Regency Cosmetics

While "painting" was frowned on by most of society (though only in public of course, the elaborate powderings of the last century still being used by many of the older generation) girls in Regency times were, by no means, unconcerned about their complexions, as these excerpts from period articles show:
  • "[the juice from green pineapples] takes away wrinkles and gives the complexion an air of youth.If pineapples are not available, onion will do just as well.
  • Another sovereign beautifier of the complexion is pimpernel water and yet another refresher can be made by mixing 1 lb. of rye breadcrumbs, hot from the oven, with the whites of four eggs and a pint of white vinegar, the whole to be used as a face mask.
  • Powdered parsley seed is believed to prevent baldness and slices of cucumber are recommended for tired eyes.
  • Ripe elderberries can be used to blacken the eyebrows and a mixture of Brazilwood shaving and rock alum, pounded and boiled in red wine, will produce an adequate liquid rouge; grated horseradish immersed in sour milk would get rid of sunburn or freckles ‘though we confess to the eccentricity of liking a little dash of sunburn, of a sprinkling of nice, little delicate freckles on the brow of beauty’."
An anonymous book entitled The Art of Beauty of the Best Methods of Improving and Preserving the Shape, Carriage and Complexion, Together with the Theory of Beauty, explains that ‘the colour of lips, the rich, fresh ruby tint, so highly praised by poets, painters and lovers depends chiefly on health. Excellent in principle, the young lady bans all fruit, vegetables and fish from her diet as well as pastries, cream and cheese. After getting up at 6:00 in the morning, and going for a brisk walk of a least three miles she is told to eat steak and ale for breakfast. Though a ‘fresh and handsome girl is advised to leave well enough alone', the author states that when ‘an antique and venerable dowager covers her brown and shrivelled skin with a thick layer of white paint, heightened with a tint of vermilion, we are sincerely thankful to her.’" In her book "An Elegant Madness", Venetia Murray tells how "Powders, paints, wash-balls, rouges and pomades were made from everything from almonds to violets. Among the more charming names of contemporary regency cosmetics were ‘Royal Tincture of Peach Kernels’, ‘Carnation of Lilies’, ‘Liquid Bloom of Roses’ (a rouge) and ‘Powder of Pearl of India’. Pomatum for the hair included ‘Pomade de Nerole’ and ‘Pomade de Graffa’, while ‘Olympia Dew’ was the favorite eye lotion, guara nteed to produce a seductive sparkle." Enjoyed this article? Visit our giftshop and escape into the world of Jane Austen for cosmetics!

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