“The jewellers afterwards polish them [tortise-shell combs] by rubbing them with dry rouge powder; but sifted magnesia does just as well– and if the ladies had rouge, perhaps they would, by mistake, put it upon their cheeks, instead of their combs; and thereby spoil their complexions.”
The American Frugal Housewife, 1833
“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
Talc or French chalk (finely scraped)
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!