What It Is and How to Retain It
Date of publication: September 2012
Publisher: British Library
'At night the teeth should be cleaned with a very soft brush of badger's hair.' 'Hair should be brushed for twenty minutes night and morning' 'Paint is used, we believe, by some absurd women, on the lips - we need scarcely say to their ultimate injury and always at the user's peril.' These are a just a selection of the many wisdoms given in the essential guide for women, Beauty, what it is and how to Retain it. First published in 1873, the book rejects any notion that beauty of the physical body should be treated with indifference for fear of moral corruption, and sets out to celebrate beauty and to teach women how to achieve and retain it. All aspects of body shape, the face, complexion, health and dress are covered in this delightful book.
Much of the advice still has relevance to the modern reader, such as the comment that 'perfect cleanliness is essential to the preservation of the teeth', whilst other parts serve as a reminder of the age in which the book was written: 'The water used for washing the skin should be rain-water, but if London rain-water, it must be filtered to clear it from smuts.'Recipes for hair tonics and face creams using such ingredients as beef marrow, lard and borax also highlight how this was still the era of the homemade beauty product.