Beauty History: Beauty Tips from Lola Montez

Nowadays, beauty and makeup books written by both makeup artists and magazines’ editors and journalists sharing the tricks of their trade abound. Women (and men too) rush to buy them to learn the secrets on how to apply blush, how to properly care for skin, what tools and products should never miss in their stash and more from the experts.

And just like these experts today decided to make money by publishing books, so did Lola Montez with her book The Arts Of Beauty in 1859. Who was Lola to be such an expert on beauty? Born in Ireland, (her real name was Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld) she was a dancer and actress (although not a very good one), courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria!

Because of her lifestyle, this lady knew a thing or two about beauty! In the 1850s she moved to America and needing money, she reinvented herself as a lecturer. Some of her lectures were about beauty and because they were successful, soon the book followed. So, I thought it’d be nice to share some of Lola’s recipes and advices with you and see if they are still valuable today.

The three secrets of beauty

According to Lola, the secret of beauty lies in three simple words: exercise, temperance and cleaniness. And how true is that!

Exercise: Lola thought, and rightly so, that to develop beauty, a woman had to be healthy. And already in the nineteenth century, she recommended getting plenty of vigorous exercise in the open air to stay fit.

Temperance: Lola also knew that excesses and lack of beauty sleep would take its toll on health and appearance. “A young lady, were she as fair as Hebe, as charming as Venus herself, would soon destroy it all by too high living and late hours”.

Cleaniness: “The frequent use of the tepid bath is the best cosmetic I can recommend to my readers in this connection” (the pursuit of beautiful skin). “By such ablutions the accidental corporeal impurities are thrown off, cutaneous obstructions removed; and while the surface of the body is preserved in its original brightness many threatening disorders are prevented.”

Beauty recipes

In her book, Lola also shares lots of homemade beauty recipes to make people look their best:

1. Brightening facial wash:
“Take equal parts of the seeds of the melon pumpkin gourd and cucumber, pounded till they are reduced to powder; add to it sufficient fresh cream to dilute the flour, and then add milk enough to reduce the whole to a thin paste. Add a grain of musk, and a few drops of the oil of lemon. Anoint the face with this, leave it on twenty or thirty minutes, or overnight if convenient, and roash off with warm water. It gives a remarkable purity and brightness to the complexion.” Apparently this was a very popular recipes among French women at the time.

2. Increase the size of your bosom
Apparently, Lola also had a diy recipes for those women that wanted a bigger chest. The ingredients are as follows:

– Tincture of myrrh 1/2 oz
– Pimpernel water 4 oz
– Elder flower water 4 oz
– Musk 1 gr
– Rectified spirits of wine 6 oz

Simply mix the ingredients together and rub the mixture on your bosom for 5 or 10 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.

3. Tooth powder
Lola knew that to have perfect teeth washing them after every meal was mandatory. And she has a recipe for this too! “I need not remind the ladies that clean white teeth are indispensable to a beautiful month, The lady who neglects to brush her teeth with pure cold water after every meal, not only loses the benefit of the natural whiteness of her teeth but she renders herself liable to have the disgusting evil of an impure breath. The best tooth powder I know of is made as follows:

Prepared chalk 6 oz
Cassia powder oz
Orris root 1 oz

These should be thoroughly mixed and used once a day with a firm brush.”

4. Hand pomade
And what’s the point of having a beautiful face if your hands are ugly and show your age? Lola came to the rescue of the nineteenth century women with this easy recipe used by French and Spanish women that would make hands soft and pretty: “Both Spanish and French women – those at least who are very particular to make the most of these charms – are in the habit of sleeping in gloves which are lined or plastered over with a kind of pomade to improve the delicacy and complexion of their hands. This paste is generally made of the following ingredients.

Take half a pound of soft soap, a gill of salad, oil an ounce of mutton tallow, and boil them till they are thoroughly mixed. After the boiling has ceased, but before it is cold, add one gill of spirits of wine, and a grain of musk.”

These are just some of the many recipes and tips Lola provides in her book. A must read for those interested in beauty secrets of the past, you can read the entire book, The Arts of Beauty at Google Books. If instead, you want to know more about Lola and her fascinating life, Scandalous Women has two posts about her: you can find the first one here and the second one here. Yep, Lola’s life was too interesting to fit only in one post!

10 Comment

  1. That was a terrific post! I really enjoyed it. I wish more people would think of things like that. Keep up the good work and I’m going to check out that book. :)

    • Eleanor, thank you! I love both history and beauty and posts like this allow me to combine these two passions of mine. I’m planning of writing more posts like this in the future. :) And do check it out, it’s such an interesting read. :)

    • Khayla, rectified spirits of wine is a concentrated solution of ethanol in water, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

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