cosmetics-msg - 5/13/10
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).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)
Date: 25 Oct 1993 14:49:38 -0400
>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)
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.
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 16:04:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: "The Household of..." <macbetha1s1 at hotmail.com>
To: SCA-ARTS at UKANS.EDU
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
From: KATHARINE WHISLER <KWHISLER at kentlaw.edu>
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.
Here is some information from a book I have studied that might help you
_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
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.
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?
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. :)
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
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
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
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:
The same source also mentions sesame oil and masticin other recipes (for
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
THLord Stefan li Rous Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mark S. Harris Austin, Texas StefanliRous at austin.rr.com