View previous topic | View next topic

Embellishments - cosmetics

Page 1 of 1

155357.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:34 am Reply with quote

From Ancient Greek κοσμητική (kosmetike) "the art of dress and ornament", from κοσμητής (kosmetes) "orderer, director, decorator", from κοσμέω (kosmeo) "to order, to arrange, to rule, to adorn, to equip, to dress, to embellish".

Cosmetics, that is.

The following have been, or still are, used in facial cosmetics:

Clay - as a base
Ants - as a base (from Cleopatra's book - see below)
Arsenic - (Ibid)
Herring scales - as a pearlescent for lips, eyelids
cells from the nervous systems of cattle - Cerebrosides to increase skin moisture
Rust - iron oxide in lipstick
Rhubarb - for dying hair
Beetles - crushed cochinneal for red colours
Urine - for dying hair (uric acid)
Mercury - in rouges and lipstick, especially sulphides in 'vermillion'.
Botulism - Botox
Ceruse (lead, acetic acid) for whitening face-powder
Sulphur - as a colour mixer
Tin -
Fish glue

Cleopatra had a cosmetic recipe book, which Galen quoted from occasionally:
"For bald patches, powder red sulphuret of arsenic and take it up with oak gum, as much as it will bear. Put on a rag and apply, having soaped the place well first. I have mixed the above with a foam of nitre, and it worked well."

Several other receipts follow, ending with: "The following is the best of all, acting for fallen hairs, when applied with oil or pomatum; acts also for falling off of eyelashes or for people getting bald all over. It is wonderful. Of domestic mice burnt, one part; of vine rag burnt, one part; of horse's teeth burnt, one part; of bear's grease one; of deer's marrow one; of reed bark one. To be pounded when dry, and mixed with plenty of honey til it gets the consistency of honey; then the bear's grease and marrow to be mixed (when melted), the medicine to be put in a brass flask, and the bald part rubbed til it sprouts."

In Rome people put barley flour and butter on their pimples,
and sheepís fat and blood on their fingernails for polish. They took
mud baths. Men frequently dyed their hair blond.

The name belladonna originates from the historic use by women (Bella Donna is Italian for beautiful lady) to dilate their pupils; an extract of belladonna was used as eye drops as part of their makeup preparations. The Belladonna toxin's atropine content had the effect of dilating the pupil, thus making their eyes supposedly more attractive.

It is now known that atropine has anticholinergic activity - by blocking the ability of the iris to constrict, mydriasis results. Dilated pupils are considered more attractive (especially with females) because pupils normally dilate when a person is aroused, thus making eye contact much more intense than it already is. It had the adverse effect of making their vision a little blurry and making their heart rates increase. Prolonged usage was reputed to cause blindness.

In one well-known case, Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the "Tin Man" in the The Wizard of Oz. Aluminium dust was used to create a tin effect. As the result of an allergic reaction, he was hospitalized and Jack Haley replaced him. Aluminium dust was, instead, added to a paste.

The first trademarked deodorant product, Mum cream, was launched in 1888 as zinc chloride in a waxy base. The first antiperspirant product, using aluminium chloride in water, was launched in 1903 under the trade name Everdry.

Yes, the Celts and Picts (such as they were) mixed woad berries with urine to make the paint with which to mark eldritch sigils upon their persons, and to frighten the crap out of the enemy. Apparently they also spiked their hair with lime.

It may be in use soon as a printer ink (and despite what it says at the bottom of this article, woad has no hallucinogenic properties): promises a 'woad page' here, so someone with a subscription please:

"In 1577 the German government officially prohibited the use of indigo, denouncing it as that pernicious, deceitful and corrosive substance, the Devil's dye."
(Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 17, No. 100, April, 1876.)

Recently, scientists have discovered woad might be used to prevent cancer, having more than 20 times the amount of glucobrassicin contained in broccoli.[4] Young leaves when damaged can produce more glucobrassicin, up to 65 times as much.

Elizabethan: (good quotes at the bottom of that page)

Probably tie this in with an 'Elizabeth' thread...

155386.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:47 pm Reply with quote

So has our fox been slightly shot on the woad front?

155387.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:53 pm Reply with quote

Curiously enough, the use of cosmetics fell entirely out of fashion in late-19th century Europe:

Throughout the history of cosmetics there have also been numerous attempts to prohibit women from painting their faces - and not only for moral or religious reasons. The Greek theologian Clement of Alexandria championed a law in the second century to prevent women from tricking husbands into marriage by means of cosmetics, and as late as 1770, Draconian legislation was introduced in the British Parliament (subsequently defeated) demanding "that women who shall seduce or betray into matrimony, by scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair shall incur the penalty of the law as against witchcraft."

