The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Victorian cosmetics: uses for rose water.

homemade rose water.
I was able to make about a cup of rose water earlier this week, and I plan to make some more once I get more suitable rose petals! Rose water has been touted for many cosmetic uses, from the Renaissance era to today. It is useful as a perfume, but also as a skin toner or mild astringent, and a hair rinse. Here are some Victorian recipes that use rose water in combination with other ingredients, for cosmetic preparations:

From Inquire Within for Anything You Want To Know, 1858:

TO REMOVE FRECKLES.—Dissolve, in half an ounce of lemon-juice, one ounce of Venice soap, and add a quarter of an ounce each of oil of bitter almonds, and deliquated [sic] oil of tartar. Place this mixture in the sun till it acquires the consistency of ointment. When in this state add three drops of the oil of rhodium, and keep it for use. Apply it to the face and hands in the manner following: wash the parts at night with elder-flower water, then anoint with the ointment. In the morning cleanse the skin from its oily adhesion by washing it copiously in rose-water.

From Godey's Lady's Book, 1860:

An excellent soap may be made by scraping and melting down some white curd soap, and adding to it some almond paste. The almonds should first be bleached, and then beaten into a smooth paste, with a small portion of white of egg, and as much rose-water and half its quantity of spirits of wine as will give the paste a proper consistency. Mix this with the melted soap in a proportion of one-fourth.


Jason Witt said...

Wow. Removal of freckles. I have plenty of those. I like how natural these recipes for cosmetic remedies are. There's no chemical stuff to be put in them but just simple ingredients. --Jason

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

True, many things can be made with all-natural ingredients! I haven't tried treating freckles with rose water, though, so I don't know if it works. I have used rose water as a toner, however, and that works.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)