“Take Storax, one part, Ladani one parte, cloues halfe a parte, Campher at your discretion, but lesse then of anye of the other substaunces, of Spikenarde a good quantite, and of Nutmegges also, of all this make paste with Rose water, in the whiche you shal temper Gomme dragant, and Gomme Arabike, sturringe and brusyng them well. Of this past you shall make balles to holde in your handes, and to smell to.”
- The secretes of the reuerende Maister Alexis of Piemount, 1558
Woman from the 1500s Mary Magdalene with a Book and an Ointment Jar; Workshop of Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian (Flemish, active about 1475 – 1515); Bruges Belgium Ghent Belgium; about 1510 – 1520; Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment; Leaf: 23.2 x 16.7 cm (9 1/8 x 6 9/16 in.); Ms. Ludwig IX 18, fol. 264v
Let us set the case of one whose complexion is pale but lively; let her beware of the bright colours, except it be of white, as are the greens, yellows, changeables, and bright colours of that sort. Let those ladies whose complexion is wan dress almost alwaies in black. Those who have a certain ruddy liveliness in their faces, which makes them as constant tipplers to behold, let them wear dark lion-tawny or russet. Red is the colour in general the most pestilential and sorts itself to no complexion whatsoever. And contrariwise white agrees well with the most part of ladies, given that they are still in the flower of their youth…
Rafaella of Master Alexander Piccolomini, or rather A Dialogue of the Fair Perfectioning of Ladies, 1568
This text was first written in Italian, by a man who wished to address (and, one suspects, poke fun at) many of the practices of ladies that vexed him. In the form of a dialogue between an older woman instructing her younger kinswoman, he touches on (his opinions of) dress, behavior, cosmetics, and more.
A Dog Hunting a Stag; A Man Killed by Hanging and A Woman Laying in a Coffin; Unknown; Trier (probably), Germany; third quarter of 15th century; Pen and black ink and colored washes on paper; Leaf: 28.7 x 20.6 cm (11 5/16 x 8 1/8 in.); Ms. Ludwig XV 1, fol. 11
Place three ounces of [quicklime] in a potter’s vase and cook it in the manner of a porridge. Then take one ounce of orpiment and cook it again, and test it with a feather to see if it is sufficiently cooked. Take care, however, that it is not cooked too much and that it not stay too long on the skin, because it causes intense heat.
The Trotula, edited and translated by Monica H. Green
This 12th century depilatory would certainly remove your hair… and your health as well, since orpiment is sulfide of arsenic! You might end up in a coffin like the woman in the illustration.