Can fumigation get rid of wrinkles? Our ancestors certainly thought so. The Mirror Of The Graces, published in 1811, featured Aura and Cephalus, a recipe said to have been invented by the ancient Greeks that promised to do just that:
Put some powder of the best myrrh upon an iron plate, sufficiently heated to melt the gum gently, and when it liquifies, hold your face over it, at a proper distance to receive the fumes without inconvenience; and, that you may reap the whole benefit of the fumigation, cover your head with a napkin.
But this remedy wasn’t without side effects. The magazine continues:
It must be observed, however, that if the applicant feels any head-ach, she must desist, as the remedy will not suit her constitution, and ill consequences might possibly ensue.
I wonder what these ill consequences were. Even so, that warning would have been enough for me to refrain from using it. It’s hard to see how this recipe could have had any effects on wrinkles anyway. Susan M. Stabile, author of Memory’s Daughters: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-century America, proposes a theory:
More than opening the pores to expel impurities, this method suggests a type of reciprocal respiration. Aura, the recipe’s author briefly waxes, means “gentle breeze” or “invisible breath” in Greek, and Cephalus means “head.” Implicating the face, the head, and the breath, this anti-aging remedy celebrated the living countenance.
Would you have given it a go?