Discussion of specific projects
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Post by Louise » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:49 pm

I've put my money where my mouth is and started buying ingredients for cosmetics.
The sage and salt toothpowder is working well, i'll put notes on that when I'm at home.
I've bought queen of hungary water and castille soap as well as lip tint, washballs and comfrey and calendula ointments.

I've bought a sizeable quantity of myrrh to try the mint and myrrh mouthwash - references to be provided when I get home also.

Next on the list is titanium dioxide to make face powder - references and further information when I'm at home

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Re: Cosmetics

Post by Louise » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:51 pm


I now have both a myrrh tincture and a mint tincture stewing away. Both are just mint/myrrh in white wine, following a combination of references that show wine being used as the carrier for mouthwashes. The idea will be to try out two variations of mint and myrrh mouthwash, plus a straight mint mouthwash. One mint/myrrh combo (From a set of recipes by Sally Pointer I think, but not directly referenced) is myrrh tincture in mint tea. The other (from an SCA A&S paper but more convincingly referenced) is mint tincture and myrrh tinture in white wine. Mint mouthwash will be the 'wine steeped with herbs' which appears in several sources.
The myrrh tincture is currently an opaque milky colour - it remains to be seen if this is right or a sign that I stuffed up.

I have also mixed up a batch of white lead-replacement face powder - 50:50 titanium dioxide and talc following Sally Pointer's suggestion (from a document in the KOLR database). When applied with a finger it produces a translucent whitening effect. Now to locate an object with which to apply the powder. This will require more research I think.

Mouthwashes and face powder will be at Winterfest for the cosmetics/hygiene display. Ladies can make a show out of getting dolled up, and the remainder can take turns as demo monkeys and clean their teeth, hands and faces during the course of the day (volunteers? please? I promise not to make anyone rinse with vinegar again!)

I also found a reference to a spice-based powder which is used for hair - both by sprinkling powder into the hair and mixing the powder with rosewater and combing the liquid through (in Goodman of Paris from memory, but I could be getting confused). If I can, I intend to make up some of this too.

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Re: Cosmetics

Post by Hugh » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:51 pm

I volunteer to have someone wash my face & hands with things that smell nice during Winterfest.

I'll also use tooth powder again, it was very tasty and the QLD guys loved it. Speaking of which, we should probably cook up another batch of that given we've got only that one small pot remaining.

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Re: Cosmetics

Post by Ellen » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:27 pm

This sounds amazing, I'm definately happy to help with the cosmetics display :)
Let me know if there is anything I can help with.

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Re: Cosmetics

Post by Selin » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:38 pm

Wow, cool!

I make for a friendly guinea pig. Even if it does involve vinegar. :)

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Re: Cosmetics

Post by Louise » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:41 pm

All the current cosmetic concoctions got a workout over Winterfest and Abbey. Here is what I found. If you were a guinea pig, or saw it in action, please add any comments you have.

Face powder
At home, I tried applying (on back of hand) with a feather (a stiff trimmed feather from Lincraft), a brush (round, soft kabuki-style brush) and my fingertip. The feather is hardest to use and needs more experimentation with different types and application methods to make a proper assessment. Using a fingertip works, but is pretty slow. I will retry that one at a later stage too.
Both the Winterfest show display and my own personal use for Abbey used the brush. Using the brush in circular motions (like applying a modern powder foundation) works well and gives a fairly even finish with a fair amount of control over the whitening effect if its done carefully. The big issue with this is that I have no evidence whatsoever for the use of brushes to apply powder, apart from the fact that I thik they had access to brushes for use in painting and its a method that could work, and I have absolutely zero evidence for brushes with the bristles arranged in a fat round shape like the kabuki brush. More research is required into the effectiveness of various methods and any literary or pictoral references for application of makeup and brush shapes.

The powder itself worked well. By Abbey I was getting a definite whitening effect which took my skintone to a level which seemed very white by modern standards but which did not look cakey or clown-like. We did discover though that poor application or any dryness or oiliness in the skin could result in blotches or obvious lines and powder marks. I think practice and more research into application will help avoid this.

The mint in wine mouthwash seemed ot be generally effective. I ended up watering down the wine because of a very distinct 'wine' flavour, and because the wine I used had a strong flavour that I am not sure would have been there in period wines. More thought and research are needed for this one. I may also need to increace the amount of mint to ensure there is a more distinct mint flavour (although query whether this is necessary)

For mint and Myrrh, I made teh Sally pointer recipe to make sure there was a distinct difference for the show between the 2 mouthwashes on display. The result was a very strong but not unpleasant mint taste which mostly disguised the bitter myrrh flavour. The smell was lovely and the mouthwash had a distinctly astringent effect in the mouth. I forgot to check how much of a scent was left on peoples breath after use to compare wiht the poem.
The myrrh tincture had settled somewhat over the weeks since I made it and was clear and redidsh at the top of the bottle, with the milky colour below and a distinct layer of myrrh resin underneath. Online research suggests this is normal. It smelt clean and spicy and mixed easily into the tea.

Hair combing water
I made a somewhat bastardised version of this for Winterfest.
The original is (I discovered) from Trotula. It calls for dried roses, cloves, watercress, nutmeg and galangal (from memory) mixed and added to rose water. I couldn't find dried roses, watercress powder or galangal at short notice, so I left out roses and watercress and used ginger instead of galangal. The watercress (from online searching) doesn't have a scent of its own but acts as an odour absorber and may have been believed to have some health properties (further research on both points required) and the dried roses I thought would be compensated for by the rose water. The resulting liquid smelt very spicy and had that scent we've come to know from the common cooking combinations. When a comb dipped in the liquid was used to comb hair, there was a distinct smell left in the hair. All in all, very pleasant and one which will probably be used again.

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