A Snail-Pomatum (1756)

“Take as many Snails as you please, and beat them in a Mortar with a sufficient Quantity of the Oil of Sweet Almonds. Strain by Expression, and add an Ounce of Virgin-Wax for every four Ounces of Oil. Wash the Whole in the Water of Frog’s-Spawn, and add a few Drops of the Essence of Lemons, in order to correct the bad smell.”

Abdeker: Or, the Art of Preserving Beauty, 1756.


Styptic water (1756)

“Take Alum, white Vitriol, and green Vitriol, of each half an Ounce; dissolve them in Plantain and Knot-grass Water, of each six Ounces. Strain the Liquor for Use. This Water is very styptic.”

Abdeker: or, the art of preserving beauty, 1756

To remove Superfluous Hair (1857)

“This is very difficult… Madame Elisi Voiart, in her ‘Encyclopedie des Dames,’ recommends a few drops of dulcified spirit of salt, (that is, muriatic acid distilled with rectified spirits of wine,) to be applied with a camel hair pencil.”

Receipts for the Million, 1857

(muriatic acid = hydrochloric acid)

An excellent white Paint for the Face (1756)

“Take of the white Part of Hartshorn a Pound, of the Flour of Rice two Pounds, of White Lead half a Pound, of Cuttle Fish Bone two Ounces, Frankincense, Mastich, Gum Arabic, of each an Ounce; dilute the Whole in a sufficient Quantity of Rose-Water. Wash the Face therewith.”

Abdeker: Or, the Art of Preserving Beauty, by Antoin Le Camus, 1756

A Method to make the Teeth beautifully white (1772)

“Take Rose-water, Syrup of Violets, clarified Honey, and Plantain-water, of each half an ounce; Spirit of Vitriol one ounce; mix them all together; rub the teeth with a linen rag moistened in this Liquor, and then rince the mouth with Rose and Plantain Water, of each equal parts.”

The Toilet of Flora, 1772

Enamel Powder (1873)

Take of

Talc or French chalk (finely scraped)


[equal parts]

Rouge or carmine (to slightly tinge it)


mix. Used to conceal discolourations; and, without the colouring, to whiten the skin.

Instructions and Cautions Respecting the Selection and Use of Perfumes, Cosmetics and Other Toilet Articles, by Arnold James Cooley, 1873

This almost isn’t poisonous. However, pearl-white is oxide of bismuth, which isn’t as toxic as lead but still isn’t something you want to be putting on your skin. The same book that gives the recipe goes on to say, “The continued use of either of the above ‘bismuth-whites’ injures the skin, and ultimately produces paralysis of its minute vessels, rendering it yellow and leather-like– an effect which, unfortunately, those who employ it generally attempt to conceal by its freer and more frequent application.”

Darn. Better luck next time!