By the late 19th century, rouge, facial powder, and lipstick - 6,000-year-old make up staples enjoyed by men and women - had almost disappeared in Europe. During this lull, a fashion magazine of the day observed: "Now and then a misguided women tints her cheeks to replace the flow of youth and health. The artificiality of the effect is apparent to everyone and calls attention to that which the person most desired to conceal. It hardly seems likely that a time will ever come again in which rouge and lip paint will be employed." That was in 1880. Cosmetics used by stage actresses were home-made as they had been for centuries. But towards the closing years of the century, a complete revival in the use of cosmetics occurred, spearheaded by the French.

155388.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:55 pm Reply with quote

Is anybody concerned that the E connection is a bit tenuous and that this topic seems not to fit any of the metathemes? Anyway, worry about that later.

155389.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:56 pm Reply with quote

Thomas Hall, an English pastor and author of the "Loathsomeness of Long Haire" (1653), led a movement declaring that face painting was "the devil's work" and that women who put brush to mouth were trying to "ensnare others and to kindle a fire and flame of lust in the hearts of those who cast their eyes upon them." In 1770, the British Parliament passed a law condemning lipstick, stating that "women found guilty of seducing men into matrimony by a cosmetic means could be tried for witchcraft."

(According to Meg Cohen Ragas and Karen Kozlowski in their book, Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick)

155390.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 1:02 pm Reply with quote

Is anybody concerned

Yes - me. Although I trust our ingenuity implicitly.

155393.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 1:25 pm Reply with quote

Gray, what is the source for this:

Yes, the Celts and Picts (such as they were) mixed woad berries with urine to make the paint with which to mark eldritch sigils upon their persons

I'm thinking our fox is still just about alive, maybe limping slightly. I don't see anything in the OP which authoritatively disagrees with the wiki assertion that woad wasn't used.

155396.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 1:39 pm Reply with quote

In our factory we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope.

Charles Revlon

I read an account recently (can't remember where, and I think this unlikely to be useable so I'm not going to spend a lot of time looking) written by a British officer who was put in charge of one of the Concentration Camps immediately after its liberation at the end of the War. Emergency supplies were sent in, and in one of the crates he found a shipment of lipstick. He says that his immediate reaction was the one you'd expect ("What idiot sent a crate of lipstick to a campful of starving prisoners?") but that he was entirely wrong, and that the lipstick did more to raise the morale of the women in the camp than any other single thing that they were given. He eventually concluded that the unknown figure who had indented for the lipsticks was not an idiot but a genius.

155398.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 1:42 pm Reply with quote

Jian Feng, a 38-year-old Chinaman, was horrified when his wife gave birth to a baby he considered ugly. He accused her of having an affair, whereupon she confessed to having had plastic surgery, and produced a picture to show how she used to look. He filed for divorce and successfully sued her for "deceit". They had married two years earlier after a whirlwind romance.

(Independent on Sunday, 30/5/04, The Week 5/6/04, Fortean Times 11/04 p9)

155462.  Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:22 am Reply with quote

I'm thinking our fox is still just about alive, maybe limping slightly. I don't see anything in the OP which authoritatively disagrees with the wiki assertion that woad wasn't used.

Yes, I wondered about this for a while - it is a prime candidate for 'general ignorance' because the image of blue-painted, naked, charging berzerkers is so well-accepted - but, as with all problems of 'proof' in the historical sciences, it's very difficult to show that someone or other 'didn't do something' just because modern experiments do it have failed.

Contemporary experiments with woad have proven that it does not work well at all as either a body paint or tattoo pigment.

They might have used the wrong methods.

At the very least we can mention that there is controversy over whether they did or didn't, but that might not be very interesting.

Also, linguistic references, such as the 'proper' translation of 'vitro' or 'Glastum' are a bit difficult to use as (dis)proof because translating the name of something unknown into another language, and assuming that they're talking about the same/different actual object (or plant, in this case) is bound to bring about misunderstandings. We can't obviously prove that they were talking about the same thing, but nor can we disprove it on that basis alone.

This is probably why historians won't bother arguing about it, because they know it can't be shown one way or another from this perspective. Historical arguments, though - i.e. dating - seem to be the best kind of disproof, but I've got no knowledge. I'm sure Fred can help us out...

On a side note, this
Yes, there is reason to believe that the name "Pict" may have refered to them marking their bodies, as might the Irish "Cruithne."
was interesting to note.

155463.  Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:30 am Reply with quote

Yeah, I really liked this question, because it challenged what I always believed and it had a funny and QI answer; that woad is used in printer cartridges.

Personally speaking I think it could be worth running it and say that woad was "probably not" used. With the qualifications that it was not grown in England and that "experiments have shown" that it does not work well.

155472.  Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:12 am Reply with quote

In fact, even if it was used then, but canít be used now, isnít that in itself quite an interesting example of the small class of things which the ancients could do but we canít? And the printer cartridges is a great punch line.


Page 1 of 1

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group