Beautifying the body and treating cosmetic conditions has long been associated with Herbal and Traditional Medicine. The earliest types of cosmetic preparations such as distilled waters and creams were prepared by apothecaries and herbalists. While not directly medicinal, keeping someone looking and feeling healthy contributes to greater self esteem, confidence and a more positive view of oneself.
To Cleanse and Beautify the Skin
Topically (wash or distilled water):
Cowslip water, Rosemary boiled in white wine, Soloman's Seal water or ointment, Yarrow water or creams,
1. Wash the Face with Rose Water, or Rosemary boiled in white wine, or Violet's infused in Goat's Milk,
2. Distilled Water of Solomans Seal was commended, the herb being used since the time of Galen.
3. A little Benzoin Tincture in Rose Water was known as Virgins Milk. It cleanses and beautifies the skin.
4. Tinctures of Vanilla and Benzoin in Rose water
5. Water distilled from hard-boiled Egg whites make the skin 'shine with smoothness'.
6. Alum, Egg white and Rose water, used topically
7. Wash the face with a decoction of Lovage to whiten and clarify the Face.
8. For soft and fair skin, small Lemons, dry Figs, Elecampane (equal parts), beat them well. Add boiled wheat and boil them all together in 1 part Vinegar and 2 parts Water. Wash the face with it often. (The Secrets of Alexis, 1615)
To Removes Spots, Freckles and Blemishes
Topically (wash or distilled water):
Elder Flower water, Fenugreek meal, Fumitory water (or the herb boiled in whey), Pimpinella, Scarlet Pimpernel, Tansy
1. Lemon juice or vinegar, diluted with a little water.
2. Orris and Almond meal as a scrub
a. bean meal or flowers for Freckles and other spots of the skin, used as a scrub
b. distilled water of Bean flowers removes spots, freckles and wrinkles (Culpeper)
4. Peas: as a wash or scrub to cleanse and beautify the skin; freckles, discoloration
5. Oatmeal boiled in Vinegar and applied clears spots and freckles of the skin (Culpeper).
1. Centaury juice or decoction as a wash cleanses the skin of spots and Freckles
2. 'the liquor in the Blisters [of the Elm tree] is cosmetic; and takes away Pimples, Spots and Freckles from the Face' (Salmon)
3. Paste of Red Sandalwood (with Rose water etc.) is applied to skin spots and freckles in India.
4. Scarlet Pimpernel removes spots and freckles.
5. Tansy is 'cosmetic, to take off Freckles, Sun-burn and Morphew’ (Culpeper)
6. Distilled water of Fumitory was used to clear the skin, remove spots and freckles
7. Distilled Water of Arum cleanses spots and brightens the skin. Or else the juice may be applied.
8. Typhonium Bai Fu Zi is similar to Arum and is likewise used in TCM in cosmetic preparations.
9. Anoint with Bryony juice.
10. Alum boiled in water and used as a wash.
To Whiten the Skin:
1. Fumitory water used as a wash
2. White Lily water used as a wash
3. Decoction of Cumin seed and Turmeric used as a wash makes the skin fair. (Ayurveda)
1. Rosemary Water, Water Lily Water, Southernwood Water, any one used as a face wash.
2. Ointment or Distilled Water of Cowslips
3. Cast powder of Myrrh onto a hot iron plate, then sprinkle with wine so the fumes rise better. Hold your face over a little distance away and the fumes with fill up the wrinkles.
4. Take an old Capon, feathers and bowels removed and stuff him with small Lemons cut and Fennel seed. Distil and wash the face with this water to remove wrinkles. (The Secrets of Alexis, 1615)
5. Make an iron pan hot, sprinkle it with wine, and allow the steam to cover the face, and wipe it off with linen cloth. Then in the same hot pan sprinkle Myrrh and allow the fumes to cover the face, the head being covered with a towel to keep in the smoke. Then bind the face with linen cloth and sleep. Repeat for 15 days.
1. Blanched Almonds
Rice 8 oz. each
Bean-flour 16 oz.
Myrrh 2 oz.
Camphor 1 ½ oz.
Soap 20 oz.
Mix well together and used to wash the face. (Pharmacopoeia Generalis, 1783)
2. ROUTINE FOR BEAUTIFUL SOFT SKIN
To make the skin soft and smooth, wash well with warm water, dry it, then wash with water that has had Wheat Bran boiled in it. After, dry and apply a little oil of sweet almonds. Doing this every night before bed makes the skin soft and beautiful.
3. COSMETIC WATER.
Soloman’s Seal root,
flowers of Lily of the Valley,
Broom and Lovage; Asphodel
root, Bryony root, White Lily
root 1 handful ea.
Cut and bruise, add Honey 4 oz., Rhenish wine 2 pounds; infuse until they putrefy, then distill in an Alembic; add the distillate to the remnants in the still, distill again, and repeat a third time. To the distillate, add 1 dram of powdered Camphor.
It was said to make a most precious Cosmetic water for the face. (Dr. Henry Pauli)
4. SWEET POWDER
Rice flour 4 oz.
Sandalwood ½ dram
Rose 1 scruple
Camphor 5 grains
Mix and use as a scrub or mask.
5. COSMETIC POWDER
Sweet Almond 2 lbs.
Orris, of each 4 oz.
Salt of Tartar
Spermaceti, of each 1 oz.
Essential oils of:
Clove, of each 30 drops
Form a powder to be used as a scrub or face wash. (Pharmacopoea Wirtenbergica, 1785)
6. SPECIFIC for BLACKHEADS.
Almond Meal 8 oz.
Orris root, powdered 4 oz.
Castile Soap 1 oz.
Powder and mix finely. To use, mix a little of the powder with hot water and form a paste. Massage this onto the skin, especially where the blackheads are. Repeat several times, then rinse with cool water.
7. ‘GRANDMOTHER’S BEAUTY BATH’.
Dried Lavender flowers
Bay leaves, of each 1 lb.
Rice, of each 2 lbs.
Borax, of each 8 oz.
Boil for 1 hour in a sufficient amount of water and add 2 quarts to the bath.