Independence Day is upon us - a day of celebration here in America. In honor of this holiday - why not forgo the modern beauty trends and doll yourself up as a 1776 babe instead?
The Colonial lady prized smooth, pale skin without any marks or freckles. Washes including ingredients such as strawberries, wine, spirits and vinegars were used to keep skin clear and porcelain.
STRAWBERRY WINE CLEANSER
2 large strawberries
1 T white wine
Mash the strawberries and mix with the wine. Massage into damp skin, remove with a warm, damp cloth and splashes of lukewarm water. Follow with a spritz of rosewater, followed by a dab of floral balm massaged into skin (see below).
This treatment does double duty as a cleanser and mild exfoliant. While enjoying it, I also suggest pouring yourself a glass of the wine. ;)
2 parts hog's lard (Don't have hog's lard on hand? Although it is not period correct, you can also substitute coconut oil)
1 part beeswax
Rosewater, lavender water OR a few drops lavender essential oil
Melt the lard (or oil) and beeswax. When cool, slightly thick and almost opaque, quickly whisk in a few splashes of rosewater or a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. Transfer to a clean, airtight jar and use within 1-2 weeks. You can also play with the consistency by using more/less of each ingredient. This balm can be used all over the body.
Now that your skin is fresh and dewy - you can apply your cosmetics. Colonial American women did not wear quite as much makeup as their counterparts over in Europe, but did follow the current trend of dark eyes and dark hair. Dark hair could be achieved by dying it with vinegar and walnut hulls. Eyebrows were darkened with a mixture of charred cork and cloves.
The white lead-laden face paint, popularized in the 1700s to give the appearance of pale skin, was no longer advised in Colonial America, as it was becoming apparent that it was a health hazard. It was however, still worn. Accounts of dizziness, nausea and headaches were frequent from this cosmetic.
A pinch of the cheeks went a long way to giving a healthy, rosy glow. And continuous bites of the lips during the day were the original lip plumpers, followed by a swipe of beet juice for color.
Oh, wait - do you have an unsightly spot?
Cover it up with a mouche - a small patch made of leather, fabric or paper that was stuck using a resin to cover up blemishes and scars of all manner (including smallpox). These little patches were kept in decorative boxes to keep at-the-ready. Mouches came in several shapes - stars, moons, hearts and the like and were sometimes placed strategically to show political allegiances, marital status or personality traits.
Interestingly, Chanel brought back the mouche at a fashion show just a few years ago.
We haven't mentioned anything about bathing yet, because bathing was not a frequent thing. Rather they used perfumes and powders to get that "fresh feeling."
LAVENDER ROSE POWDER
Fill an airtight container with cornstarch and mix in dried, crushed lavender and rose petals. Allow to sit for a few weeks to infuse the powder. Grind the mixture fine with a mortar and pestle (ok, ok - a coffee grinder) and apply as needed.
Your skin is clear and smooth, your hair and brows ebony and you smell of hog's lard and flowers. Now, throw on your powdered wig, your sunhat and flip flops and enjoy this 4th of July!