How did our great-grandmothers take care of their beauty?
In our modern world, the shelves in the drugstores are loaded with various products. We can choose from a whole range of cosmetics and personal care items offered to us are sold in series dedicated to different types of complexion, specific age groups or as part of a particular fragrance line. We are given a limitless selection of products. However, as recently as a hundred years ago, ladies who wished to take care of their external beauty took most of the care products directly from nature.
Hair and eyelashes
Hard soap was widely used as a cosmetic to wash the entire body, including the head. Moisturizing hair masks that most of us can’t do without today, were replaced by egg yolks mixed with oil (typically castor oil) and lemon juice. Such a mask added shine to hair strands and prevented frizz. Beer, on the other hand, was used as a rinse or a hair-styling agent (it has a stiffening effect). Freshly picked nettle infusion served as a remedy to fight against dandruff while strengthening hair and preventing its loss. Camomile infusion rinse made hair strands lighter and softer and left them with gentle herbal scent. In order to highlight the eyelashes and nourish the structure of tiny hairs, our great-grandmothers made use of castor oil, vaseline or olive oil.
Cucumber, known for its refreshing and brightening properties, was applied in slices directly to face. A potato mask had equally beneficial effect as it tightened and firmed the skin. With such a natural mask applied to their faces, our great-grandmothers would relax after a hard, stressful day. A more sophisticated method of caring for the skin was rubbing the face with slices of turnip, a vegetable rich in vitamins and microelements (turnip, however, may irritate sensitive skin). Occasionally, a lady could treat herself to a nourishing mask that contained cottage cheese, honey, lemon juice and skimmed milk.
Hands and fingernails
If you managed to obtain products such as oil or lemon, you could perform a luxurious fingernail treatment at home – all it took was to add a few drops of lemon juice to the water and use it as a hand soak. A milk and honey bath would soothe the chapped skin of the hands.
It was even more difficult to get hold of make-up cosmetics than body care products at the time when our great-grandmothers were young. That is not to say that the eldest ladies in the family did not enhance their beauty. They proved their skill in this regard as well often making use of natural dyeing ingredients. The color of their lips and blushes were highlighted with…beetroot juice! They successfully replaced the eyeliner with black carbon. The color of hair could be darkened through drinking strong black tea infusion or oat bark infusion. The rhubarb root, on the other hand, had brightening properties. Nevertheless, it is good to remember that you should not always uncritically test beauty tips passed from generation to generation on yourself. Applying oil to the scalp and hair with the aim of achieving “a moisturizing effect” or abstaining from washing hair for 3 weeks to prevent it from drying are not preferable solutions nowadays. Our great-grandmothers and grandmothers did not have the knowledge of cosmetics that we now possess – information on the recent research and harmful ingredients was not available to them and they may not have been fully aware of the consequences of long-time use of their favorite personal care items. Therefore, it might be a good idea to use family meetings as the opportunity to share with your dear grandmas the knowledge that you already possess ;)
Tips included in Every Woman’s Book of Health and Beauty