Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lip Salve & Cold Cream, 1857

I decided to mess around with some period cosmetic recipes. For the first experiment, I looked at some 1850s recipes for tinted lip balm. There were several receipts available, mainly using either wax or lard for a base, with rose or orange flower scent and a pink tint derived from alkanet or carmine/cochineal.

The first receipt I decided to try was the "rose lip salve" from The Druggist's General Receipt Book (1857).  It calls for white wax, almond oil, otto of roses, and alkanet root.  You basically melt the wax and almond oil together with the alkanet, then strain out the alkanet and stir in a few drops of rose essence.  I used white beeswax this time.  When made, the balm set very quickly, and had a pleasing pale pink shade and rose odor.  I have not noticed that it imparts any rosiness to the lips, but it sure looks and feels nice.
Ingredients for lip balm, 1857 recipe
Ingrediants: white beeswax pellets, sweet almond
oil, rose essence, and a dram of alkanet chips.

1857 lip balm in progress
The liquid lip balm fresh off the stove.
The color lightens as it solidifies.

1857 Pink rose lip balm
The finished lip balm.
I also decided to try a receipt from Miss Leslie's Lady's New Receipt Book (1850).  Her red lip salve calls for a fifty-fifty mixture of lard and suet, colored with alkanet and then scented with rose water, orange flower water, or "oil of rhodium".  Since I already had the other pink lip salve, I decided to try the "cold cream" variation of this, which uses a 1:2 ratio of suet to lard and skips the coloring agent.

I melted the lard and suet (tallow--finally found some!) together on the stove, then took them off and added a tablespoon of orange flower water.  This was actually a bad idea, as it caused the previously-not-boiling fats to "bump", ie spew all over the place as it suddenly boiled.  Not to self: get boiling chips for future batches, or wait to stir in aqueous components until its started cooling down.  Flying liquid fats not withstanding, it solidified into a nice white cream which seems to do its job decently.
Cold cream is meant to soothe chapped skin, so it's a timely addition to my winter reenacting kit.

For those who prefer to buy ready-made cosmetics, Little Bits Apothecary apparently uses historical recipes.

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