Assistants of Beauty

Cosmetics in the Rococo and Empire Eras


The usual sources of costume and fashion history rarely speak of cosmetics, and if they do, it's only a sentence or two, usually without mentioning any source. For some strange reason, those few sentences are usually very, very similar. As if one author had copied from the other, who had copied from yet another... in other words, it might all be just legends. Good reason to turn to a contemporary source - here are some excerpts. The emphasis is on decorative cosmetics (what we now call make-up) since that is, because of its visibility, of the most interest for re-enactors.


1. What kinds of cosmetics were there?

A little overview over the various substances used

2. The composition of cosmetics

Common ingredients

3. Recipes

Some original recipes, e.g. for bismuth white, lead white, talc white, reds, pomades

4. Test reports

I've tried mixing some stuff using the original recipes. Read here how I did it and what the outcome was.

5. Appendix

Historical measurements

Source: Johann Bartholomäus Trommdorff. Kallopistria, oder die Kunst der Toilette für die elegante Welt. Erfurt 1805.



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