A MEDIEVAL WOMAN'S LIFE - AT HOME
- BIRTHS - WEDDINGS - DIVORCE - DEATHS - MANNERS - EDUCATION - EMPLOYMENT
CLOTHES - ITEMS OF CLOTHING - DRESS ACCESSORIES FABRICS & SEWING BEAUTY, HEALTH & HYGIENE MY TALKS MY SEWING MY ARTIFACTS BIBLIOGRAPHY LINKS
FOUNDATION - EYELINER & EYESHADOW - LIP BALM - ROUGE
Many debate the use of cosmetics to enhance the female appearance during medieval times, but there is a considerable amount of evidence for make-up during this period. The statue at right is dated at 1350 and shows a well-made up woman, her skin fashionably pale with plucked eyebrows, high hairline and round forehead and a rosy glow which could not be due to anything other than a generous amount of rouge.
Opinions varied even between members of the clergy as to the respectability of wearing cosmetics. It was felt that it was generally not a desired state, although it was mentioned that women who had been afflicted with illness and were thereby made unattractive, were excused from the sin of vanity by using cosmetics. The desire to not repel others or their husbands was deemed an acceptable excuse for enhancement.
Thomas of Aquinas was questioned about the use of cosmetics by woman and also grudgingly conceded that for a woman to make herself as attractive as possible to her husband so that he might not stray into the sin of adultery was itself not a sin, however, it was cautioned that a woman should not make herself so beautiful that she should attract other women's husbands.
One recipe for a flour-based cosmetic to whiten the face comes from the L'ornement des Dames in the 13th century. The method is as follows:
lipsticks and stains
One recipe for a medieval lip balm described as a 'sweet smelling grease that will keep the lips and hands from chapping and make them moist and soft' comes from the book Secrets of Don Alessio Piemontese, published in 1557.
There appeared also available a lip stain in use, but I have no information about those at this point.
The Compendium Anglicus from 1240 written by Gilbertus Anglicus, mentions brazilwood chips soaked in rosewater would give a clear, pink dye which can be rubbed on the cheeks. A 13th century French song described in Love Lock'd Out, A Survey of Love, Licence and Restriction in the Middle Ages by James Cleugh refers to a peddlar who carries for sale:
showing the large range of grooming cosmetics and tools which were in use at the time.
Copyright © Rosalie Gilbert
All text & photographs within this site are the property of Rosalie Gilbert unless stated.
Art & artifact images remain the property of the owner.
Images and text may not be copied and used without permission.