“Put eight ounces of the best olive oil into a widemouthed bottle, add two ounces of the small parts of alkanet-root. Stop up the bottle, and set it in the sun; shake it often, until it be of a beautiful crimson. Now strain the oil off very clear from the roots, and add to it, in a glazed pipkin, three ounces of very fine white wax, and the same quantity of fresh clean mutton suet… Melt this by a slow fire, and perfume it when taken off, with forty drops of oil of rhodium, or of lavender.”
Mackenzie’s Five Thousand Receipts, 1829
“Take a pint of good Brandy, and infuse therein half an ounce of Gum Benjamin, an ounce of Red Sanders, and half an ounce of Brazil Wood, both in coarse powder, with half an ounce of Roch Alum. Cork the bottle tight, shake it well every day, and at the expiration of twelve days the Liquor will be fit for use. Lightly touch the cheeks with this Tincture, and it will scarcely be possible to perceive that rouge has been laid on, it will so nearly resemble the natural bloom.”
The Toilet of Flora, 1772
It is well known that this oxide [bismuth], under the name of pearl white, is used as a cosmetic by those of the fair sex who wish to become fairer. A lady thus painted was sitting in a lecture room, where chemistry being the subject, water being impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen gas (Harrowgate water) was handed round for inspection. On smelling this liquid, the lady in question became suddenly black in the face. Every person was of course alarmed by this sudden chemical change; but the lecturer explaining the cause of the phenomenon, the lady received no farther injury, than a salutary practical lesson to rely more upon natural than artificial beauty in future.
MacKenzie’s Five Thousand Receipts, 1829
The take-away: If you’re going to use bismuth oxide, stay away from hydrogen sulfide. (Although that’s probably a good idea anyway.)