A Day in the life of a wealthy Parisian Lady, according to Grace Hummel:
A fashionable Parisian lady during the 19th century may have used Guerlain's perfumed vinegars to scent her apartment with the Vinaigrillon Seville, which she could also use to heal cuts or sores on her body.
The lady would have also used Guerlain's famous Savon Sapoceti, a rich soap, made up of whale blubber to cleanse her body and whiten the skin. It could be had in either a jasmine, ylang ylang, frangipani, heliotrope, benzoin, acacia, verbena, gardenia, honey or rose, or even one of Guerlain's special perfumed blends, Fleurs de Alpes, Huile d'Amande, or Marcehal Duchesse.
A long soak infused with L'Amidon de Guimauve, a starch made from the marshmallow plant, would have softened the bath water.
When she wanted to remove superfluous hair on her face, neck or arms, she could mix some of Guerlain's Epilotoire with a bottle of its Prepared Water to create a hair removing paste.
After bathing and depilating her unwanted hair, she may have dusted her body with Poudre d'Amande in a cloud of pulverised almonds.
To cleanse her face she may have used Laits d'Iris ou de Concombres, a cucumber and iris infused milk from a glass bottle, followed by the citron based astringent, L'Essence de Cedrat or Eau de Pearl to tone her skin and shrink her pores.
By massaging Crème à la Fraise, in a white porcelain jar with a small strawberry molded on the lid, or Creme Emolliente au Suc de Concombres, a cucumber cream, from white porcelain jar, this would moisturize and freshen her face.
To lighten her skin's complexion she may have used some Lotion de Golwond, or the cold cream made up of snails, Creme Froide de Limaçons or the pearly white cream of Blanc de Perles. If she had a blemish a little dab of Creme Camphrea, a so called miracle cream, from a tin pot would help, it was promoted to make your skin look like one of the porcelain dolls from your childhood.
Before bed, she may have slathered on a night cream, possibly Creme Lenitive, an analgesic cream to smooth the skin and to make to maintain its elasticity, and to fade age spots or freckles, she would use Creme Patti or Creme Nivea, both from white porcelain jars.
To clean her teeth, she would use Tresor de la Bouche, a vegetable powder based tooth powder she would moisten with water, it was advertised as preventing tooth decay and would not harm the enamel on the teeth.
To ensure that her mouth was freshened, she would have swished with either L' Elixir de Guerlain, a balsamic antiseptic mouthwash to keep her gums and teeth strong and healthy, or Alcoolat Cochlearia et de Cresson, a watercress infused mouthwash..
To give her complexion a little color, she may apply Serkis de Sultanas, the secret formula of the harem queens. This would be followed by a dusting of Poudre de Lys or Poudre de Cypris culled from its decorated cardboard box with a swansdown puff to cut down on the shine and give her an alabaster like complexion.
To bring a natural glow to her visage, she may have rubbed a little liquid blush, Bloom of Roses on her cheeks with a cotton ball, or swiped a little powdered Rouge au Carmin de Chine or Rouge de Damas on the apples of her cheeks which was pressed into a small glass mortar decorated with gold.
A genteel lady would have used Roselip, a lightly rose tinted lip balm housed in a tiny Sevres porcelain pot, but a more adventurous lady may have applied a little Rose du Moulin, a rosy lip colour with her finger from a small green glass tub or Extrait de Rose from a glass bottle.
The more daring woman may have even lined her eyes with La Pyrommee, an Arabian styled kohl powder for the eyes kept inside an ivory tube decorated with an eye motif. Advertising of the era told a story that Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain learned the secret formula from an Armenian Pasha who gave it to the ladies of his harem
To keep her body moisturized and supple throughout the day, she may have rubbed on some Creme Nivea to her arms and legs and during winter or harsh, windy weather, when her skin needed more protection, a thicker emollient the Cold Cream of Roses would have made sense.
If she was a nursing mother, she may have applied Baume de la Ferte, a balm made from the tannins in Bordeaux wine, benzoin, beeswax and almond oil, to soothe her chapped nipples, the antiseptic qualities of the benzoin and wine tannins would promote healing.Years later in the 20th century, the formula for this balm would be used to restore flexibility to the lips.
She may have then used Crème de Perse to soften her hands, removed her cuticles with Pate d'Amande au Miel, a honey and almond paste, and applied a little Huile de Rosat to give a rosy gloss to her nails..
Her hair would be cleansed with L'Eau de China, to condition her hair, she would have used the Veritable Moelle de Boeuf, a pomade made up of beef marrow to promote hair growth.
To complete her hairdressing, then she would have applied some l'Eau Lustrale, a liquid hair groom which would have gave it a lustrous shine. A touch of Grasse d'Ours Liquefiee, a pomade made of bear's grease, would help keep that jaunty cowlick from popping out from her coiffure in addition to strengthening and prevent color fading of the hair.
Before heading outside she may have applied Pate a L'Huile d'Amandes de Pistache, a pistachio paste made with almond oil, to make skin supple or Creme Huvé de la Providence to her face to protect it from the sun's rays.
Her toilette would be complete with a splash of Esterhazy Bouquet, a cologne rumord to have aphrodisiacal qualities was a blend of orange blossom, rose, vetiver and vanilla. Her copy of Le Journal des Elegances, a fashionable magazine of the time, even had its pages of a special edition sprinkled with the famed essence.
Photo used in this article courtesy of Rago Arts.