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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
I Am always a bit amused when anathemas are hurled at the present use of cosmetics, particularly when a hopelessly-soured and pitilessly-unattractive female or a blatant, tobacco-smoking, spirituouslyodorous male addresses me on the subject. I read from time to time of the untold millions we women are spending annually for our paints and powders, and of all the good we might do were we not so given over to vanity and deceit. I have been assured by men who should know, if experience go for anything, that no good woman at any time of the world ever painted her face. I have had Jezebel thrown at me with a pertinent verse of Scripture attached, and with such spite that one would think I personally am accountable for that most trying woman and had given her the formulas for the paints and eye darkeners she adorned herself with before going out to the capture of King Jehu.
As a matter of actual fact, whatever one's opinion may be as to the morale of the question, cosmetics have been used both by good and bad women as far back as we can learn anything of the personal customs of the sex, just as wine has been drunk by priests and sots, by gentlemen and cads, and will be used and abused so long as men and wine exist.
I am not an advocate of indiscriminate painting of the face, of hair dyeing or bleaching, because all are usually unpleasant and perceptibly artificial and unbecoming in their results, but I certainly think a woman should be her own judge in the matter, and the subject is one she is entirely competent to study for herself without masculine interference or dictation. Moreover, I never knew a woman who, if she chose, could not deceive the keenest eye of man on this point. It is always another woman who first tells a man that her sister uses artificial color or stains her hair.
There are times in a woman's life, when, if she be wise, she will attempt to repair the damage of years and care. When a wife sees a haggard-looking ghost of herself reflected from her mirror, when perhaps she is painfully conscious that the eyes she loves best are turning from her faded beauty to a less worthy object, then I think she is not only justified in delicately simulating, by every aid known to cosmetic art, the charms she has lost, but she is stupid not to do so. It is the plain, unadorned, weary and too natural woman whose husband invariably falls a victim to the wiles of a Delilah, or succumbs to the artificial charms of a Jezebel. The very man who will almost fall in a fit at the sight of toilet powder in his wife's dressing room, will break her heart and waste his substance in the worship of a peroxide or regenerator Titianred blonde.
Let a premium be placed on sallow-faced, pale-lipped, dull, thin-haired women in the devotion and loyalty of the other sex, and the trade of the, cosmetic artist will soon become a matter of ancient history.
The question is then: "Shall we use cosmetics, and when ? " After she has passed her thirtieth birthday every woman must answer this for herself. It is the veriest nonsense for any one to assume that a good woman has never used paint and powder. You and I have only to go back to our ancestors to discover that not so many generations away, our grandmammas rouged, powdered and wore patches, fine, virtuous and splendid they were indeed, and some of them were even of that magnificent band of heroines who superbly walked to the scaffold--martyrs to their patriotism and high principles. Paint and powder did not make. them less virtuous because they were in common usage.
Without undertaking to discuss the question of cosmetics from any moral standpoint at all, I give it as my personal opinion that it is the greatest of mistakes for a girl or woman under thirty, except in unusual cases, to resort to the practice, even to the extent of using a facepowder.
My reason for this opinion is that all cosmetics are unbecoming to youthful faces, and that artifice jars upon us when associated with the springtime of life.
After thirty-well, it all depends. Some women retain a youthful and lovely complexion even long after the fiftieth birthday ; but the excitement, the tension of modern life, the wear and tear of maternity, the never-ending grind of society, all are potent factors in robbing our American beauty of her bloom, and they give her frequently a haggard sort of pallor which quite destroys her fine appearance.
Women are like flowers and beautiful out-of-door pictures-all delicacy and grace, with an atmosphere of spring or summer or autumn emanating from them-each lovely at its appropriate time, that is, when they are as Nature intended them.
The faded little wife in her really touching effort to retain her husband's admiration or to win him from an unworthy rival, may with safety use the least little bit of finest powder for her face; she may carefully brush the delicate eyebrows after the slightest possible touch of vaseline to restore their luster. She may bathe her lips with an aromatic toilet water, which will bring the color to them, so that when she smiles her rather wan, little face will be transfigured by the contrast between the pretty lips and the entrancing row of double pearls. She should attend to every point of herself with scrupulous exactness. Every part of her dress should be irreproachable, for nothing so accentuates fading beauty as carelessness.
The cosmetics here referred to are about all that can be safely used and imperceptibly, for daylight, and, with a veil selected for its becoming spots, the result will be an appearance of freshness most attractive. But in any case, a sweet and modest woman should be careful to an extreme degree in using artificial expedients during the daytime. The manifestly made-up woman is too atrocious a blot on the landscape to even discuss.
At night, for the home-dinner, as well as for opera and ball, the artificial light makes it possible for a woman to literally put on her war paint, and the makeup here suggested is intended for evening and to bear the glare of electric lights.
Instead of an enamel, which always gives the face a porcelain look, a delicate liquid powder is first applied to the face, neck and arms. This preparation is called the liquid whitener. It is made as follows:
Water, previously boiled and strained....1 quart.
Take 4 ounces of water and heat it to boiling point; dissolve the bichloride of mercury in this hot water; add the alcohol. Mix the zinc and glycerine together in a bowl; pour the larger portion of the quart of water in; stir, then add the diluted bichloride of mercury and alcohol. Bottle and shake always before using. Apply the liquid with a small, soft, velvet sponge. This liquid should be wiped off with a chamois skin before it has had time to dry, or it will appear streaky.
No woman can do this for herself. If the wash be evenly spread and dried properly, it is really imperceptible. There is a danger in doing it without assistance of missing ever so small a section of the skin, and this is fatal.
A little color for the cheeks (the finest French rouge powder or liquid should be used for this purpose), the slightest touch of the eyebrow pencil to the eyelids and eyebrows, a faint addition to the color of the lips, stolen from a stick of French grenadine, as it is called, and, last of all, a very little powder (formula for which I give) all applied in the strongest glare of daylight-this sort of make-up is positively imperceptible at night, and is, beyond question, wonderfully becoming.
Finest cornstarch....1 ounce.
Mix thoroughly and sift through very fine bolting silk ; reject all that remains in the bolting ; sift the second time through another bit of bolting silk; perfume with three drops of oil of roses.
It is very difficult to make a satisfactory rouge at home. I give formulas, but I must say the ingredients are frequently adulterated or of inferior quality. Therefore I advise the imported article.
FORMULA FOR ROUGE
Finely bolted talc . 4 ounces. Carmine....2 drachms.
Make a solution of gum tragacanth and warm water-a very little only is required. Mix the talc and carmine first well together, and sift ; add enough of the diluted gum tragacanth to form into a smooth paste ; allow it to dry; apply with a hare's foot to the face.
The eyebrow pencil may be purchased from any dealer in toilet articles. It is made in three shades-black, dark brown and blond.
Liquid rouge, if of a very fine quality, may be used, in preference to the rouge fard. It is made by dissolving pure rouge (carthamin), which is acidulated with a solution of acetic acid.