Monday, January 21, 2013

Tips From The Renaissance Spa

Beauty is as beauty does, and in the Renaissance the doing was a complicated art that was taken quite seriously.

Herbal essence: Elder flowers improves skin tone.  Rosemary restores the hair.  Geranium leaves color the cheeks.  Brushing with sage whitenes the teeth.  For that fresh breath moment, try a little spiced wine as a mouthwash.

Tudor cosmetics, Barley Hall

For skin as smooth as Mary Queen of Scots', bathe daily in elderberry wine.  

 Mary Queen of Scots, 1559

If you're planning on getting used to this luxury, take steps to see that you're not imprisoned -- pressed elderberries aren't on the dungeon menu.  

Joely Richardson as Queen Elizabeth, Anonymous (2011)

Want a supple white complexion?  Soak raw veal in hot milk for several hours.  Then place the veal on your cheeks and watch it work its wonderful magic on your ruddy cheeks.

Secret formula of "The Early of Oxford's Perfume", worn exclusively until now by Queen Elizabeth: Add eight grains of musk to eight spoonfuls of rose water, with three spoonfuls of damask water and a quarter ounce of sugar; boil five hours and strain.

Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

Want to be an egghead?  Wear egg whites and honey to condition your skin.  To erase those wrinkles, slap on layers of white lead --and now that necklines have taken a plunge, do remember to dab some on your neck and bosom, too.  For a spot of color in your cheeks, rub on some mercuric sulphide.

Better still, when in England, wash your face with your own urine to keep your complexion smooth and pale.  (For the squeamish: one part rose water, one part wine).

For a brisk, cleansing body rub, mix rosemary, cedar, and turpentine with alcohol.  Dip sponges into this mixture and squeeze out into your body and hair.  Stay away from an open flame unless you really want to be a hot number!

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger


  1. Ewwww, urine? I've never heard that one before!! Thanks for posting this =) I'm going to bookmark this for later use!!

    1. Nat - I know, too gross for words! I'll stick with the one part rose water, one part wine, thank you very much.

      Glad you liked the post. =)

  2. Some of these things don't sound pleasant, but I do wonder if the herbs/flowers worked!

    1. Carrie - Some of these things sound downright crazy! But bathing in elderberry wine doesn't sound too bad. ;)