The puritanical Victorian era supported natural beauty with very little to no make-up at all. However, much like women today, Victorian women also wanted to look good; they achieved this goal through their Victorian beauty treatments. However, unlike the earlier eras, Victorian women placed much emphasis on hygiene and health, especially with the many warnings against the toxic qualities of industrial lead-based cosmetics and beauty treatments.
Make-up and Cosmetics
Unlike the more ancient periods, Victorian women were exposed to advanced beauty products such as zinc oxide. Women widely used this combination as facial powder, replacing other dangerous powder mixtures of the past eras. Nonetheless, they still continued using poisonous substances for their eyes and lips such as lead, mercuric sulphide, belladonna and antimony sulphide. Although most Victorian women engaged in wearing these cosmetics, some created a negative backlash against beauty products with the aim of preserving modesty and strict morals. A common belief held that cosmetics and beauty products were the devil's making and were associated with prostitutes. Even adding pink colour to cheeks was also seen as a sinful act.
Victorian women also took care of their hair, which they considered their glory. They seldom cut their locks; instead, they applied false hair for a fuller look. Seeking sleek and demure-looking heads, they oiled their hair and smoothed it down with long sausage curls. They also sported knots of curls and plaits in black. Victorian women usually pulled their hair back or at the sides to emphasise it, using ornate clips and combs for decoration.
Pale complexion during the Victorian period was a sign of nobility. During those times, a pale complexion meant that a woman could afford not to work outdoors, which often resulted in a tan. During this era, changes in achieving a fair complexion changed when women started using mineral powders. In addition to cosmetics, some preferred the natural beauty treatment of avoiding staying long under the sun to preserve a fair complexion and fresh hair. In case of inevitable sun exposure, they started using parasols to protect their skin.
Victorian women used natural ingredients found in their neighbourhood for skin care treatments. Many used creams with natural elements and tonic mixtures of water, almond oil and flower scents such as rose, lily or violet.
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