Monday, May 21, 2007

Chemical peels, Regency style

Miracle face creams have been in the news a lot recently, with the Boots face cream selling out almost instantly, but what did women do in the Regency era in order to preserve their beauty? Surprisingly, their beauty treatments were much the same as ours, in style if not in composition.

In Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot encouraged Mrs Clay to use Gowland's lotion. Gowlands lotion was a commercial preparation that contained mercuric chloride, so in fact it acted as a chemical peel. No wonder Sir Walter thought the ladies' complexions were 'fresher' after they'd used it!

Information courtesy of The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan, editrix of Austenblog


Melinda said...

The Bath Chronicle for Aug 1787 has " "Royal Chemical Wash Ball" for whitening & softening the skin leaving not the least grain of paint or anything pernicious on the face. So safe it may be eaten." Hmm - not convinced. I do like the idea of Dr Sparkle's lotion for inflamed eyes, tho.

Megan said...

In Wilkie Collins's Law and the Lady (which is, admittedly, quite a bit post-Regency) arsenic is mentioned as a solution to a bad complexion...and several other 'problems'. :)