Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Making Another kind of rouge

The updated recipe
50 ml Red wine
1 gram Brazil wood
1 gram Alum crystal

As this recipe has no measurements whatsoever, I started out with the smallest quality possible for me. The preparations were very simple. The Brazil wood and Alum were briefly grounded in a mortle and then I boiled it with the red wine. As it was such a small quantity the wine cooked down more quickly than I had anticipated, so instead of reducing it with 1/3, it got reduced to ½.

Brazil wood

What the recipe doesn’t mention, but what you need to do, is to strain the finished rouge through a piece of fabric or a coffee filter as the Brazil wood forms tiny splinters that you don’t want to rub into your cheeks. All in all it took about 15 minutes to prepare and make.

Alum crystals

The result
I did anticipate that the colour wood is more of a true red than leaning towards blue or yellow, and I was basically right. The rouge turned out to be blood red. The Brazil wood and wine combine gives it a smell that reminds me of spiced wine, which I think smells rather nice. Being a liquid it works very much like a lip stain and it takes some practice to apply it, but I don’t find that difficult. The colour on my cheeks turned rosy red and in a shade that suits me much better than the previous red paints I have tried. However, that is very much a matter of your personal colouring.

Here are four red rouge/lip colours made after 18th century recipe. The colour are fainter than they were in reality- it’s always a bit tricky to take picture where colour show up right. Still, it gives you an idea. On the top is the lip salve with Iron oxide, next the one with Alkanet. Then comes the rouge, with Brazil wood, though I did a mind slip and wrote the Swedish name for it, Bresilja. And last is a liquid rouge from Ageless Artifice that contains brandy, Red sanders and Brazil wood. As you can see, that rouge is much warmer in tone than the one I made.

What would I do different?
Nothing really.

Would I do it again?
I would like to, but after reading up on Red sanders I realize that that is an endangered species as well, so there goes my imagined substitute. Oh well. If I find something else to substitute the Brazil wood with, then I will definitely make it again as the colour is pretty and it was extremely easy to make.


  1. I have the Ageless Artifice version of this same recipe, and find it acts very differently depending where it gets applied -- it seems to turn more an orange-brown color on my hands, but then offers that natural pink tone in other places. I haven't braved it on my face just yet.

    1. I think it depends om your natural skin tone. I get a distinct orangy red when I use it as a rouge, which doesn't suit me, but I am sure it would look great on another colouring. :)

  2. Alkanet responds to ph like a litmus test, look up stuff about alkanet in soap making for people's hands-on experiences. I've been wondering if that property transferred to the rouge, and to what extent, intriguing!

    1. Interesting! I know nothing about soap making. :) However, the alkanet rouge above is not made with oil, cocnut butter and bees wax:

  3. Thank you for the wonderful recipes! Especially anything with alum, I adore the stuff for skincare (I have extremely problematic skin).

    I've been pondering attempting to make this with beets... A few months ago I bought a bunch, sliced them into strips, and dehydrated them (managing to somehow kill my dehydrator the very first time I'd used it). Then I roughly ground them up and put them in plastic bags for storage until I felt like attempting this recipe.

    I don't know if beets were used in period, but I would certainly have used them! While slicing the beets, I got plenty of juice on my hands, so I dabbed some on my lips and cheeks. It gave me the perfect red I've been looking for! My skin tone is strange, and only certain reds look okay on it, which has led to buying and throwing/giving away a LOT of lip product in the search for a sultry pout and youthful cheeks :P

    I'll be trying this soon and posting the results on my blog :)

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    I have never encountered a recipe from the 18th century that contains beets, but they were certainly around. There are 19th century recipes that suggest using beet juice as rouge and tehre are a 17th century one where the juice is mixed with starch and left to dry out. I think such powder may fade, but a small batch would probably not have time to do that. And on the face, well, you don't keep rouge on your skin that long, anyway. :)

    I look forward to read about your recipe!

  5. I've been using the Ageless Artifice version a lot lately, it's actually become a new favorite -- it's more orangey than my usual cool-tone cosmetics but it actually looks more natural on me for that reason. It's a very good choice when I want to use a lot of color, like slathering it all over my cheeks and ears. I'll probably be using your version to replace my bottle in the near future.

    1. The red wine makes this rouge more true red than the warm tone of Ageless Artifice, which suits me better. :)


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