Tudor Make-up & Cosmetics
Use of cosmetics or
make-up was frowned upon at some points in history. Not so
the period of the Tudors. The rich women of the Tudors,
Royalty and the the Nobility, wore make-up as an indication
of their status and rank. Make-up also had a practical use
to hide the scarring of various diseases such as smallpox.
Influence of the Crusades on
Tudor Perfume, Make-up & Cosmetics
The use of heavy Make-up
was not fashionable during the reigns of the early Tudors such as Henry
VIII. Perfumes were popular together with the use of creams and unguents
to soften the skin. These were made from ingredients such as using
honey, beeswax and sesame seed oil. During the Crusades, Europe was
introduced to the cosmetic products used in the Middle East. Perfumes
were popular and produced from flowers such as roses, water lilies and
violets. Make-up was developed in the Middle East and used by the
Ancient Egyptians as far back as 3000BC. The eye make used in the Middle
East concentrated in providing color to their eye lashes, eye lids and
eye brows. A type of rouge made from red ochre was used to stain their
lips and cheeks and a form of henna was used to paint their nails and
color their hair.
Tudor Make-up & Cosmetics - The
I set the fashions and as she grew older she more wore
elaborate make-up which was useful for hiding wrinkles and
other signs of ageing. Queen Elizabeth had
contracted small pox which had left some slight scarring on her face.
As she grew older the heavy white make-up which she favored helped to hide this and maintain
her illusion of beauty and image as the 'Virgin Queen'.
The 'Ideal' Tudor Woman
The Tudor view of pure beauty during the Elizabethan
era was a woman with light hair and a snow
white complexion which was complimented with red cheeks and red lips. A pale
complexion could only be achieved by a wealthy woman of the upper class.
Poor women were expected to work outside and therefore acquired a suntan.
The pale complexion was therefore a sign of wealth and nobility - an
immediate identification for a person from the rich upper classes. This
alabaster complexion was therefore also sought after by Tudor men.
White make-up used by
Elizabeth did have the natural attributes of this ideal image of beauty
but she enhanced and exaggerated the image by using white make-up. This
explains the odd white face make-up seen in many of her portraits. The
favoured application of the upper classes was a make-up called ceruse
which was a mixture of white lead and vinegar. Unfortunately was
poisonous. The acquisition of a pale complexion was so desirable that
rich Tudor women were bled to achieve the desired pale look. Face paint
made from plant roots and leaves was also applied. The look was
completed with an application of an expensive rouge made from cochineal
to stain the cheeks and the lips. Madder and vermilion was also used to
achieve this reddening effect. Kohl was used to darken the eyelashes,
another element of make-up which was imported from the Middle East
during the crusades.
Tudor Make-up and Cosmetics -
Rich Tudor women followed the fashion of light hair dyed their hair yellow.
The yellow hair dye was made from a mixture of saffron, cumin seed,
celandine and oil. Wigs and hairpieces were also popular and Queen Elizabeth
I had a wide
variety of wigs, periwigs and hair pieces which numbered over eighty.
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