Friday, January 02, 2015

Interpretations of 17th century makeup

Making use of what I wrote in my last post, I then made two makeup-looks, both based on period recipes, but turning out very differently!

Two interpretations of 17th century makeup
As have been described there were several kinds of pigments as well on hot to apply them, so I wanted to do two makeup looks, one powdered and one enameled, to show how different makeup could really look.

For the powdered look I started with applying modern cold cream, letting it soak in before I applied the makeup. I used a  liquid rouge made from red sanders boiled in alcohol. The rouge is quite translucent and works very much in the same way as modern lip or cheek tint. I applied it with a brush on the lower part of the cheeks, using my fingers to even out the edges. I applied several layers to build up the colour, letting each layer dry completely before applying the next one.
 
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When I was pleased with the rouge I applied white powder all over my face with a large brush, patting it in before I brushed off the excess. I used real pearl powder as I have pale skin naturally and I really like the way pearl powder evens out the skin tone and gives it a luminous glow rather than a stark white face. The lips were painted with a lip salve coloured with red iron oxide as a substitute to vermillion. As this look is rather soft I opted to not paint my eyebrows at all.
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The enameled look was made by mixing white lead substitute with an equal amount of water. I used half a teaspoon of each and used it all. This is a period way of making white face paint and I applied it with a brush, though fingers or a sponge could also have been used. Pigment + water makes for a rather primitive foundation and it demands some time and patience to get even. I have found that the best way is to apply it is to let it dry completely after the first application and then work the face over with moist fingers or a very slightly damp sponge to get the face paint as evenly as possible. The result stays put very well, but can be a bit drying to the skin, so it is important to use a face cream as preparations. I used the same cold cream as I used for the powdered look.
 
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Lips and cheeks were painted with Spanish wool. It is rouge made by saturating lamb’s wool with a liquid pigmented with Cochineal and Brazilwood. When the wool is dry it is cut into round pads and when one wants to use them, the pad is dampened with water. The pad can be used directly on the face, but I find it easier to use brushes to get the paint where I want it. As both the white and the red paint is water soluble, the red mixed with the white and made the rouge pink on the cheeks instead of red. I also used a little black iron oxide mixed with water to darken my eyebrows.
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I didn’t have any patches, but played a little with this photo just to show how patches could add, or perhaps subtract, to the finished look.
 
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As you can see the two makeup looks really do look quite different. With my modern sensibilities, I vastly prefer the powdered look over the enameled one.
 
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Detail from Anna Margareta von Haugwitz by Anselm van Hulle (1622 – 73), 1649


Makeup options for the modern time-traveler
I used makeup that I made myself after 17th century recipes, though updated to omit any dangerous ingredients. It is fun, but can be a bit complicated and there can be many, and sometimes expensive, ingredients to purchase. A simpler and cheaper alternative is to purchase just the pigments and use them with modern cosmetics. White pigments can be used as face powder, of mixed into a face cream or just plain water to make a foundation. Red pigment can be mixed into uncoloured lip balm or mixed with rice powder to make dry rouge.

It is also perfectly possible to achieve a period look with modern makeup. Choose a pale foundation and/or the palest powder you can find. If using rouge, choose true or warm reds or cool pink shades. There are also a few companies who sell cosmetics made after old recipes.

Useful links
Ageless Artifice was a really nice company that made cosmetics after old recipes, but unfortunately they gave it all up a few years ago It have been said that their 17th and 18th century products will be sold by Dobyns and Martins, though I haven’t seen anything about it on their webpage. They do have some ingredients suitable for 17th century cosmetics, though. As for now they only ship to USA and Canada.

Little Bits is an Etsy-based company that sells 18th century cosmetics made after old recipes. I haven’t personally bought anything there, but I have heard good things about them.

Naturally Thinking Essential oils and cosmetic bases.

Sally Pointer, sells white lead substitute.

TKB Trading A great variety of cosmetic-grade pigments. I buy my pearl powder here as well as most of the pigments I use.
 
