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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
I am not going to tell you of anything new in the "how-to-be-beautiful" line, but I am going to describe a process which, like everything else, apparently originated with the Greeks thousands of years before this continent was dreamed of.
"The dear Greeks and Romans," as Miss Blimber used to say, with so much emotion, how much we owe them-especially how much am I indebted to these clever ones of antiquity. Every time I hear of something new, some very latest invention in the way of cosmetic art, I feel certain that I shall find myself presently mentally kotowing to a Greek contemporary of Hippocrates. For that was about the time the cosmetic art and the " how-to-be-beautiful "business.flourished as it has never done since. They used to deceive me, these moderns with their discoveries, but they do so no longer. For some years of study-years of exploration and recognition of the depths of my own ignorance-have made a Foxy Quiller of me on this one subject.
Now, face skinning, as it is practiced at this date, is a process to take or leave alone, as you choose. Personally, I leave it alone. But there are those who may wish to embrace the opportunity to have their faces skinned, and this is a free country.
Mark you, face skinning is vaunted as the means of securing eternal youth. And youth! What the woman who realizes a11 its loss means to her will not suffer in an attempt to get it, or an imitation of it back ! The process is one of excruciating pain. I consider it attended also with a certain amount of danger.
The patient who is to be skinned takes board for a week or two or three with the professional skinner. Then she pays for her board and torture in advance. She pays from $300 to $500, which is honestly not too high. A prohibitive price is, on occasions, a virtue. Next the skinnee takes a seat in a big operating chair, and the skinner, after bathing her client's face in a solution, we will say, of salicylic acid-other acids would be just as effectivewets a sponge attached to an electrode, with the same solution, which is in turn attached to an electric battery and, turning the current on, passes this sponge over the skinnee's countenance.
The application of an irritant powerful enough to produce an inflammation as that which follows this first treatment savors rather of the inquisition of our late friends, the Spaniards, but no one is obliged to undergo it.
If it pay a woman to be skinned, let the merry art go on, say I.
The first stage of the process concluded, the patientand here the term is no misnomer-finds herself with a visage which resembles raw beef. The skinnee's face is now decorated with surgeon's plaster, which is laid on in strips up and down and crosswise, until the entire surface is covered.
Days and nights of agony of a large and generous kind are now liberally bestowed upon the subject who is wrestling so valiantly with Time. Anodynes are given to make the pain endurable. For active suppuration must ensue before the plasters can be removed, before the three skins that are to come away can be literally eaten off, and this part of the performance is no jest.
The suppuration of the whole face requires about a week's time, and is truly wonderful and awe inspiring. During this time the skinnee subsists on liquids taken through a glass tube. She cannot speak or open her mouth, which is perhaps a qualified blessing.
Talk about grit! There never was anything approaching the pluck of the lady skinnee.
When the suppuration ceases, the plaster begins to loosen. It comes only in bits, bringing with it the destroyed cuticle, which looks like an old parchment.
The "patient" now shows a face just the color of a newborn infant's-just as red, and without a line. Three months later the redness has disappeared, and a skin of delicate texture, white and transparent, is the result.
There is no question as to the improvement in appearance, if one consider the face of a woman of sixty devoid of every trace of a line of thought or experience an im provement upon the countenances that tell of self-sacrifice, patience, and courage.
The woman past maturity without a line in her face is, in my opinion, as stupid as a country without a history. But there be those who do not share my views. Hence, without malice or prejudice I say:
Face skinning is not now a novelty. Your old friend Galen knew all about it.
It has been revived successfully, and is a marketable commodity. As the push-cart vender just beneath my window shouted a moment ago:
"You takes it or you leaves it according to what you thinks."