Monday, August 1, 2011


Among our bits and pieces are notes on the use and ‘makeup’ of cosmetics:
*the term pomander is derived from ‘pommes d’ambre’ or amber apples. They were carried to mask offensive odors and to ward off disease.
*As a base for cosmetics, perfumed ground alabaster or starch were used as well as ceruse (white lead) . Lip sticks consisted of coloured ground plaster of Paris.
*Although black patches were most fashionable, scarlet patches were also worn.
*False porcelain teeth were often worn with cheek plumpers.
*Also providing color was Spanish wool. Spanish leather, carmine, coloured ceruse, vegetable rouge, and serviette rouge (a rag dipped in coloured dye).

Interesting ingredients for cosmetics were lead, mercury, bitter almonds, tartar, the whites, birch tree sap, rosemary and white wine, ass’s milk. Also hog lard, honey, bear’s grease, olive oil, Arabian gum, rosewater, orris root, musk, civet, amber-gris, oil of cloves, vinegar, alum. Already mentioned - ground alabaster, plaster of Paris and starch. Lye, rhubarb, puppy fat, apples, posset curd, egg shells, borax, white poppy seeds, and quick lime. Lead calcined with sulphur, frog’s blood, leeches, goats grease, apricot paste, myrhh. Also puppy dog urine (drunk in the 17th century), dog blood, buttersnail shells, lemon, sugar, gold leaf, jasmine, frangipane, water of talc and frog spawn water.

*Hungary water was a popular scent consisting of rosemary oil, verbena oil, Portugal oil, linette oil, peppermint oil, triple rose water, triple orange flower water, and ninety percent alcohol.

I mentioned ceruse. It was commonly called paint (as in powder & paint) and gave the skin a fashionable whiteness and was the main ingredient in most rouges and lip salves. The most celebrated example of its fatal results was Maria Gunnning, Lady Coventry, a noted beauty who died of lead poisoning in 1760. In mid century England heavy cosmetic use by the elite included not only the women but the men as well.

The above is the “WHAT” but tomorrow I will make a continuation with the “HOW” – . . . . . to be continued