Saturday, January 26, 2013

Making and wearing Nun's cream and Economical rouge

I finally took the time to make Nun's cream and the Economical rouge, Both recipes are very easy to make and you can see the result here. The white pigment in Nun's cream is Bismuth and as you can see it's shiny, bit doesn't cover up very well. I find that interesting because this is the first white makeup I have tried where the ratio between pigment and other ingredients are clearly stated. It is obviously meant to look like this, not completely covering. I only wear rouge on one cheek just so you can see the difference. I have naturally quite red cheeks and you can see that show through the Nun's cream. The Economical rouge looks really nice in my view. Carmine is a very bright pigment, but the rouge is pretty translucent. I also used it on my lips, which produced a rather natural shade in my view.

I'm also wearing the grey hair powder that I haven't tried on myself before. I'm growing more and more delighted in the effect of powdered hair. It is so far from what is perceived as attractive that I understand why not every one like sit, but I do, more and more.I think the grey powder looks quite nice.

I find it very interesting how these experiments challenge my pre-conceived notion of 18th century makeup. A notion that I admit are very coloured by popular media like movies. The stark white faces and bright red lips seems to have much less with the actual cosmetics of the time than I have ever thought. It is the same with the hair powder. White hair powder are without doubt the most common colour, but powdering hair white doesn't really make hair white unless the hair underneath is very fair. And again and again I find comments and quotes from the 18th century that gives the advice of tinting the powder with grey, brown or yellow (or other colours) to take the edge off of the whiteness and thus making the powder more becoming to wear.

The updated recipes

Nun's cream

2 ml pomade

1 ml Bismuth

Economical rouge

1 ml pomade

An extremely small amount of Carmine, basically a pinheads worth

Being so similar I made them both the way the rouge recipe suggested. I put pomade and pigment on a piece of waxed paper and mixed it toter with my finger. Very easy!

My thoughts

The recipes both assumes that you have pomade. There are a lot of recipes around, but most of them contained oil, bees wax and spermaceti in the 18th century. Todays cold cream are very similar though they obviously don't contain spermaceti and often has mineral oil in them. I used a pomade from Ageless Artifice.  It became quite runny from the warmth of my finger and was easy to spread out. It also became rather sticky so it took some time to get even on the skin, you rally have to work it in with your fingers.

The Nun's cream, as I said above, don't cover very well, but it does lighten the complexion and brightens it too. Bismuth is shimmers but I have also learned something new today. One of the joys of making experiments is that what you have knowledge about because you have read about it, doesn't always hold true when you actually try it. For example, Bismuth was used in the 18th and 19th century as a cheaper alternative to real pearl powder. The Nun's cream may very well have been made with the real article, but Glasse was a middle class woman and also mentions way to keep the pearl powder from discolouring, something real pearl powder doesn't do, but Bismuth may. Contemporary sources describes Bismuth as having a more metallic shimmer and looking more unnatural that real pearl powder. As I have now obtained pearl powder, both home made and bought (Yes, there will be a post about that) I can say that this is true. Real pearl powder isn't very shimmery at all and looks altogether softer and subtler than Bismuth. However, I have also read that Bismuth can be substituted with Titanium dioxide with Mica, which suggest that they look the same. They don't. If Bismuth has more shimmer than pearl powder, the TwM ha even more of metallic shimmer! Shimmer is hard to that pictures of, but I think you can see TwM is more shimmery than the Bismuth here:

I plan a post with all the white pigments I have obtained and one of the things I would like to do then is to try to mica the TwM with something to make it more similar to Bismuth. Now, this isn't necessary if you can use Bismuth of course. It is a very common irritated in powder today, especially in mineral makeup, but it is also not unusual that skin gets irritated by it. Mine for example. I did try it out here just for the sake of curiosity, but washed it away as soon as the photos were taken. So for my skins sake I like to find a pigment mix that looks right and doesn't make me break out.

The rouge worked really well and truly don't need much tweaking. I have been warned that Carmine is a very potent pigment and that you don't need much. I think I might have been a bit too cautious and added a very small pinhead, so the rouge was definitely not over-pigmented. Next time I will add a slightly larger amount of Carmine. I'm sure I will use it again as I liked the colour. I know that it is not to overtones liking to use a pigment that is derived from a louse, but I'm not bothered about it.