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Portrait of Anna Maria Radziwiłł by Caspar Netscher (1639-1684), c. 1665

The photos of the powdered look were taken by Morgan Ekström, the photos of the enameled look by Jan Schmidt.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Women's makeup in the 17th century

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Woman with a Mirror by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), c. 1640

This article was originally published at Your Wardrobe Unlock'd. The first part cover the history of makeup, the second my interpretation of makeup using period recipes.
 
After making the mid-17th century wig I started to think about what kind of makeup that would be suitable for the 1650’s. Period makeup is probably the most overlooked part in a re-enactors outfit, especially as not wearing any makeup at all is almost always a proper choice. Makeup was usually reserved for the upper classes, but not all ladies who had the means used cosmetics. Personally, I find the history of cosmetics fascinating and for the past two years I have made several makeup products after old recipes, which I feel gives new layers and a deeper understanding of what people found attractive two or three hundred years ago. In this article I will give an overview over the mid-17th century fashion of makeup, followed by two makeup looks made with cosmetics based on period recipes as well as suggestions of makeup choices for creating a suitable 17th century look.

Cosmetics in the 17th century
Makeup fashion were rather static in the 17th century, but in both the first and lasts decades of the century makeup were generally applied more heavily than the mid-decades. Fashions doesn’t appear in a vacuum and the rather heavy-handed use of makeup that was popular in the early 17th century didn’t really fit with the more informal styles in clothes and hair that became popular in the late 1620’s. It is also very likely that the religious wars that affected many European countries during this period influenced how people used, or not used, makeup. The Puritans in England definitely did, and though they did not completely abhorred expressions of vanity for women, like jewelry and well-dressed hair, they were very much against the use of makeup.
 
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Lady in black by Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670), c. 1640

The use of makeup was heavily criticized in various pamphlets, and not all critics took a religious stance. Many voices expressed the opinion that a woman who used makeup were a deceiver and a cheat and if she was able to cheat with her looks, she would also be capable to cheat on her husband. John Bulwer’s Anthropometamorphosis, first published in 1650, describes all kinds of makeup and body modification that the contemporary Englishmen and women could indulge it and condemned it, basically because they were, in Bulwer’s eyes, borrowed from non-European, and therefore inferior, cultures. There was, however, also people who defended the use of cosmetics, seeing nothing wrong with wanting to look as beautiful as possible. And makeup was, of course, still used, regardless of what the critics said.
 
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Detail from Woman in a mask
 by Wenceslaus Hollar (1617-1677),
 1643

To be considered truly a beautiful woman in the 1600’s must possess a white skin. To achieve that she stayed away from the sun as much as possible and it was very common to wear masks when venturing outside to protect the skin. There were also a quite a range of cosmetic products aimed to keep the skin fair and remove pimples and spots. Skin care could range from the extremely dangerous, to practices that could be used today, depending on what the cosmetics contained. The lady who used vitriol oil or Mercury water to exfoliate the skin, followed with a toner made with lead and using makeup with lead and mercury would have destroyed her looks quite quickly, not to mention endangered her general health. On the other hand, the women who followed the more sound advice of washing their faces with wash balls morning and evening, following up with a with a toner of Bran water and using almond oil or pomatum morning and night, could certainly keep her skin in good condition. Washballs were made of shredded soap, mixed with herbs and spices, which made the soap last longer, added scent and also gave a mild exfoliating effect. Pomatums were a cream, which generally contained fat, bees wax and spermaceti, the grandparent of modern Cold cream. Other popular ingredients in skin whitening waters were lemon juice, alum, egg white and borax, or, a bit more exotic or just plain gross, snails. Teeth could be cleaned with powders containing, for example cream of tartar, myrrh or cinnamon.
 
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Girl at a mirror by Paulus Moreelse (1571-1638), 1632

To the general beauty regime, a well to do woman could then apply makeup. Compared to modern standards, this was quite primitive and consisted mainly of white and red paint. There were, however, more than one option and though some pigments used were very toxic, others were not and can be found in beauty products today.


