Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Clean Hair Brushes

In the Gibson Girl era, hairbrushes were very important tools as they functioned much the wash shampoo and conditioner serve modern women (That is, for cleaning dirt and dandruff from the hair while distributing oil) -- plus they created the specific hair texture needed for period hairdos.

Natural bristle brushes were most commonly used, but wire-type brushes were also available (however, they were warned to be, in all function, combs.) Here's a cleaning how to for both types.

For wire brushes.
For bristle brushes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Early Product Reviews

Before online reviews, magazines were the place to go for data on how good a product was. And, before mandatory listing of product ingredients, it was also a good place to find out what was in your favorite potion.

For example, the column featured a series of letters from March 1868 on “Mrs. Allen’s World’s Hair Restorer,” an American commercial hair wash distributed by local wholesalers. Hearing that the product caused itchy, red scalps in two acquaintances, a female correspondent turned to readers of the “…invaluable Conversazione, which so often helps us out of difficulties.” Her letter set off a chain of responses over the coming months. Respondents warned that “Mrs. Allen’s Dressing” contained hazardous amounts of mercury, eventually prompting a defensive response from London agent John M. Richards, who asserted the “natural” makeup of the product. Reader responses followed both refuting and supporting the charge of mercury, accompanied by correspondents’ proven personal recipes for hair-restorers. In this Victorian precursor to “customer reviews,” readers placed their trust in the textual community in an effort to recreate the traditional exchange of advice among female intimates. Their efforts bore fruit; they elicited responses that exposed the dangerous chemical makeup of manufactured beauty products, all while soliciting tried-and-tested alternatives from readers’ own recipe collections.

Read more at http://recipes.hypotheses.org/3938

Saturday, August 9, 2014

1912 Christmas Fashion

"The knowledge must be there; for to achieve success the true feeling of fashion must be met. One must always lead - not follow in the wake of everyone else. This is one of the fundamental mistakes which people dependent on their own exertions make and is companioned by another, that of getting too many things of inferior quality. To follow the most ordinary shop windows some weeks after is the worst possible plan if one wants to look smart. Instead, one should find out what is being worn in the highest plane and aim for that in good materials, and so quite a reputation for chic dressing can be established."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Red Paint for the Face Liquid Rouge Recipe - Effort #1

After my disappointing experience with 3 Custom Color, I realized I would have to make historical Red Paint for the Face all on my own. I bought a bottle of Three-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's, some alum from Wisdom Products and some Sappanwood (a near relative of Brazilwood but which is not endangered) from eBay.

The original recipe from Abdeker states: "Take brasil wood and roch-alum, beat them together in a mortar, boil the mass in a sufficient quantity of red wine, until one third is consum'd."

I did some experiments on wine and discovered, surprisingly, that red wine on its own isn't very much of a stain on the skin, and even when it is boiled down to 1/3rd the original it's still not a heavy color on its own -- makes a slightly grayish color on the flesh, really. Could that be what gives the Red Paint the dullness that I like?

I started out with 9 tablespoons of merlot wine, a teaspoon of the sappanwood, and a pinch of alum. I kept it on a low simmer, and allowed 2/3rds of the mix to boil away. When I tested this mix, it wasn't pigmented enough, so I poured in some vodka and water and a little more wine to replace what was boiled away, added two more teaspoons of sappanwood, and started again. This mixture looked too brown, and so after a few minutes I also added several more pinches of alum -- the alum alone seems to be responsible for turning the mixture red, and the sappanwood doesn't seem to become very colorful without it.

The resulting blend of wood and wine was very thick in the pan, almost like gravy or red chile, but once strained it was, of course, a thin liquid mixture. It's actually not easy to distinguish it from wine alone when it's viewed in a glass container.

This final mix was made up from approximately 9 tablespoons of wine, 3 teaspoons sappanwood, and 1/2 teaspoon (4 pinches) of alum crystals, all boiled down to about 3 tablespoons total liquid.

This homemade mixture got a much closer match to the original Ageless Artifice cosmetic than the professional color matcher's blend did, though it was still less heavily pigmented than Ageless Artifice's -- I wonder whether letting it sit around and evaporate will take care of that on its own, or if I ought to add even more sappanwood and alum next time. Currently it is suitable for a blush, but I'm not getting the depth of color needed for the lip cosmetic. It's also still less orange/too purple, which seems to be a common problem... not sure if that means I should add more alum, or if it's just a problem with the sappanwood.

Also, my mixture has kind of an unpleasant stickiness to it that the other version hasn't got. Doubtless that has something to do with the wine. I notice Ageless Artifice actually just lists alcohol and water as their main ingredient -- it doesn't say wine on he label. I always assumed they just listed it that way on the label for legal reasons, but maybe they actually do just use simple rubbing alcohol and water in their rendition? Mine also has a distinctive wine odor to it which theirs does not, so it points to that being the case.

In any event, I did wind up with a proper 18th century rouge (and acceptable for 19th century) so that will do okay for that. I'm starting to think I might never be able to get my favorite lip stain again, though...


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