La Belle Assemblee in 1806 stated “on the toilet of a lady the rouge box is become perhaps the most essential attendant.” Ladies eagerly colored their cheeks. Rouge was made from red sandalwood or orchanet root and if used often, it damaged the complexion. It was artfully applied with a soft hare’s foot.
Some ladies applied rouge with an overgenerous hand. Mrs. Fitzherbert was said to be rouged to the very edge. Caroline of Brunswick was another devotee of the rouge pot who strode through life with cheeks seriously reddened.
The most dangerous of the beauty aids was white lead and mercury water. A lady used these products to keep her complexion snowy white and unblemished. Prolonged use resulted in a slow death by slow degrees.
One of the worst disfigurements was a freckle! This awful blemish was attacked with various remedies. One was a wash of hydrochloric acid. Another remedy was a Roman balsam, a paste made of barley flour, bitter almonds, and honey to be worn overnight.
Pimples were also treated with Roman balsam. For blackheads, it was Darwin’s Ointment–an odious mix of sulfur flour, hogs lard and mercury.
Whatever her problem, there was some noxious paste some expensive lotion to combat nature’s mistakes.