The baby name Finesse debuted on the U.S. baby name charts in 1953, then disappeared again (until the 1980s).
- 1954: unlisted
- 1953: 7 baby girls named Finesse [debut]
- 1952: unlisted
What inspired the debut?
Finesse, the “flowing cream shampoo” that was introduced to American consumers in late 1952.
It was the creation of cosmetic chemist Jules Montenier, whose first product had been the best-selling spray deodorant Stopette, introduced in the late 1940s.
Advertisements for both Stopette and Finesse ran in major magazines and also on television, which was still relatively new in the early ’50s. The print ad to the right appeared in LIFE magazine in early 1953, and here’s a Finesse commercial from the same year. Here’s another Finesse commercial that aired as part of the game show What’s My Line? in late 1952. (For most of the 1950s, Montenier was the main sponsor of What’s My Line?)
Both products were notable because of their innovative plastic packaging. Stopette’s squeeze-bottle allowed the product to be sprayed upward (as opposed to being dabbed on manually, like most deodorants of the era) and Finesse’s accordion-like squeeze bottle and flip-cap were much safer in the shower than typical glass shampoo bottles.
In 1956, Montenier sold his brands to Helene Curtis. Stopette was eventually taken off the shelves, but Finesse is still available today. (The brand is currently owned by Lornamead.)
The word finesse has several definitions, including “refinement or delicacy of workmanship, structure, or texture.” It can be traced back to the Old French word fin, meaning “subtle, delicate.”
- Cosmetics and Skin: Stopette
- Finesse – Online Etymology Dictionary
- Finesse – Merriam-Webster
- Unique Products Goes “Poof!” On Game Show
Image: Ad from LIFE 9 Feb. 1953: 32.