Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

cosmetics-msg - 5/13/10


Period cosmetics.


NOTE: See also the files: cosmetics-lnks, handcream-msg, mirrors-msg, jewelry-msg, hair-msg, tattoos-msg, perfumes-msg, bathing-msg, p-hygiene-msg, Handcream-art, Hand-Lotion-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: make-up

Date: 25 Oct 1993 14:49:38 -0400


Cait writes:

>Well, yes, only the wealthy could afford lead for pipes. Only the

>really fashionable in the Tudor times wore white lead paint for their

>faces. Just goes to show you how we women all suffer in the name of

>fashion . . .


Let's not forget the antimony for eyeliner, the belladonna for






From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: diseases

Date: 22 Nov 1993 17:02:16 -0500


>Well, lessee. For rich peoples' diseases, lead poisoning in ancient

>Rome and (I assume) among noble ladies who used lead oxide as a



And belladonna, though I suppose blindness isn't a disease, per se.

Acute antimony poisoning (from eyeliner).  


This reminds me that chronic lead poisoning is a middle class disease,

not because of lead pipes, but because of pewter.  (I shudder

everytime I see someone drinking lemonade from a pewter mug)





From: Honour Horne-Jaruk (5/9/94)

To: Mark Harris


> What is ceruse and how was it used? I've wondered about some of the cosmetics

> but its something I haven't had time to research (other than the CA pamplet

> on cosmetics). The only one that I can really remember off the top of my head

> was the white lead used as face paint. Egads. I wonder if we will find in the

> future that we today are currently doing something as ghastly.


        Ceruse was white lead. Vermilion was flowers of mercury. Kohl was and

is powdered antimony. Veridian was salts of arsenic. Yes, I do substitute...







Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 08:04:33 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming)

Subject: SC - Re: Worm Recipe (plus a "new" book)


By the bye, I received a copy of _The Elixirs of Nostradamus_

("Nostradamus' original recipes for elixirs, scented water, beauty

potions and sweetmeats"), edited by Knut Boeser, printed by Moyer Bell,

1994. ISBN is 1-55921-155-5.  Most of his facial and skin preparations

include lead and other dangerous compounds.


The second part of this book contains sweetmeats:  preserved lemon

peel, pumpkins, bitter oranges, walnuts, bitter cherries; a transparent

jelly from bitter cherries and one from quinces (Who was looking for

documentation for jelly??); ginger water; preserving roots of eryngos,

welted thistle; preserving limes, quinces, unripe almonds; preserving

the peel or rind of alkanet; candied sugar; pine-nut kernel confection;

marzipan; and penide sugar.


Alys Katharine



Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 16:04:58 -0700 (PDT)

From: "The Household of..." <macbetha1s1 at hotmail.com>


Subject: make-up and sheep


>Is there anybody who might be able to tell me where I might find any good

>sources for Elizabethan make-up? I was interested in maybe entering some in

>a A&S competition but I haven't been able to find any documentation.




there is a site at http://www.dnaco.net/~aleed/corsets/makeup.html which

might be of some use to you.  It has a fair bit of info about the

Elizabethan ideal of beauty, along with some period recipes, if you're game





Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 22:18:00 -0500


To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: [sca-arts] Suncreen is period!


You all might know about this already, but it was a surprise to me.


I have been doing some research on period cosmetics when I came across the

following in _Magiae_Naturalis_ (Natural Magic) by Giambattista della

Porta, originally published in Naples 1559:


How to make a Sun Burned Face white, Another way:

"If the face is smeared with the white of an Egg, it will not be

sun-burnt. With us, women that have to do in the Sun, to defend their

faces from the heat of it, that it may not be black, they defend it with

the white of an Egg beaten with a little starch, and mingled."


Given how good modern sunscreens are, and the demonstrated importance of

wearing them, this is probably not effective enough to be worth trying.

But, it does help establish that at least for some people, some of the time

1) wearing sunscreen was done in the 16th century and 2) the shiny look

that one's face gets when wearing sunscreen is consistent with the above



I feel less inauthentic now!


--Katharine Whisler (Katerina Arondel)



Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 10:21:13 -0500

From: Pamela S Keightley <pkeight at vvm.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Elizabethan Make-Up


Elizabeth Wilson wrote:

> Is there anybody who might be able to tell me where I might find any good

> sources for Elizabethan make-up? I was interested in maybe entering some in

> a A&S competition but I haven't been able to find any documentation.

> Alessandra


Here is some information from a book I have studied that might help you

get started.


_Elizabethans at Home_ Lu Emily Pearson, Standford, California:

Standford University Press, 1957.


The Index has entries under "cosmetics and hairdressing."


P. 596 According to Vives the white paint/makeup the Elizabethan's used

was down right dangerous due to the poisonous metals, lead and mercury (

"both by the reason of the cruse (white lead) and quick silver....")


P. 55 "If there was no table in the lady's bedchamber, she might arrange

on a chest her small standing mirror and silver boxes and jars for

essences, cosmetics, and paints. It also mentions the use of glazed

earthenware jars for the storage of salves.


