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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
I know and therefore maintain that women may keep their good looks and manage to defeat time at something like a sum within the reach of the average "little sisters of the rich." Yes, indeed, and I propose to tell you how.
Any woman, I do not care who she is - how modest her circumstances, nor, to put it broadly, what her age, can, by a little care and the practice of the necessary rules which are the price of perfect physical beauty, practically defy the years to come, and, moreover, she can collect the interest due her on the years that have been defrauding her up to date. She can, to a great extent, get back the youth she has lost.
First of all, we must bear in mind that "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." So far as good looks go I will not say it discounts in its results physically the practice of all the other virtues-but, to my thinking, one must be clean before one can be really good. Dirt and religion do not blend. As our cook says when the sauces fail to mix smoothly, they "kind of cruddle." Now to be clean means to scrub-yes, from head to foot every blessed day of one's life. "Slavery!" you may say. So it is; but most of us are slaves to one habit or another, and the bondage of soap and water is a blessing disguised. I will guarantee the transformation of a plain, sallow-faced, badcomplexioned woman, into a wholesome, rosy, bright-eyed daughter of the gods, within the period of six months, if she will follow my advice and the rules I take the liberty of prescribing.
First of all, then, must come the daily bath taken in a tub with a good scrub from head to feet, including the face.
The road to beauty was known to the Greek and Roman women hundreds of years ago. They did not begin to have the resources in cosmetic arts that we have now, but they understood thoroughly the two vital points in the pursuit of comeliness and cleanliness and health. To this end they bathed very frequently.
In, a vague way every one supposedly knows how to take a bath. But how many women in a thousand know just what a real hygienic bath means, and how to take it?
The great secret of beauty and comfort is in the health-giving bath, taken at least once each day.
The water should not be too warm and should be made cooler by adding cold water toward the end of the bath, so that the temperature is a little below what we call tepid before the bather leaves the tub.
It is not enough to jump into the water and dabble over the body with a sponge or wash cloth.
The skin each day is loaded with the solid matters which are the residue of the perspiration, or with its own oily egudations. Unless these accumulations are daily re moved by water, soap, and friction, the channels become choked and the secretions, unable to dislodge themselves, produce inflammation, which we call pimples, or present us with stubborn cases of hateful blackheads.
Every woman should possess a flesh brush for the body, as well as a camel's hair face-scrubbing brush. Constantly women tell me they cannot afford to pay for such luxuries. At the same time they will patronize bargain counters, and appear in public staggering under the flowers, birds, and feathers of an overtowering hat. The camel's-hair face-scrubbing brush before mentioned is especially manufactured for the purpose, and costs at retail one dollar and twenty-five cents, It measures about six inches in length and five across. The wooden back is unvarnished, and the bristles are white and firm, but soft. It is easily obtainable at the larger drug stores.
Use a pure soap. Just bear in mind that no soap, particularly if largely advertised, can be made of safe and healing ingredients and be startlingly cheap. If your soap is good-made of pure vegetable oils, and fit to use onthe face,, it will have to cost, at retail, not less than twenty-five cents. It cannot be manufactured and sold at a lower price.
It does sometimes happen, even in these days of comfort for the middle classes, that it is not possible to take a bath in the large tub. But at least every household is equipped with washtubs, and even one of these is better than none at all.
Bathing in hard water is apt to make the skin coarse. Rain water makes a delicious bath, and when that is not to be obtained the water may be softened by throwing into it a small bag of bran. Even a bag containing a pound of ordinary yellow cornmeal will take the harshness away.
Don't be afraid to use soap. Make a good lather on the brush and scrub away. Begin with the face and use a pure hygienic soap with the camel's-hair face-scrubbing brush. Any good, pure soap is all that is required for the body. Save the expensive soap for the face alone, and one cake will last a long time.
A quick all-over scrub and a thorough rinsing with clear water will take about twenty minutes of each twenty-four hours. You cannot spend the time more profitably.
The opinion that a hot bath is enervating is erroneous. On the contrary, a quick hot bath is exhilarating. A tepid bath is relaxing, and induces reposeful, health-giving sleep.
It is not well to bathe within two hours after eating. The friction oŁ a good flesh brush rouses and accelerates the circulation and prevents the gradually decreasing energy of the circulation which accompanies age and hastens death.
Sea bathing at the proper season is the most invigorating of baths and of wonderful value in strengthening the nervous system, but I am bound to say the sea bath does not improve the complexion.