Beats the hell out of pinching

Yesterday’s post mentions I don’t wear face powder. Good thing it was yesterday because I haven’t figured out how to link back to another post. I have got to find some time and read all the technical tips.  Anyway I don’t wear face powder but I do have a few vintage compacts, one with shea butter the other has rouge. Not blush, rouge.  Although cosmetic use has been around for a long, long time it wasn’t until the 1920’s that retail cosmetics became widely available. Local drugstore chemists and  apothecaries made them or you made your own.  Beet juice for lips and cheeks, burnt matchsticks and hot wax for eyes and lashes and rice powder for faces were among the items girls used to make-up. And they looked fabulous. You know me, I want to do it 1920 style.

I love making beauty products and household products.  The reasons are many. I like the idea of using simple products, much the same as a gal would have used 100 years ago. I prefer as few products in my home as possible.  I LOVE saving money. And honestly I feel just a bit smug at not falling for the marketing, brand name hype.  I am however, a sucker for a little vintage pot or compact. So I fill them with shea butter, melted down lipstick or rouge.

Rouge is fairly simple to make although there are some old formulas with scary ingredients like ammonia and hydrochloric acid.  They are not needed.But color and a base/fixative are.  Carmine and safflower were most widely used for color.  The base was for dry rouge was usually talc and some sort of oil. Liquid rouge usually had a glycerin base. Essential oils or cologne to fragrance and that’s it.  The recipes I use are as follows

Classic Rouge

1/2 oz Carmine

2 oz french talc

1 oz of oil( sweet almond or olive)

fragrance oil of choice(rose oil traditionally)

Sift the carmine and talc together (I just shake in a jar) Add the oil and mix thouroughly. Press into compact with finger then place wax paper on top and lay something heavy on it to shape. You could even stamp a design into it.

I like to add a little shea butter and beeswax to make a creamy rouge.

If you like more of a stain( like Benetint):

Shred a beet root. Place in an old pot and barely cover with water. Boil until beet is limp and liquid is red/purple. Let stand until cool.

Strain into a measuring cup. Add the exact amount of glycerin to the amount of  beet water you end up with. ( I have seen a few beet stain recipes and none tell you this. Glycerin is a humectant and draws moisture. You want to even it out with the water so it doesn’t draw from your skin).

Test on your skin.You may need to apply more than once if too light.  If too dark add glycerin/water mix until desired color is acheived.


Take a Mason Jar and steep Alkanet root in sweet or olive oil(just enough to cover)3 or 4 days standing in the sun  minimum. Add to your oil the exact same amount of gycerin/water mix. Play around with amounts untill you get tint you want. Add essential oil or cologne fragrance of choice to scent(if desired). Again you may add vitamin E to preserve.

Fill into a cute vintage style bottle. I store mine in a bit of an unusual container, I’ll have a post about it soon as I take a flick. Glycerin is a preservative so this will keep a long time but you can add a little liquid vitamin E if you want to be extra sure.

Carmine is available online at diy makeup shops.

Alkanet root is available at health stores and online in herb stores.

Don’t forget for an authentic vintage look apply to apples of cheeks only!

Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Mommy did know best

Remember the scene in Mommy Dearest where Joan’s character played of course to gay obsession perfection by the lovely Faye Dunaway is shown waking every morning to wash her face and then plunge it into a sink of ice? I’m sure you remember the wire hangers scene where she’ s shown in the middle of the night face slathered in moisturizer. Ms Crawford knew what to do to make sure her face was camera ready. After basic good health habits such as good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water what are the two golden rules of skin care? We all know it’s having clean,exfoliated and moisturized skin. The ice water dip(or at the very least a cold water blast in the shower, same as recommended for your hair) is a good routine to add as well.
For centuries Europeans have gone to bathhouses to detoxify and tighten their skin. The process- a steamroom session followed by cold pool plunge to shock skin and closed pores is now a spa staple but easy to replicate at home. Although skin care with all it’s chemical peels, dermabrasion, and botox is now a billion dollar a year industry, we can(and I do) take care of my skin in much the same way Ms Crawford and the ladies before her did with beautiful healthy results.

Dermatologists top recommendations for skin are mild cleansing nightly , exfoliation, moisturizing skin and wearing sunscreen at all times(admittedly a step not used except in recent times but vintage ladies were usually a lot more covered up with hats, umbrellas and more modest clothing). Nothing new there.

I accomplish the first two steps both cleansing and exfoliation by washing with a washcloth(the cheaper the better cheap ones are nubbier perfect for scrubbing away dead skin cells) I buy a pack of ten or twelve for $5 at Family Dollar or Dollar General. When I was younger I used Neutrogena soap but as I started getting older it started to be a bit drying. I switched to fhomemade cold process soap. Some days my face can’t handle even that and I use a cream non soap cleanser Sunscreen on top if I’m going to be in the sun(I don’t wear every day, I admit I just can’t believe it’s needed for a 30 second walk to the car). The only makeup I wear regularly is lipstick and eyebrow pencil so at night I use just a HOT wet washcloth followed by a cold rinse and raw shea butter as a moisturizer.Once a week I use a pumice scrub head to toe. Thats all I need and I bet thats all most women need. There are no secrets or magic in skin care, some women may need extra moisture or blemish treatment but those be easy and cheap as well. Nothing our grandmothers couldn’t handle.

What was good enough for beautiful vintage ladies like Ms Crawford and Ms Dunaway is good enough for me.

Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde

Joan Crawford