Bon lives on. We cherish the memories of an era where beauty was elevated to an art form and where Mabel’s talents shone brightly.

Author: LA Young