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LBCC Historical Cosmetics Review

In my everyday life, I rarely wear any makeup. To be honest, I’ve always found more than a swipe of mascara and some tinted lip balm to be intimidating. Still, over the years I’ve learned to use modern cosmetics to recreate a historic look, and overall, I’ve been pleased with my efforts. However, I’ve been curious about historic cosmetics and hair products for a long time, and decided to try a few from LBCC Historical to see how they work for me.

Pearl Powder and An Excellent Paint for the Face

First, let me talk about pearl powder, aka my new best friend. I bought it on a whim, completely intrigued by the idea of a face powder made from just pearls, as well as the tag line that it was “only for the curious and rich”. I have very dry sensitive skin, and every powder I’ve tried in the past has accentuated this problem to varying degrees, even with lots of moisturizing beforehand. Not this magical stuff! It just seemed to melt onto my skin, softening everything and giving me a porcelain look. It did lighten my complexion slightly, but not dramatically. Really, this stuff works better than anything I’ve tried before. I’m in love! It’s definitely going in my historical makeup routine, and on the rare occasions I feel like being fancy, my everyday makeup too. My only minor complaint is at first the tin is incredibly hard to open. The little metal tins are always finicky, but the powder gets trapped between the tin and the lid and makes it extra difficult to open. However, the more I’ve been using the tin, the easier it is to open. Just beware the first time you try to open it so you don’t spill powder all over your vanity (oops!).
Now for the white face paint. This is something I’ve been very curious about for years, but also a bit daunted by. I don’t wear much makeup in real life; how am I going to feel about something so artificial? As I suspected, direct from the tin it’s a bit too much for my comfort. That being said, it really does give that dramatic pale face you see so often in portraits. I was impressed! It has a nice smooth consistency and is very pigmented.  A little bit is all you need, and because it is thick I had to work it into my skin to get a good even coat.
Next I decided to experiment to see if I could cut, or thin, the pigment with extra moisturizer to get a more natural look that would still read 18th century. I applied a little of the 1857 Cucumber Cold Cream (more on that below) first, and then added the white face paint before it soaked it. I really liked this effect. It was obvious that I was wearing makeup, but it wasn’t so dramatic that I felt uncomfortable. I think it will be fun to try this again when I want a full 18th century look.
1857 Cucumber Cold Cream
Since I was testing out historic makeup, I thought I might as well try some historic skincare products too, and a cold cream seemed like a good place to start. I picked the 1857 Cucumber Cold Cream because it seemed like it would be the best fit for my dry, sensitive skin. I’ve never used a modern cold cream so I have no frame of reference, but this cream is very thick and slightly greasy. You only need a tiny bit for your whole face and once it is worked in, it leaves your skin smooth and soft. It’s similar to a lot of other oil based moisturizers I’ve used. It has a light scent, very natural and green, with just a hint of floral, that fades quickly. If fact, it’s pretty close to unscented and that’s something I and my scent triggered migraines appreciate. I combined it with the white face paint, like I mentioned before, but I’ve also been using it as a makeup remover while testing the different blushes and rouges. It works well to get that first layer of color off my skin without irritating it. Now that the weather has turned cold, I’ve been layering it with my daily moisturizer and so far, my skin seems to like it. I’m interested to see how it works for me long term.
1772 Burnt Cloves To Darken The Eyebrows
The next product I tried was the 1772 Burnt Cloves. These were super fun! I’ve never attempted to darken my eyebrows before so I don’t have anything for comparison, but I thought they worked well and I loved the smell. When you start looking at portraits you notice they really were all about some eyebrows in the 18th century and while I just did a light coat on mine it was definitely noticeable. I think when I want to do a dramatic (for me) 18th century look, I will be using these for sure.

1772 Tinted Lip Salve and 1772 Tinted Rose Balm

Now for the lips. I actually had already purchased both the 1772 Tinted Lip Salve and the 1772 Rose Lip Balm and have used them on a regular basis for years. This is as close to lipstick as I ever wear. I love the way the alkanet colors my lips. It’s very natural looking, and the balm in particular is nice for my dry lips. The lip salve is a little softer and more liquid than the balm, like a gloss rather than a chapstick. It gives a stronger color, but soaks into my lips very quickly (my skin is like a sponge), so I find I need to reapply more often. The Rose Lip Balm takes more coats to build up the color, but it conditions my lips a bit better and lasts longer, though I do need to reapply throughout the course of an evening. I’ve also used both on my cheeks as rouge successfully; however, they both leave your cheeks sticky and a bit shiny, so they aren’t my favorite for that.

Goldilocks Hunts for a Rouge

Finally, the all-important rouge! No 18th century toilette is complete without it. I seem to be Goldilocks when it comes to blushes/rouge. First, I've had allergic reactions to normal hypoallergenic commercial cosmetics, natural commercial cosmetics, and historic natural cosmetics. I haven’t been able to isolate one single ingredient that causes a reaction so I just have to hope for the best when trying a new product. Secondly, finding the right color for my complexation can be difficult. I am pale, with a lot of pink to my cheeks/face naturally, but I also have a lot of light freckles all over my face. If a blush is too orange or brown it just makes my skin look muddy rather than pleasantly flushed. Since I wasn’t sure what would work best, I just ordered a selection of different colors and types of rouge to experiment.
I started with the La Fleur de la Jeunesse rouge. It was nice and creamy, and went on smoothly, but sadly it was much too orange for my complexion. I think it would work well for other skin tones, but it is definitely a coral rather than a true pink so keep that in mind.
Next, I tried the Jane Bennet cheek and lip stain. This is a very light stain and I needed at least four coats to get any noticeable color on my skin. Unfortunately, I did have an allergic reaction to this one. I emailed Alicia at LBCC Historical and she kindly helped me identify that the cosmetic grade borax in the formula may be the culprit this time.
The 1810 Turkish Rouge ended up being my favorite of the four. I had a reaction to a historic rouge I tried in the past with very similar ingredients, so I was a little wary to try it but thankfully I had no reaction to this one. It’s best applied sparingly and in layers, as the color is quite dramatic and very red. Paired with the white face paint, it looks just like some of the 18th century portraits. The only issue is I found the vinegar and alcohol to be drying when applied directly to my skin. However, when I used it combined with the cold cream and face paint, it was fine.
Finally, I tried the 1780-1958 Liquid Bloom of Roses. It’s a nice vibrant pink that blended well with my skin tone. Its subtler than the Turkish Rouge, and perhaps it’s because of my freckles, but it took 4-5 coats on my cheeks to build any noticeable color. It smelled lovely (like roses) but the scent wasn’t overpowering, and I found it much less drying than the other liquid rouges. It gave a very natural flush that would be a good alternative when you didn’t want a dramatic look or for other later periods.   
Overall, I’ve been extremely pleased with the products I’ve tried, and am looking forward to experimenting with historic costmetics more in the future!
Posted: 11/17/2017 1:26:44 PM by Aubry | with comments
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