Cosmetics – Regency Style

This past weekend I spent some time thinking about cosmetics. I’m about out of my skin care products and make-up and so I have decisions to make.

Years ago I used Merle Norman cosmetics exclusively, both skin care products and make-up, but the store where I purchased them closed and I thought the company went out of business. But I found one in Georgia a couple of years ago, then looked on the internet and found a shop near me. So my last purchase was from Merle Norman.

Before that I was using Bare Minerals for make-up, products I do like a lot, but I wanted to try Merle Norman again. I’d also been using Avon Products for skin care.

Now I’m at a deciding point again. Which should I choose? Merle Norman? Bare Minerals? Avon?

The Regency woman had a lot fewer choices.

Actually, the Regency woman did not have a great need for make-up. The era was one that valued the natural look, in contrast with the Georgian era which favored white faces with rouged cheeks and black patches. Unfortunately, one of the main the ingredients of this Georgian make-up was lead, leading to disfigurement and even death.

For the natural look of the Regency, there were some tinted foundations, mostly used by older women. Rice powder or talc powder was sparingly used and a light touch of cheek tint was acceptable, as well as lip color, some of which was not too different from today’s lip gloss.

Here’s a great website that tells more about Regency cosmetics.

Skin care products were more widely used and for the same reasons I use them–to improve the skin and fight signs of aging. And for reasons I used to use them many moons ago–for skin eruptions or, as we called them, pimples.

One of the products used lead or mercury, both very toxic and harmful. Other products had familiar ingredients, like rose water and almond oil.

A problem with the skin care products of the Regency were that they might include ingredients like milk or cream that would spoil, so they didn’t have a long shelf life.

For more about Regency skin products, look here.

Here’s a whole book written in the late 1700s – The Toilet of Flora by Flora (a goddess).

And here is a podcast from Historic Williamsburg that talks about “the art of beauty” in the Georgian and Regency eras.

So….What is your favorite cosmetic or skin care product? Any advice for me?

Come to Diane’s blog THIS Thursday for my interview with Superromance author and pal, Darlene Gardner. (I forgot it was Thursday last week and missed posting this blog! THIS Thursday for sure.)

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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5 Responses to Cosmetics – Regency Style

  1. Beth Elliott says:

    I love reading about what went into cosmetics in former times. It’s always good to learn of things like almond oil, which have stood the test of time. I use a wonderful Rose Petal salve, made by Rose & Co. And they say that Ponds Cold Cream is as good as anything for cleaning and softening the complexion.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lancome makes a decent powder-makeup in a compact. Fortunately, you can buy it just about anywhere.

    Susan in AZ

  3. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks for the interesting links, Diane. I do like the idea of all those rose-water products. The lead, not so much.

    Years ago I was dealing some minor skin problems and the dermatologist recommended Neutrogena. I’ve pretty much kept with the brand although I’ve changed regimens over time. My favorite product is their lip gloss, enough color for me without the taste of lipstick, which I’ve never liked.

  4. Diane Gaston says:

    Beth, I remember Ponds Cold Cream!!

    Anon and Elena, there are so many cosmetics choices out there, it could drive a person crazy!!

    I like all the choices I’ve made – Merle Norman, Bare Minerals and Avon – now I just have to decide what direction to go in next.

    Or….I could try other brands….

  5. Judy says:

    I love using natural products! My skin is so sensitive the only thing I don’t worry about are natural products, and I’m not talking about arsenic. 🙂 Burt’s Bees is great for me. I also make some of my own products, using recipes from books written by Janice Cox.

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