White paint
Lead white or Ceruse, a white pigment that has been used in makeup for thousands of years. It is very toxic, but both cover and adhere to skin well, which is probably why it was the most popular white pigment in makeup until the 19th century when Titanium dioxide came into production. Titanium dioxide is used in cosmetics today is usually used as a lead white substitute, but it is 50% more opaque than lead white, so it should be mixed with an equal amount of rice powder.

Mercury sublimate, a white pigment with a slight sheen, it also has a whitening effect of the skin. As it is derived from Mercury it is extremely toxic, though countries with less discerning cosmetic laws still sell whitening skin products that contains it. If you find it, don’t use it! It’s difficult to say with what to substitute Mercury sublimate with, but one could probably get something similar if one mixed some Bismuth with Lead white substitute.


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Detail from Catherine Dormer, daughter of Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsey
 by John Michael Wright (1617-1694), 1659
Bismuth oxychloride, a white pigment with a very metallic shine. It is used in modern cosmetics, especially mineral makeup, but many people are sensitive to it. Titanium dioxide with mica looks quite similar and can be used instead.  In 17th century texts Bismuth is often called Tin glass.


Talc, very fine white pigment without much coverage. As it is so fine one should take some care not to inhale it.


Pearl powder, real pearls that in the 17th century were dissolved in lemon juice or vinegar and dried into a white powder. Today it is made from very finely milled pearl, but the finished powder looks and behaves the same way as the powder made from dissolved pearls. The whitening effect is slight, but due to the nacre it is light-reflecting and evens out the skin tone. This was a very exclusive and expensive pigment in the 17th century and was often substituted with Bismuth. It is used in cosmetic products today.
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Detail from Anne Sophia, Countess of Carnarvon by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
 
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Katherine, Countess of Chesterfield, and Lucy, Countess of Huntingdon by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), 1636-1640

Other white pigments used were calcined (burnt) bones, rice powder and ground alabaster. White paint could be made of just one kind of pigment, or a mix of different ones. One recipe, for example, uses Ceruse and Mercury sublimate, mixed with rosewater and lemon juice. The white pigment could, at times, be mixed with a little red to make pink or flesh-coloured makeup. There was also a distinction between women who wore heavy white makeup and those who used less, enameled versus powdered ladies. Enameled ladies mixed the white pigments with liquid or pomatum to create a foundation that covered the skin well. Powdered ladies did just that, they powdered their faces and regardless of choice of pigment, the result would be softer and more natural. To make the powder adhere to the skin, it was moisturized with an oil or pomatum beforehand. One recipe recommends white poppy seed oil before powdering the face with calcined bone.
 
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Detail from Anna Margareta von Haugwitz by Matthaeus Merian the Younger (1621-1687), 1648 or 1651

Just using white paint and no other kind of makeup was perfectly normal and many portraits show women who are extremely pale, but on the whole, red paint was added to complete the makeup.


Red paint
Vermillion, or Cinnabar, a orange red pigment made from Mercury. As with Mercury sublimate, vermillion is very toxic, but somewhat confusingly, vermillion was also used for Dragon’s blood, a bright red resin that is quite safe to use. Vermillion can also be substituted with red Iron oxide.
 
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Detail from Dorothy, Lady Dacre by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), 1633

Cochineal or carmine, a crimson pigment derived from a small scale insect. It is still used in makeup today.


Red sanders and brazilwood are shredded timber from two different kinds of trees, both unfortunately considered endangered species. When soaked in alcohol they colour the liquid a brownish red.


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Portrait of Anna di Cosimo de' Medici by Justus Sustermans (1597-1681), 1652-1653
Alkanet, a dark, cool toned red vegetable pigment. The pigment works best it in rouge that is fat-based. Safe to use.


Red ochre was used as a cheap rouge for lower class women in the 17th century. Rouge could also be made from the meat from the claws if river crabs, which was then dried, powdered and mixed with alcohol. Another rouge was made from mixing madder,  myrrh, saffron and frankincense which was applied to the skin and left there overnight. Sally Pointer tried this recipe in Artifice of Beauty and reports that it leaves a distinct apricot stain on the skin that lasts for several days, so great care must have been made to apply it properly!

