I love painting my face with foundation, concealer, blush… It’s fun to experiment with makeup. But in the past, it could also be dangeorus. Often, deadly dangeorus, as this chapter in The Toilette Of Health, Beauty, And Fashion so clearly illustrated:
Paints must not be confounded with cosmetics, which really impart whiteness, freshness, suppleness, and brilliancy to the skin, when it is naturally different to those qualities; consequently they only assist nature, and make amends for her defects; and it may be affirmed they are to beauty what medicine is to health.
Paints are far from answering this description. They are not only incapable of embellishing the skin, but those who make use of them are extremely fortunate when they do not contribute to increase its defects. […] Paints, although they are incapable of repairing the ravages of time, are nevertheless used, for various reasons.
In the first place, they are sooner and more easily applied; because they produce a higher and more brilliant and speedy effect; and in the next, because, in cases where cosmetics would be of no use; for instance, in persons too plain or too old, paints afford a convenient resource, a last and only medium of disguising other defects of the complexion or the ravages of time.
But when a person is young, fresh and handsome, to paint would be perfectly ridiculous; it would be wantonly spoiling the fairest gifts of nature.
Red and white being the only paints used on the skin, we shall here briefly treat of them. If ever paint were to be prescribed, we should plead for an exception in favor of rouge, which may be rendered extremely innocent, and be applied with such art as to give an expression to the countenance, which it would not have without that auxiliary. White paint is never becoming; rouge, on the contrary, almost always looks well.
1. OF WHITE PAINT
White paints are extracted from minerals more or less pernicious, but always corrosive. Mineral paints affect the eyes, change the texture of the skin, producing pimples. Paint also causes rheums, attacks the teeth, makes them ache, destroys the enamel, and loosens them.
It heats the mouth and throat, infecting and corrupting the saliva. Lastly, it penetrates through the pores of the skin, acting by degrees on the cellular substance of the lungs, and inducing pulmonary complaints.
Or, in other cases if the paint be composed of aluminous or calcareous substances, it stops the pores of the skin which it tarnishes, and prevents perspiration, which, as a matter of course, is directed to some other part, to the danger of the individual.
Metallic paints are extracted from either lead, tin, or bismuth. To the inconveniences already noticed, these paints add that of turning the skin black when it is exposed to the action of sulphureous or phosphoric exhalations.
Accordingly those females who use them ought carefully to avoid going too near substances in a state of putrefaction, the vapors of sulphur and lime of sulphur, and the exhalations of bruised garlic.
We shall here merely subjoin the process for making a cheap white paint, which, if not wholly free from inconvenience, is not, however, accompanied with those dangers which always attend the use of whites prepared from bismuth, lead, or tin.
To Make A White Paint For The Complexion
Take a piece of Briancon chalk. Choose it of a pearl grey color, and rasp it gently with a piece of dogskin. After this, sift it through a sieve of very fine silk, and put it into a pint of good distilled vinegar, and leave it there for fourteen days, shaking the bottle two or three times each day, with the exception of the last, on which it must not be disturbed.
Having stood the requisite time, pour off the vinegar, so as to leave the chalk behind in the bottle, into which pour very clean water that has been filtered. Throw the whole into a clean pan, and stir the water well with a wooden spatula. Let the powder settle again to the bottom, pour the water gently off, and wash this powder six or seven times, taking care always to make use of filtered water.
When the powder is as white and as soft as you would wish, dry it in a place where it is not exposed to the dust. Sift it through a silken sieve, which will make it still finer. It may either be left in powder, or wetted and formed into cakes like those sold by the perfumers. One pint of vinegar is sufficient to dissolve a pound of talc, that is, of Briancon chalk.
Obs.—This white may be used in the same manner as carmine, by dipping the finger, or a piece of paper, or what is preferable to either, a hare’s foot prepared for the purpose, in ointment, and putting upon it about a grain of this powder, which will not be removed even by perspiration.
2. OF RED PAINT
It would be well were those ladies whose taste may lead them to relieve the deficiency of their complexion by means of rouge, were they to compose the articles themselves. They would not then run the risk of using those dangerous reds in which deleterious minerals are ingredients, of spoiling the skin, and of exposing themselves to the inconveniences which we have alluded to, as liable to result from the use of metallic paints.
The more dangerous reds are those compounded with minium, which is a calx of lead, or cinnabar, otherwise called vermilion, produced by sulphur and mercury. Vegetable red therefore should alone be used. These are attended with little danger, especially when used with moderation.
The vegetable substances which furnish rouge, are red sanders wood, root of orchanet, cochineal, Brazil wood, and especially the bastard saffron, which yields a very beautiful color, that is, mixed with a sufficient quantity of French chalk or talc.
Some perfumers compose vegetable rouges, for which they take’ vinegar as the excipient. These reds are liable to injure the beauty of the skin. It is more advisable to compound them with oleaginous or unctuous substances, and to form salves. For this purpose, balm of Mecca, butter of cacao, oil of ben, &c. may, for instance, be employed.
Take half an ounce of red sandal wood, half an ounce of cloves, and five pounds of sweet almonds. Pound the whole together. Upon this paste pour two ounces of white wine, and an ounce and a half of rosewater. Let the whole be stirred up well together. In about eight or nine days, strain this paste in the same manner as is done to extract the oil of sweet almonds, and a very good red oil will be obtained.
Would you have used these paints?