If you have read My Fair Bluestocking, then you are aware that young Jane Davis adores her fashion plates, sewing and clothing.
This leads to the obvious conclusion that she would enjoy keeping up on the latest beauty treatments of the era.
If you guessed that this sent me off on a research tangent ... well, I would say you are one smart reader.
For this particular rabbit hole of research, I could have scrolled endlessly through Regency blogs, websites and articles but I confess I took the easy way out and bought a compendium of Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery and Etiquette from the year 1820.
To be clear, it wasn't compiled in 1820, but it is packed with recipes, directions and instructions curated from a variety of English and French publications of the era.
In case you are wondering, that makes this book the size of a telephone directory!
Here you can see it with my large Jane Austen coffee cup for scale. The Lady's Stratagem by Francis Grimble is one really, really large cheat sheet!
It is an amazing resource to understand how the ladies of the period took care of themselves.
Irritated by pesky cuticles? There is an answer to that!
The Mode of ridding the Nails of the Skin which sometimes covers them.
As for the over skin which deforms the finger-nails, you must check it by using your thumb to push the skin on the edge of the nail as far as possible. The longer the nails are on the first joint, the more graceful they are. If you have neglected this measure, and as a result of chilblains or any other misfortune an over skin grows on your nails, push it down often, as much as you can without causing pain. YOu may dip your finger in water now and then, so that the over skin yields more readily.
Does your complexion appear lackluster? Dull? Need to firm and clarify your skin? No worries!
Angel-water to firm and freshen the Skin.
Infuse myrtle flowers in water, then distill them, and you will obtain a perfumed water which will render your flesh firm and brilliant.
Afraid to smile because of the condition of your not-so-pearly whites? Worrying about decay? Here is one of several answers to that problem!
Soap Solutions to whiten and preserve the Teeth.
Mix two parts of essence of purified toilet-soap with one part brandy, and a drachm of pulverized Spanish chamomile. Pur a finger of it into a glass, add a little water, dip the tooth-brush into this mixture, and rub your teeth.
You may also simply dissolve a little perfumed soap in water mixed with brandy, Cologne water, or spirit of scurvy-grass.
On that last sentence ... yuck?
It does provide some perspective why French women were in such high demand as lady's maids! They must have boasted an encyclopedic knowledge of all things beauty related.
Just think, Jane Austen herself could have tried some of these remedies herself!
Very soon, insomniac Jane Davis will have too much time on her hands, so perhaps she will be experimenting with a new beauty treatment of her own. Find out if her new recipe succeeds or fails!