Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another rouge for the face

The recipe
Take Brazil Wood Shavings, and Roch Alum, beat them together into a coarse powder, and boil in a sufficient quantity of Red Wine, till two thirds of the Liquor are consumed. When this decoction is cold, rub a little on the cheeks with a bit of cotton. (The Toilet of Flora, p. 193)

Breaking down the recipe
Brazilwood Warm red pigment coming from wood of Caesalpina brasiliensis. Safe, but the tree is considered an endangered species. Substitute with Red sandalwood.

Alum There are several kinds, but here it is most certainly Potassium alum in crystal form. It has been, and is still, used in cosmetics as it works as an astringent, a preservative and is antibacterial. In crystal form it can be used on shaving cuts or as a natural deodorant. It has also been used as a skin whitener. As a powder it can be used in cooking and found at the spice section in food stores.

Red wine Alcoholic beverage made from black grapes. Most of the red pigment are plant pigments.

My thoughts
The nice thing with this recipe is that there is no need to substitute any of the ingredients because they are not harmful. The bad thing is that Brazilwood is an endangered species and though you can still obtain it today, it's likely it will soon be banned. I bought a small quantity years ago before I knew that and I wouldn't buy it today, but as I have it, I will make this recipe with it.

A bit annoying is that this is a lovely example of the lack of measurements. However, there is another recipe where you take equal parts of Brazilwood and Alum, so I will do so here. How much of it in ratio to the red wine, well... I will start with small amounts and work my way up, if need be. I am very curious on what red shade it will turn into. Red wine is blue-toned, but Brazilwood leans toward yellow. My assumption is that the blue and red will neutralise each other and give a more neutral red colour.


  1. I grew so attached to the Ageless Artifice version of this recipe that I actually sent out a sample to a makeup company to have it copied as a cream rouge made with with regular modern pigments. That way I can wear something that looks the same without having to make it from endangered brazilwood.


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