Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mystery Solved -- Cold Cream is from Galen! Here's Galen's Cold Cream Recipe

I recently got lucky and was featured on Metafilter, specifically my post on Cold Cream History. This inspired me to try looking again for some of Galen's recipes, since it happens that new texts get added to places like Google Books and Project Gutenberg, and sometimes a text that was not available in the past becomes available.

I got lucky a second time, and found that Open Library has put up Galen's De Compositione Medicamentorum from an edition of 1530. I don't read Latin splendidly, but I can read it well enough to know I found the passage I was looking for:

Reperi solum ad compositionem idoneam eruginem et ceram: quibus acceptis, et ad ignem cera liquefacta cum oleo rhodino, ut liqui dum ceratum fieret, miscui cerati librae unciam unum eruginis, hoc est duodecima partem: statui enim decimam vel duodecimam temperare: suspicatus quidem majorem, ut acriorem cera futuram, minorem tanquam imbecilliorem.

Again, I've rather poor Latin, but it appears to be made just from beeswax, "erugino" (probably rust or verdigris) and rose oil (and for those who didn't get the memo before, that's vegetable oil infused with rose petals, NOT essential oil of rose) melted together -- no other emulsifiers, waters or preservatives, which makes it more of a pomatum. The addition of water and vinegar seems to be a Medieval innovation. We also lost the "erugino" which may be either a colorant or something believed by Galen to have another medicinal property (verdigris, for example, was once considered good for wounds.) This assumes I have a correct translation for erugino -- who knows, maybe it is a liquid?

This answers that question I'd long wondered -- namely, whether cold cream really was an invention of Galen's or if it was just attributed to him by later sources. It seems, from this, that the basis of the mixture is his, but it has come a long way since then with many recipes including changes and new ingredients like mineral oil, borax, rosewater, and more.

It may also be worth mentioning for these historical purposes that Rose Oil in ancient times could mean a more complex bouquet than simple roses. Pliny the Elder, writing about 75 years before Galen, described how Rose Oil of earlier times was "of the most simple nature, though more recently there have been added omphacium, rose blossoms, cinnabar, calamus, honey, sweet-rush, flour of salt or else alkanet, and wine." (Funny that rose blossom [flore rosae] would be a new addition, though perhaps he means the whole flower compared to just petals?) So it's not impossible that Galen's original rose cerate might have had vinegar or honey or some other ingredient via the rose oil he used.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Madame X's Lip Rouge

As previously mentioned, I used up the last of my Red Paint for the Face this Halloween. After the unsuccessful color-matching attempt, I've been scouting commercial cosmetics trying to find a close match.

Let's view our contenders...

Mineral Fusion, Adorn
First we have Mineral Fusion's Sheer Moisture Lip Tint, in the color Adorn. Kind of a brown-red hue, transparent, glistening, moisturizing.

Christina's Natural Qualities, Provocative
The next is Christina's Natural Qualities in the hue Provocative, being a matte, long-wearing color in an orangey-earth tone.

Both of these were found a bit off the beaten path -- one at the local Whole Foods, the other at the local herbal medicine shop. I think these are so far my nearest matches to the Red Paint, and if only either one made a halfway decent rouge I'd be all set.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Return of Madame X



For Halloween this year, the Madame X costume reemerged. This time, I decided to wear it with historically correct makeup -- the whiting, powder, and the very last of my Ageless Artifice Red Paint for the Face, plus some black eye pencil. I didn't bother with coloring my hair this time. I also didn't have anymore white feathers so I just put a jewel in my hair, but the effect actually came out looking more like the final painting.

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