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handcream-msg - 4/17/08


Medieval lotions and handcreams. recipes.


NOTE: See also the files: Handcream-art, perfumes-msg, cosmetics-msg, soap-msg, hair-msg, jewelry-msg, p-medicine-msg, gloves-msg, bathing-msg, mirrors-msg.





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: "Morgan E. Smith" <mesmith at freenet.calgary.ab.ca>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Medieval handcream

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 08:07:42 -0700

Organization: Calgary Free-Net


I'm so excited! I made handcream and I just have to share it with




4 Tblsp. beeswax, grated

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup olive oil, infused with red clover

1/2 cup distilled water, infused with orange peels overnight



Melt the beeswax and oil together in a double boiler (we used a metal bowl

over a large pot of water). Heat the strained distilled water and add to

the oil mixture. Stir constantly over a moderate to low heat until mixture

begins to "cream". Remove from heat and continue to stir until mixture has

completely emulsified (integrated) the water, and continue stirrring until

cool. You can, if the orange aroma is not as pronounced as you would like,

add a drop or two of orange essential oil. Or you can omit the orange

peels and clover, and add other essential oils as per your own desires.


To infuse the olive oil with red clover, take some dried clover plants and

pour some heated olive oil over them. Cover and allow to sit for several




McLaughlin, Terence    "The Guilded Lily"  London,Cassell,1972


Balsam,M.S. and Sagarin,Edward,eds.   "Cosmetics:Science and Technology"

John Wiley and Sons,Inc.  New York,1972


Corson,Richard "Fashions in Makeup,from Ancient to Modern Times"

Peter Owen Limited,  London,1972


It was actually pretty easy, although the stirring takes a long time.


Morgan the Unknown



Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 12:14:31 -0700 (PDT)

From: Christiane <christianetrue at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Hand cream

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


At last, a question I know I can answer!


Here is my period hand cream redaction. I learned it as a volunteer at  

Pennsbury Manor, a 17th century historic site, and in doing some  

research found Elizabethan versions. It's an oil and beeswax handcream,  

the oil is steeped in fresh roses, and rosewater is used to "whiten"  

and mix the oil and wax together.


My hand cream was made this way:


For the oil of roses, take 2 or so pounds of fresh, strong-smelling  

roses. I gather mine from my apothecary, my Tudor, and my damask rose  

bushes. Stuff some of the roses into a covered crockery pot,  pour  

in some olive oil, add some more roses, pour in some more oil, until  

the jar is stuffed absolutely full. Place in the sun,  covered with a  

loose crockery lid, for a week, or place the jar in a pan of hot water.  

Strain the oil through muslin, discarding the pulped rose goop, and  

place the oil in a brown glass bottle. This can keep for quite awhile  

in the refrigerator.


For the cream take a couple of ounces of the oil, 2 or so of yellow  

beeswax, and melt the beeswax in the oil over a double boiler. When the  

wax is just melted, pour the oil-wax mixture into a ceramic bowl inset  

into another bowl partly filled with cold water. Add rosewater in a  

steady stream, beating the mixture with a small spatula until I judged  

the mixture thick/thin enough and cannot absorb any more rosewater (you  

can pour the excess off). I then add four drops of lavender essential  

oil, two drops of rosemary essential oil, and 12 or so drops of orange  

blossom essential oil, beating well between each mixture. Other good  

essential oil additions could be tuberose, rose (if you have the real  

deal), thyme, and bergamot.


Here are period recipes for the Oyntment of Roses:


> From the Widowes Treasure, printed by Edward Alde for Edward White  

> 1588 at London.


To make the Oyntment of Roses

Take oyle of roses foure ounces, white waxe one ounce, melte them  

together over seething water, then chafe them together with Rosewater  

and a little white vinegar.


John Partridge, The Treasurie of Hidden Secrets and Commodious  

Conceits, 1586


To Make Oyntment of Roses

Take oyle of Roses four ounces, white wax one ounce, melt them together  

over seething water, then chafe them together with Rose-water and a  

little white vinegar.


This recipe by Alethea Talbot, printed in Natura Exenterata,  is  

out-of-period by 1655. but it was the only citation I could find for  

what Oyl of Roses was.  I assume when she says "leaves," we would say  



To make Oyl of roses.

Take a pound and half of red Rose leaves, cut away the whites, and

stamp them small, and put them in a glasse or earthen pot; put

thereto a quart of Oyl Olive; and let the glasse be full of Oyl and

leaves within an inch of the top, then stop it close with paste, that

no air come into it, and set the glasse in a pot full of Water, as high

as the Oyl is, and no higher; and set the glasse fast that it fal not,

with some Hay under it at that it break not, and let it seeth in the

pot til the water be half wasted; then take the pot from the fire, and

let the glasse stand in it without removing til it be cold, afterward

take out the glas and pour out the Oyl, and put it in another glas,

and put fresh rose leaves to it. This manner is to be observed in

making Oyl of all other Herbs.





Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 12:30:25 -0400

From: "Sharon Gordon" <gordonse at one.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Skin creams

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Does anyone have recipes for skin creams that you can use starting in your

20s and have your skin still look good 50 years later?


I have seen a few recipes for creams such as

Olive oil and beeswax wth clover, orange peel oil, lavender, or rose oil

which seemed designed mostly for enriching dry skin and providing a nice



I've enjoyed the various discussions on the bruise healing creams aka

fighter creams.


And I've seen ones with mercury andlead  designed to create clear light

smooth skin which I'm not planning to try!


Also I've read Constance de LaRose's global summary of cream  


but haven't been able to find the second part of article with the  



"Herbs 99%

il or oils of some kind 98%

Wax 82%

Water (plain or infused) 80%

Vinegar 49%

Urine 32%

Lead 28%

Mercury 25%

Dung 20%"


She found recipes in:

Gerard's Herball (1633)

Culpeper's Herbal  (1638)

Culpeper's Physicians Booke  (1633)

The Recipes of the Physician College of England (1633)

The Writings of Pliny the Elder  (approx. 41 AD)

Mrs. Grieves Herbal  (1927)

Markhams English Huswife (1537)

John Baptista Porta's Book of Natural Magick  (1638)

Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery (1550-1625 or so?)


Which of these (or would you suggest other books?) should I get first on

interlibrary loan that would have the best and most recipes devoted to skin






Date: September 15, 2004 1:09:58 PM CDT

To: SCA-Herbalist at yahoogroups.com

From: gianottadallafiora <christianetrue at earthlink.net>

Mailing-List: list SCA-Herbalist at yahoogroups.com; contact SCA-Herbalist-owner at yahoogroups.com

Subject: [SCA-Herbalist] Re: Rosewater creams in period


I was taught this recipe orally by Jeannine Vannais, who used to run the herbal programs and gardens at Pennsbury Manor. This is the recreation of William Penn's country home in Bucks County, Pa., dating from the late 1680s. I believe this recipe came from Hannah Penn's receipt book, which Pennsbury has copies of (I think the original is kept at the state historical society in Pittsburgh).


Anyway, how I did it, and how Jeannine redacted it ...


To create the infused oil, take fresh roses, of the more fragranced variety (damask, Tudor, apothecary roses, or even a really fragrant tea rose). Take your roses, put a layer in a ceramic crock, cover with mild almond or olive oil, add more roses, cover with more oil, etc., until the crock is full. Sit the crock out in the sun for a few days to a week. Then strain the glop through a linen bag; suspend the bag from a hook above a bowl, and once it stops dripping, squeeze it to get the last of the oil out. This is messy, but leaves your hands nice and soft <g>.


You'll get a fairly large amount of oil out of this; put it in brown glass bottles and if you're not using it right away, stick it in your refrigerator.


To make the cream:


Take about a cup of the oil, and set it to warm in a double boiler. Use an enameled pot rather than steel or aluminum. Put in the oil 2 ounces or so of beeswax. White refined beeswax gives a whiter cream, but the yellow beeswax smells better, in my opinion, plus it's more period. Keep the heat on the double boiler low, you don't want the oil to bubble or scorch. Keep in mind the more beeswax you use, the stiffer your cream will be. I found about two-three ounces works pretty well. Once the beeswax has just melted into the oil, take the mixture and pour it into a metal or ceramic bowl whose bottom is set into another bowl partly filled with cold water. Then take your rosewater and pour it in a steady stream into the oil/wax mixture, mixing it briskly with a whisk or a small rubber spatula. The cream will solidify and turn whitish as the rosewater is added to it. When the cream is the thickness or thinness you desire, stop adding rosewater.


Add your essential oils to taste, mixing thoroughly. I added five drops of lavender oil, three drops of rosemary, and 13 drops of orange blossom. If you were to use it on your face, I would use rosemary and thyme, or leave it unscented. When I did this with Jeannine, we left it unscented.


Store this cream in a cool place, in brown glass jars or ceramic jars; I have some at work in a little jar on my desk.




--- In SCA-Herbalist at yahoogroups.com, "Misha" <ssithgoddess at h...> wrote:

> I would love to see those recipes you used! They sound heavenly!


> Misha

>   ----- Original Message -----

<<<   I'm looking for a period citation or recipes of beeswax/oil/rosewater creams. I just made up a batch from a 17th century recipe (with addition scents of lavender, rosemary, and orange blossom essential oils). I used yellow beeswax, olive oil I had steeped with Tudor and damask roses, and Turkish rosewater. I now have two jars of cream that I probably would have had to pay Burt's Bees $20 each, LOL Now that I've figured out how easy it is to do this, I am making my own stuff from now on!


Gianotta >>>


<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