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Detail from Henrietta Boyle, Countess of Rochester by Peter Lely (1618-1680), c. 1665
Rouge was used both on the cheeks and lips, though a kind of red makeup crayons was used where the red pigment was mixed with ground alabaster or plaster of Paris. Mouths were painted with well-defined lips in red, small mouths were considered beautiful, but there is no indication that lips were painted smaller than they actually were. Rouge were applied on the cheeks quite low, imitating the look of a natural blush. Excessive use of rouge can sometimes be seen on portraits, and most of these well-rouged ladies seem to be French.

Other kinds of makeup
Not much makeup was used apart from white and red paint, but there are recipes for black paint to colour the eyebrows. Most portraits show women with groomed, but quite natural eyebrows, though. Eyeliner and mascara were not used, even if the custom of using kohl in the Orient was known and actresses used to line their eyes with black to make their eyes more visible on the scene. Eyeshadow in brown, grey or blue seems to have been of some use, though. It was applied close to the eye and this may be what Bulwer complains about when he abhors the horrible practice of painting circles around the eyes. Some portraits from the period do seem to show eyes that are delicately shaded, like some, but not all, of the court women Sir Peter Lely painted. There are also a few mentions of women painting blue veins on their foreheads to indicate a delicate and translucent skin.
 
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Detail from Portrait of Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), 1634

The mouche or the black patch was a very popular beauty device in the 17th century and it reached it’s absolute height in popularity toward mid-century. It was cut out in velvet, silk or paper in a variety of shapes and in the 17th century, it was considered most fashionable to apply a large number of them all over the face. It had more than one purpose; it could hide blemishes, but also just be applied to highlight the white skin or a particularly fetching feature. The fashion of patching spread quickly down the social ladder, through lower class women wore fewer patches. At the end of the 17th century, this changed and a lady of class started to wear a few well-placed patches and the use of a multitude was begun to be seen as something slatternly, indicating an immoral lifestyle, the many patches hiding the marks of venereal diseases.

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Detail from A Lady as a Shepherdess by John Greenhill, c. 1665
 
Bibliography
Corson, Richard Fashions in makeup: from ancient to modern times, London : Peter Owen, 1972
 
Gunn, Fenja Artificial Face: History of Cosmetics, David & Charles, 1973
 
Pointer, Sally The artifice of beauty: a history and practical guide to perfumes and cosmetics, Stroud : Sutton, 2005
 
 
 
Salmon, William Polygraphice, or, The arts of drawing, engraving, etching, limning, painting, washing, varnishing, gilding, colouring, dying, beautifying, and perfuming in seven books: exemplified in the drawing of men, women, landskips, countreys and figures of various forms, the way of engraving, etching, and limning, with all their requisites and ornaments, the depicting of the most eminent pieces of antiquities, the paintings of the antients: never published till now, together with the original, advancement and perfection of the art of painting, and a discourse of perspective, chiromancy and alchymy: to which is added, I, the one hundred and twelve chymical arcanums of Petrus Johannes Faber, a most learned and eminent physician, translated out of Latin into English, II, an abstract of choice chymical preparations, fitted for vulgar use, for curing most diseases incident to humane bodies, The fifth edition, enlarged with above a thousand considerable additions, adorned with XXV. copper sculptures, the like never yet extant, London: Printed for Thomas Passinger and Thomas Sawbridge, 1685.

Wecker, Johann Jacob Eighteen books of the secrets of art & nature being the summe and substance of naturall philosophy, methodically digested, first designed by John Wecker dr in Physick, and now much augmented and inlarged by Dr R. Read, a like work never before in the English tongue, London : Printed for Simon Miller, 1660
 
William, Neville Powder and paint: a history of the Englishwoman's toilet, Elizabeth I-Elizabeth II, London Longmans, Green, 1957
 





 
























Friday, December 05, 2014

Styling a mid17th-century wig

This is part two of an article first appearing in Your Wardrobe Unlock’d. The first part covered thehistory of the hairstyle as well as some 17th century hair care. Here is a step-by-step instruction for creating the style. The hairstyle is perfectly possible to make of one’s own hair, I have made an early, frizzy version with shoulder length hair, for a later version one needs longer hair or/and some false hair to fill it up

Styling the wig
 
There are several different ways of setting curls on a wig, like using a steamer or dipping it in boiling water. I bake mine in the oven and I don’t use curlers. You will need , apart from the wig, a wig head and, to make styling easier, a wig stand, a comb, bobby pins and a spray bottle with plain water. If you prefer to use curlers, then use them, but personally I prefer to make standing pin curls and then you need something that will function as a dowel, like an old mascara wand.


