Bridgerton: must-know beauty tips for Regency ladies

Bridgerton: must-know beauty tips for Regency ladies

They could not have worn the make-up proven within the TV collection, however girls of the period would have adopted printed recommendation says Lisa SmithBy Lisa Smith

We’ve all change into accustomed to historic inaccuracies in interval TV exhibits (together with Bridgerton) however followers of Regency-inspired romance fantasy can’t appear to recover from the trendy beauty strategies on present. Acrylic nails, pretend lashes and ‘BOTOX’, screamed a current headline in The Daily Mail.

Modern beauty magazines are stuffed with tips and methods to increase, improve or conceal. Young ladies from the Regency period (1811-1820) have been additionally involved in beauty recommendation, however their routine was a bit totally different from ours.

Across Europe, younger ladies and their moms have been bombarded with beauty recommendation from physicians, perfumers and moralists alike. For early Nineteenth-century debutantes, the heavy software of cosmetics, generally related to the mid-18th century, had change into passé. A pure look was the most well liked new beauty development.

True beauty, these ladies of the ton (trendy society) have been informed, got here from cleanliness, relatively than within the make-up aisles of some Nineteenth-century equal of Sephora or Boots.

Regency recipe and recommendation books usually included tips for skincare relatively than cosmetics. Natural beauty, medical writers made clear, started with good well being. Health got here from common train (strolling or using), moderation in eating regimen and cleanliness. Clean pores and skin had ethical implications.

It is prostitutes that may have worn make up, not members of the ton

According to medical writers of the time, clear pores and skin signalled good well being, which in flip advised potential fertility – a serious preoccupation within the marriage mart. This emphasis on pores and skin was set towards the backdrop of excessive charges of venereal illness, significantly in London the place an estimated 20 per cent of the inhabitants contracted syphilis earlier than the age of 35. Syphilis might be congenital, that means that even a chaste younger woman may be affected. Skin issues have been a fundamental symptom of syphilis.

There have been different causes for younger girls to keep away from cosmetics. A preferred recommendation handbook, Mirror of the Graces, which was written beneath the pseudonym of A Lady of Distinction in 1811, recognized two issues. Many face paints contained poisons, comparable to lead, which might spoil your pores and skin or trigger sickness. But a painted face additionally made it troublesome to see the reality of your thoughts and feelings, concealing because it did the delicate shifts in pores and skin color.

Of the forms of cosmetics obtainable – lacquered lips, face powder, eyebrow colouring and rouge – solely rouge was acceptable, after which provided that a younger girl was ailing or anxious.

The Lady of Distinction supplied “wholesome” strategies to encourage pure beauty. These might be made at house or by an apothecary, and even bought at varied outlets. The really helpful beauty therapies included hair and face washes; lip balms and lotions; scented waters; therapies for blemishes, sunburns, tans or freckles; and strategies of eradicating wrinkles or firming up the pores and skin. The components weren’t low cost, together with issues like spermaceti (whale sperm), benzoin (tree resin) and ambergris (waxy substance from the digestive system of sperm whales). The price of pure beauty might be excessive.

Chapped fingers? Paste of Palermo was a cleaning soap that smoothed and guarded with its combination of cleaning soap, salad oil (softening), lemon juice (additional lather), silver sand (exfoliating) and fragrance (scent).

Sunburn from an excessive amount of train? Try fard, a helpful paste of candy almonds, spermaceti and honey.

Dull pores and skin from too many late nights? A water to present lustre to the face included wheat bran, eggs and ambergris.

Need rosy cheeks? Try virgin milk, a tincture of benzoin (a tree resin) and spirits of wine to tug the blood into your cheeks and make them rosy. It additionally smelled good and might be used on pimples and different pores and skin issues.

Lips dry and pale? A lip salve of marrow, spermaceti, raisins, alcanna root and balsam of Peru ought to soften them, whereas offering a vermilion tint.

Young girls didn’t the place cosmetics as they might disguise modifications in feelings

Bridgerton, curiously, depicts the elite younger ladies as carrying cosmetics (eye shadow and blush) and the prostitutes as clear-skinned and cosmetic-free. The reverse would have been true in Regency England, on condition that prostitutes have been thought to have a lot to hide: venereal illness and dissolute dwelling.

The mild eye shadow (and strong-looking acrylic nails) worn by the younger ladies in Bridgerton will not be traditionally correct, however could as an alternative signify that they took explicit care of their look. The prolonged skincare practices of the Regency interval are difficult to seize on display. The cleanliness of the prostitutes, nevertheless, suggests their very own clear well being standing and the Bridgerton males’s relative security in visiting them.

For Regency ladies, good pores and skin was about rather more than simply skin-deep beauty. Good pores and skin was a visual signal of 1’s well being, fertility and morals.

Lisa Smith is Senior Lecturer in History, University of Essex. This article is republished from The Conversation beneath a Creative Commons licence

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