#ADBeauty – 18th Century Cosmetics and Hair Care Products

Cynthia applied 18th century rouge in The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty.

“The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty” is a how-to book broken into what could be considered three sections – cosmetics, hairstyles, and accessories.

The first chunk of book deals with the cosmetics and hair care products because you need these to accurately do all of the styles that come after this chapter. The pomade and powder are the foundation of understanding how hair was cleaned and styled in the 18th century, so we spend quite a few pages explaining what these items are, how and why they were used, and then the fun part…making your own!
A sample page from the AD Beauty book showing the step-by-step for making Mareschal Pomatum.
The recipes in the book come from primary sources like Toilet De Flora (1772) and Plocacosmos (1782), among others. These books have multiple recipes for various types of pomades, powders, rouges, paints, perfumes, and dyes, some of which contain ingredients that are not available today. We went with the simplest and most accessible recipes, all with natural and safe ingredients easily obtained.
Hair powder, the original dry shampoo – learn how to make this very easy recipe and never run out of hair powder again.
It’s important to note that while we use safe, natural, and easily sourced ingredients in all of the recipes of this book, we do not compromise on the historical accuracy and efficacy of these products. We make very few substitutions and the ones we did make were either cited in other primary sources as alternatives (example: coco butter in place of mutton tallow for lip salve) or were the closest we could get to the original ingredient no longer available in the quality it was back then (example: corn starch in place of wheat starch). Most recipes contain no substitutions at all, such as the pomatum and rouge, which are made with animal fats and brandy, respectively.
Throughout the chapters on cosmetics we try to bust some common myths. You’ve probably heard or seen some of these before, like…
  • They must have smelled bad.
  • Their hair was full of rats, lice, and vermin.
  • They wore white face paint and all looked like clowns.
  • Everyone’s hair was powdered white or they all wore white wigs.
  • Hair powder was made of flour and that’s why the French Revolution happened.
Spoiler Alert: None of these things are true.
Applying white hair powder to Abby’s 1750 style, a popular trend in the mid-18th century.
We hope you enjoy the essays, recipes, and resulting hair care products. You’ll love the deep conditioning of the pomatum, the volume-boosting power of the hair powder (the original dry shampoo), and the natural rosy flush of the lip salve and rouge.
“The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty” comes out July 9, 2019. It’s available to order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AmericanDuchess.com (for signed copies), and all major booksellers.


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