P. 601 Hair was often dyed. "Beards, like hair, were of all styles, and

they too might be dyed any color to match the costume - straw-color,

purple-in-grain, French crown color, or perfect yellow." Same pages

mentions a man in love perfuming himself by  "rubbing himself with



P. 598 mentions John Gerard's _Herbal_,1597, as a source of formulas for

scented cosmetics or "toilet preparations."


P. 409 cites _Delights for Ladies_ by Sir Hugh Platt as being a popular

cookery and household book of recipes in the early seventeenth century.

This book apparently contains recipes for things like rose water, salves

for chilbanes, sorrel juice to whiten hands, birch sap for removing

freckles, teeth whitener from a quart of honey, a quart of vinegar, and

a pint of wine boiled together.  Pimple removal with salt and lemon

juice. For more serious cases, brimstone in oil of turpentine followed

by the application of  the "oil of fresh cream from the milk of the

previous evening."


P. 597-8 Wigs, hair pieces, and wire frames were devised to support a

ladies hair and its accessories. Brow lines were plucked to make them

higher. An ivory comb was used on the hair, (because it was said to

helped increase memory.)


So here are some ideas for you display. I would look for additional

sources to confirm any of the information in this message since using

three different sources to confirm information is a pretty good rule.


Good Luck,

Pamela Hewitt, the Harper



Date: Sat, 01 Apr 2000 15:01:27 MST

From: "Ches" <ches at io.com>

Subject: Re: ANST - Question About Skin Tone in Middle Ages

To: <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>


>    A discussion area on a mundane site I visited was discussing tanning.

> I seem to recall from somewhere that in the Middle Ages, women's pale,

> non-sun-baked skin tome was prized. Was this indeed the case" Can

> anybody give me a source I could cite in such a discussion?

>    Valstarr


I am not sure about the middle ages but there is a whole website dedicated

to Elizabethan Makeup. Drea is being elevated to Laurel tonight so she may

not be able to get back to you immediately. Write to her for more sources. :)



Chiara Francesca

Dallas, Texas



Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 10:57:42 EDT

From: <Seton1355 at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Natural lip balm


I got this from one of the newsletters I subscribe to.  I think it is worth

passing along.


Homemade Lip Balm:


1. Chill a teaspoon in the freezer.

2. Melt one and one-quarter ounces of beeswax at low temperature in the oven.

3. Warm one cup of olive oil or almond oil in a saucepan over low heat on the

stove top.

4. Pour the melted beeswax into the warm oil.

5. Dip the chilled spoon in the mixture and put it back in the freezer for 30


6. Rub a finger in the balm on the spoon to test whether it is soft enough to

apply to your lips.


If the balm is too soft, add more beeswax; if it is too hard, add more oil.

Then stir in a drop of peppermint, lavender, or other essential oil you like,

and spoon the mixture into jars. Cap the jars when the balm has hardened. (A

dash of liquid vitamin E added to the mixture will extend its shelf life.)


>From "The Woman's Book of Healing Herbs" (Rodale Press, 1999)


For more tips on finding a natural lip balm, go here:




Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 00:27:36 -0500

From: harper at idt.net

Subject: SC - Flavored cheese


I was glancing through the "Obra de Agricultura" (Spanish

agricultural manual, 1513), and I came across the chapter on

cheese. Herrera says ...


<snip of cheese info - see cheese-msg>


Sheep dung mixed with vinegar will remove blemishes from the

body; mixed with oil and wax, it will cure burns.  (Just in case you

were wondering.)


Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Settmour Swamp, East (NJ)



Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 17:37:52 -0700

From: Robin Carroll-Mann<rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Period cooking oils?


On Wed, 10 Jul 2002 18:08:48 -0600 El Hermoso Dormido

<ElHermosoDormido at dogphilosophy.net> wrote:


"I'm looking in my pantry and suddenly find myself wondering how many oils

besides olive oil are period..."


"Is almond or walnut oil period?"


Almond oil and sesame oil were used for cooking, though they show up mostly in

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean sources.  I have seen other kinds of nut and

seed oils in Spanish recipes for cosmetics.  The Manual de Mugeres has a

recipe for hand & face pomade, which calls for the following oils, in addition

to lard and wax:

sweet almonds

bitter almonds

peach seed

melon seed

poppy seed


The same source also mentions sesame oil and masticin other recipes (for

cosmetic use).


I don't offhand recall seeing a mention of walnut oil in period sources, but

as walnuts are frequently mentioned, I think it likely that someone was

extracting oil from them.


Brighid ni Chiarain



To: SCA Newcomers list <scanewcomers at yahoogroups.com>

Subject: Re: Help please - cosmetic information

Posted by: "Stefan li Rous" stefanlirous at austin.rr.com stefanlirous

Date: Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:42 pm ((PDT))


Lady Merwyn asked:

<<< I am doing a talk on Saturday about cosmetics in the middle ages  

and have found very little on Lipstick / lip colour.


I have one recipe from Cleopatra and another that Elizabeth 1 used but  

nothing for the common people.  Stefan's florilegium has been  

brilliant for a lot of stuff but not this.>>>


<<< Anyone have anything with source / reference it would be greatly  




"The Artifice of Beauty: A History and Practical Guide to Perfumes and  


Pointer, Sally

ISBN: 0-7509-3887-0

Sutton Publishing




THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

   Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org