I am very excited to have a guest post by Talia from The Gibson Girl Blog on 18th century cosmetic and beauty recipes! Enjoy!
18th Century Cosmetic Recipes
The Petit Albert is a well known text in certain circles. Part magic, part household hints, this French texts calls itself a "Universal Treasury" and claims it can provide useful knowledge to all humanity.
Among its secrets, which include love spells, recipes for pigeon feed, tips for farmers, and methods for creating artificial gold, a few beauty recipes are to be found. Some editions come bearing a date from as early as 1668, but because several elements from its content were controversial, there is suspicion about the authenticity of its printing dates (it was apparently quite common to put false printer's info on such books in an effort to throw off the censors -- placing an earlier date on the edition might falsely lead the authorities to figure the text had already been circulating under approval.) 1702 is the first definite date that can be confirmed for the Albert's existence.
|François Boucher,Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour. 1758, Oil on canvas. Fogg Museum.|
Here are a few notable tricks from Petit Albert:
Toothpaste: made from powdered myrrh and sage, mixed with honey.
|Carriera, Rosalba (1675-1757), Woman at her Dressing Table. 1730, watercolor, gouache on ivory.|
Wash-balls are an old term for complexion soaps (as opposed to laundry soaps, which was the primary use of soap for a long time.)
Remedy for pimples: Wrap saltpeter in a cloth and moisten it with clean water. Pat the pimples over with this cloth.
Hungary Water: 1.5 pounds rosemary flowers, 1/2 lb pennyroyal flowers, 1/2 lb marjoram flowers, 2 lbs lavender flowers, covered with 3 pints of aqua vita (a strong alcohol - vodka is acceptable.) Put it into digestion for 24 hours in a warm place, in a well sealed container. Then distill it.
Hungary Water is also called Queen of Hungary's Water, and is a "water" in the sense of a Toilet Water or Cologne, and was used originally as a medicine that could be rubbed on the body or imbibed to enhance health and beauty.
Hair dye: "Gold foam" (a kind of litharge*) powdered and boiled in water. Soak hair in the hot water, the longer the darker the color will be.
Some of these recipes might not be recommended any longer (honey will rot your teeth, *litharge is poisonous) but it is a fascinating look at the home remedies folks of old time used for correcting their beauty troubles!