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Episode 065: Cosmetics & Makeup

In this episode I indulge my girly side and talk about makeup. Before there was spray on foundation for HD cameras there was lead white face paint. Before there was waterproof lipstick there was cochineal. I get kind of grossed out thinking about putting bug blood on my face, but then I read the ingredients in a lot of cosmetics today and I realize that bug blood ain’t so bad.

Face Paint: The Story of Makeup (amazon affiliate link)

Beauty and Cosmetics 1550-1950 (Shire Library) (Amazon affiliate link)

History of Beauty (Amazon affiliate link)

Jill Burke. 2011. ‘Making Up The Renaissance’ [14th October 2015] Available from:

Lead Face Powder:

Recipe for Ceruse (white foundation) :
‘Take calcium and burned tin, heat them together in a glassmaker’s furnace for three or four days, and mix the resulting ashes with green figs or distilled vinegar’

Recipe for Fucus (red facepaint) :
‘Mix cochineal with the white of hard-boiled eggs, the milk of green figs, plume alum and gum arabic’
-Milton Carroll ‘The Elizabethan Woman’

Elizabethan Cosmetic Recipes from

To make the complexion white: ‘Take leaves and roots of nettle and boil them in water and with this water wash your hands and face and they will become white and soft.’

To reduce redness in the face: ‘Take white lead, rose water and violet oil and mix together and anoint the face.’

Powder to make teeth white: ‘Take coral and rock alum burned and ground very well and pass through a sieve and use’

To make hair and body hair grow: ‘Take borax water, fumitory water, water of plantain and with this water wash where you want and take a comb comb and comb very well.’

National Portrait Gallery:

Beauty Beacons YouTube on achieving Anne Boleyn’s look