A standing pin curl is fairly easy to make. You begin with wetting the wig and then combing out a hank of hair, making sure that it is smooth before placing the dowel under the hair, a bit over the ends.
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First wind up that short bit of hair on the dowel, which will secure the tops underneath the rest of the hair as you continue to roll up the hair around the dowel. It may be easier if you fold a piece of paper, like Kleenex, around the ends before you start rolling. Roll up the hair as far as possible and then carefully remove the dowel.
 
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You now have a tube of hair that you secure from both ends with booby pins. The great thing with standing pin curls is that you can vary the size of them after the thickness of your dowel and as there are no rollers, the hair dries faster.
 
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Wigs can be made out of real hair or synthetic. My wig is synthetic and begun its life as a straight extra long wig. It then became an 18th century wig that the cats got hold of, so the first thing I had to do was to wash and comb it. It is much easier to start with a brand new wig! The main inspiration was this portrait of Queen Christina of Sweden, painted around 1650. I like the rather informal style and being Swedish I also like to know that this is a style that was definitely worn in Sweden.
 
 
Secure the wig on the wig head and make sure that you know were the mid front is.
 
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If you want a fringe or curls over your forehead, then leave out some hair in the front, before combing the rest of the hair on top of the hair back, making sure that it is even on both sides and secure into a ponytail.
 
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Comb the hair on the back of the head into another ponytail that you have secured just under the first hand. The ponytails will be the chignon on the finished wig and don’t have to be curled, so just pin them up so the ends are out of the way.
 
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Now you will need to curl the hair on the sides. Make the curls vertical and wind the hair away from the face. My main inspiration had rather irregular curls so I didn’t bother to make the curls identical on both sides. Start from the top and work your way down. Do both sides.
 
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The last thing I did was to curl the hair that I had left out at the front.
 
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When the wig has been put up in curls the way you want it, it is time to set it. Now it is time to wet the wig really well. I usually hold it underneath the tap, gently squeezing each curl to make sure that the wig is damp throughout. Heat the oven on a very low heat, 50-60 Celsius/122-140 Fahrenheit as you don’t want to melt your wig. Place the wig, still on its wig head on a clean baking tray. As the back of this wig isn’t curled, I placed my wig on its “back” in an oven proof dish to make sure it wouldn’t roll and crush the curls.
 
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Keep it overnight in the oven on the lowest heat, letting the wig first steam and the dry out. Upon removal, let the wig cool completely and check out the curls to make sure it is all dry. If not, then it needs to get back in the oven for a couple of more hours.


Now it is time to style it. Make the chignon before you take away the booby pins/curlers from the sides. How you do it is really up to taste, you can make a rope twist, a braid or just a plain roll. The fancier your clothes, the more elaborate you can make the chignon. My wig was very long and I had a lot of hair to make a chignon of. The first ponytail was twisted and pinned down to a shape rather like an 8, leaving two strands of hair free.
 
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Then I crossed the free strands over the middle of chignon to neaten it up. The rest of the hair was braided and then I finished the chignon with winding the braid around it.
 
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Then I removed the booby pins from the sides. What one does with the curls is really up to taste. They could be brushed into a frizz or just lightly combed to split up the curls. I liked the look of just pulling the curls out with my fingers.
 
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The last step was to arrange the curl at the forehead.
 
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Ready to be decorated and worn.
 
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EDIT: After wearing the wig I have found that the curls are too long so I plan to cut them shorter and probably sew the cut bits on the wig to make the side curls fuller.