[Audrey's back again, this time with some 17th century beauty tips! Enjoy.]
Long before drug store aisles were lined with creams, potions, and miraculous lotions, women invented their own beauty treatments and shared their favorites among close friends. Seventeenth-century writer Hannah Wolley, author of at least seven books on cookery, etiquette, and medicine, included recipes to address common cosmetic concerns of the day. Her tips range from the plausible to the grotesque.
The promises sound familiar, and when you consider the things modern women do for looks—chemical peels, bleaching trays, injections—the ingredients may not seem so bizarre. Although not for the squeamish, their organic credentials are indisputable. Do they work? Probably about as well as many of the claims we fall for today!
1. To make the Hair grow thick: Make a strong Lye, then take a good quantity of Hyssop-Roots, and burn them to Ashes, and mingle the Ashes and the Lye together, and therewith wash your Head, and it will make the Hair grow; the Ashes of Froggs burnt doth increase Hair, as also the Ashes of Goats-dung, mingled with Oyl.
2. A Water to take away wrinkles in the Face: Take of the Decoction of Briony and Figgs, each alike quantities and wash the Face with it.
3. To take away Hair: Take the Juice of Fumitory, mix it with Gum-Arabick, then lay it on the place, the Hairs first plucked out by the Roots, and it will never permit any more Hair to grow on the place: Also annoint your Head with the juice of a Glo-worm stamped and it hath the same Virtue.
4. To take away Freckles in the Face: Annoint your face with oyl of Almonds and drink Plantain-water, or annoint your Visage well and often with Hare's blood.
5. To take away Pimples: Take Wheat-flower mingled with Honey and Vinegar, and lay it upon them.
6. To make the teeth white as Ivory: Take Rosemary, Sage, and a little Almond and Honey, and boyl them together in fair Running-water, and when it is well boyled, strain out the fair water, and keep it in a Glass, and use it sometime to wash your Mouth and Teeth therewith, and it will make them clean.
7. To make the Breath Sweet: Wash your Mouth with the water that the shells of Citrons have been boyled in, and you will have a sweet Breath.
8. To make the Nails grow: Take Wheat-flower, and mingle it with Honey, and lay it to the Nails, and it will help them.
9. For the Lips chopt [chapped]: Rub them with the Sweat behind your Ears, and this will make them smooth and well coloured.
10. To smooth the skin: Mix Capons-grease with a quantity of Sugar, and let it stand for a few days close covered, and it will turn to clear oyl with which to annoint your face.
Hannah Wolley, The Accomplish’t Lady’s Delight in Preserving, Physick, Beautifying & Cookery (1675)
Audrey Bilger © 2007-2009
Pix from Top
Male & Female Glowworms
A Black Java Rooster (probably not "caponized," but you get the idea)