The Face of the Industrial Revolution
By imagining the people who lived during the Industrial Revolution, it is easy to imagine the characters in a Charles Dickens novel. It's easy to imagine cities filled with Oliver Twists and David Copperfield. In some ways, this picture is accurate. The first half of the nineteenth century saw many major technological advances. The invention of the steam engine has made manufacturing and transportation much easier and dozens of large plants have sprung up in the space of a few years. New mining techniques have been developed to produce the coal needed to power the new plants. Rural citizens, looking for work, have started migrating to big cities like London and New York. The air was indeed filled with a Dickensian smog, but the industrial revolution also had a profound effect on skin care products and cosmetic use. As the average wage increased, a growing number of ordinary citizens were able to provide soaps and make-up previously inaccessible.
A Moral Dilemma
By the end of the eighteenth century -up had been deemed inappropriate for all except prostitutes and actors. Although this attitude persisted for most of the nineteenth century, women received some cosmetic exceptions. Pale skin was still considered a high birth mark and while the heavy lead powders of a century earlier were no longer used, they were replaced by a thin layer of lead oxide. zinc. Zinc oxide offered the benefit of a lightened complexion, but it was more subtle and more natural than the powder that had been so popular before. The subtle eyeshadow made from lampblack was also popular, although lipstick and cheeks remained taboo. While many women were still mixing their own cosmetics, modern manufacturing techniques had made mass production of these products much easier. Although the use of manufactured cosmetics has been extremely popular, it has not been deemed appropriate to buy or sell beauty products. For this reason, most stores sold them under the counter. **
Despite the stigma surrounding cosmetic and skincare products, some women spoke out to promote their use. In 1833, Jacobine Weiler published a book titled "Female Cosmetics, or the Secret Art of Perfecting Beauty and Health and Retaining it in Old Age" which promoted cosmetic use as a help of beauty. While respectable women could not be seen buying red lips or cheeks, many recipes have been published describing the methods of making lip cream at home. The recipes included common ingredients such as butter, wax and natural mussels made from currants and tictoria alkaline plants. ***
For all women who advocated cosmetic use, there were many others. -up was the first step towards a life of sin. Many books dedicated to the defamation of cosmetics have also been published. "The Book of Godey's Lady", for example, was published around the middle of the century. He suggested that instead of trying to cover the imperfections with makeup, women should rely solely on "moral cosmetics," which included sleeping and avoiding such pesky hobbies As the game and beverage
methods have been refined, the price of many hygiene products has become cheaper and more readily available. While scented soaps had been considered a luxury item half a century earlier, soap was now commonplace in all but the poorest homes. Because women could no longer hide behind a thick layer of powder, there was a much stronger accent on naturally beautiful skin. Aggressive cleaners were easier to produce, but they were often ignored in exchange for more natural ingredients for skin care. Egg yolks, honey and oatmeal were all commonly used to soften the skin and help lessen blemishes. Lemon juice was sometimes used to naturally whiten the skin some lighter shades. Although naturally radiant health may have been the appearance of choice in the early nineteenth century, however, it would soon give way to the frail and sickly look of the Victorian era.
** Learn more makeup of the nineteenth century here: http://www.localhistories.org/cosmetics.html
*** Learn more about industrial advocates of the Cosmetic here: http: //www.cosmetic-business.com/en/showartikel.php?art_id=1409