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 Elizabethan era
Queen Elizabeth 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 Tudor Woman
Queen 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 - Hair Dye
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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