The bath as an aid to beauty

Few women seem to realize that the bath, when properly taken, is the greatest aid to beauty that has ever been discovered. When I am appealed to in cases of facial eruptions, my first advice is baths, and plenty of ’em.

There is a story told of a famous beauty who sought advice upon the preservation of her loveliness. The clever old doctor to whom she appealed gave her a vial containing a colorless liquid, and instructed her to take a daily bath of soft water in which were three drops of the precious liquid.

His advice was followed for years, and the lady preserved her beauty to a good old age. Meanwhile, it had been secretly discovered that the elixir given her by her physician was nothing more or less than some of  the same water used for her baths. It was a ruse — the only one which could have induced her to take a daily bath, the merits of which the sage old fellow knew full well.

Ancient wisdom

The road to beauty was known to the Greek and Roman women hundreds of years ago. They did not begin to have the resources in cosmetic arts that we have now, but they understood thoroughly that the two vital points in the pursuit of comeliness were cleanliness and health. To this end, they bathed incessantly. Athletic games also occupied a large portion of their time, and thereby hangs the secret of their well-developed forms and fine, stately carriages. Oil of coconut and almond oil formed the basis of all their lotions for the face.

These beauties of the past, no doubt, had much more leisure for their games and baths than have the busy women of the present day, but we might do worse than follow in the wake of their most excellent teachings. Their matchless loveliness proved the wisdom of their methods.

Plunge and sponge

The bathrooms in even the most ordinary modern flats are apartments so conveniently planned that bathing, instead of being a trouble, is a most invigorating pleasure. I am a firm believer in the need of the dally bath. I do not think a thorough soapy scrubbing is necessary each day, but I believe in the plunge and quick sponge. Then once a week, and in many cases twice during the seven days, a thorough scrubbing should be indulged in. In no other way can the flesh be kept firm and healthy.

The cold bath, if one is robust enough to stand it, is invigorating and a preventive against taking cold, but for a person of delicate physique would mean almost certain suicide. Therefore, I do not advise it as a general thing, for the shock of the cold water immediately closes the pores, and they retain impurities that should be cast out. The best way is to take a tepid sponge, letting the cold water run until the bath is pretty well chilled.

While the cold bath is invigorating, the warm, soapy bath is necessary for actual cleansing. When taking this soapy, bath use plenty of pure castile soap and a flesh brush, a brisk scrubbing with which will rid the cuticle of the tiny flakes that it is continually throwing off, and cleanse the pores of their oily secretions as nothing else can.

The temperature of the water should never be more than 90 or 95 degrees.

The best time for a bath

There is much diversity of opinion as to whether a bath should be taken at night or in the morning, which question, I think, is best decided by the individual. It is often claimed that a warm bath taken at night will soothe the nerves and make one sleep like a baby, but I have known many persons to whom it was an impossibility, making them restless and wide awake.

The bath taken before going to bed is desirable for one reason: That is, it opens the pores of the skin and leaves it in excellent condition to absorb a good skin food, thus whitening and beautifying the skin.

Take care not to take cold after a warm bath. Envelop the body in a huge Turkish towel and with it rub the body briskly, dealing more gently with the neck and face. If you can follow your bath with a glass of warm milk and a little trip to slumberland, so much the better. There is nothing more restful.

A little salt thrown into the bath is a pleasant tonic when one is worn out or weary. A little cornstarch in the water will sometimes whiten the skin. Turkish baths, indulged in occasionally, are splendid complexion makers. When the skin is dry and feverish, a dry bath or massage will assist the circulation and bring about a more healthy condition of the skin.

For a fragrant bath

If you wish a fragrant bath, and one which will give the skin a charming, velvety appearance, make yourselves some bath bags. (Formula for a very elaborate one was given in the Sunday Call of October 2: One pound of fine oatmeal; 1/2 quart of new, clean bran; 2/5 of a pound of powdered orris root; 2/5 of a pound of almond meal, 1/2 of a pound of white castile soap, dry and powdered; one ounce of primrose sachet powder. Put this in small cheesecloth bags, dip in tepid water and use as a sponge. To the woman who loves fragrant, pleasant toilet luxuries, this recipe will be a treasure.)

However, to those of you who prefer something more simple, I would suggest one that has been used since the time of your grandmothers. It is made by combining equal parts of shaved castile soap, almond meal and powdered orris root. Make your bags out of cheese cloth and never use one a second time, as the meal is apt to sour after using.

By Mme Hygeia

About this story

Source publication: The San Francisco Call

Source publication date: January 29, 1899

Filed under: 1890s, Beauty & fashion, Health & medicine

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