Thursday, July 04, 2013

Madame Isis beauty parlour goes to Sala

The silver mine in Sala has an 18th century festival every year and last year I attended for the first time, along with other members of Gustafs Skål. It was great fun and this year I was asked to hold a little talk on 18th century beauty. Of course, I could talk about that for hours, so to keep it to about 30 minutes I decided to do an 18th century makeup on my friend Lithia.
The talk seemed to be well received, but it was tucked away in a house in the outskirts of the festival area, which made all my listeners people from my own and other historical societies who helped out, and not the general public, who tended to drift around. I think more would have benefitted if I hadn't done so much as an arranged talk as just putting on Lithia's makeup outside were people moved around and answering questions. In fact that was just what we did for the hairstyling, as it takes much, much longer to put up hair in an 18th century style than it takes to put on makeup. Lots of people stopped and talked with us, not to mention taking photos.

A couple of years ago I did a very basic tutorial for a late 18th century style and that's the basics of Lithia's hair as well, though with a large rat instead of back combing.

Portrait of Marie-Josèphe of Saxony,
Dauphine of France
by Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1749
Lithia's hair is hip-length and very thick and the day before she makes standing pin-curls to make it curly. In fact, I am a bit annoyed with myself for not taking any photo of her before we began, because with all those curls close together she really had a perfect sheep’s head hairstyle! All that was needed was some powder and decorations! But we were aiming for something later, so it had to go. I brushed out every curl separately, as it makes it much easier to manage with this much hair. I parted the hair from ear to ear and brushed the front hair forward, before placing the rat and pinning it to place. Then the hair is brushed back over the rat and pinned it into place

The rest of the hair is partly arranged into curls and partly left hanging down. The hairdo you see took over an hour to complete, so if I had continued putting up the curls, then I would have missed the talk. We have decided, though, that when we find the time we will make a full formal high hairstyle and style it with pomade to see what it looks like. As the talk was inside and I didn’t want to mess up the floor, I opted for just some powder around the face.
Lithia slept in her hair and on Sunday I just had to do some touching up. The hanging curls had held up quite well, but it rained twice that day, so at the time I took the photos they were somewhat straighter.
The makeup consisted of Spanish White, The Economical Rouge and lip salve with Alkanet root on the lips. I used Queen’s Royal to paint her eyebrows.

I used Nun’s cream made with real pearl powder and now when I have got a (very slight) tan, I can actually see that it does whiten my skin. The result looks rather invisible though. I used The Economical Rouge on both cheeks and lips. For once I also used a wig, but with my own hair brushed over it to hide wig’s hairline.


  1. You both look beautiful, and what great hair Lithia has! Do you have a tutorial for the standing pincurls? As I also have very long, limp hair, that sounds like it would be a good way to get a curl to stay for a few hours.

    Love your blog, keep up the good work! <3

    1. Thank you!

      As a matter of fact I do, I made one for my 40's blog:

      I do mine on wet hair, but Lithia does her on dry, with the help of Lottabody setting lotion. You will probably have to experiment a little of what works best on your hair. :)

  2. Wow! Her pink hair looks fabulous with that little heart patch! You did an excellent job. I love the jaunty angle of your hat as well! You look just like a fashion plate! :)

    1. Thank you! A fashion plate look was indeed what I wanted, so I'm glad I succeded!