Did women wear make-up during the American Civil War?

Answer

The Civil War-era falls into the greater Victorian era, a time when women were supposed to look natural. While women once wore heavy makeup, a modern term, cosmetics were seen as vulgar, worn by actresses and prostitutes. A high-class lady avoided the sun as tanning and freckles were seen as low class. An elite woman had to show that she did not labor in the sun.

However, women used subtle cosmetics to enhance their appearance. Pastes and creams with moisturizing properties could hide blemishes, freckles, and uneven skin tones. Creme Celeste was a concoction made of white wax, spermaceti (a substance from the head of a whale), rose water, glycerin, sweet almond oil, and essential oils. Rice and zinc oxide powders could be dusted over the face to create the pale complexion so popular at the time.

Lip balms often contained a tinge of color. A very subtle blush or rouge was dusted on the cheeks, though obvious cheek coloring was viewed as inappropriate for a lady. Women plucked their eyebrows.

Beauty products were purchased at apothecary shops just as in later years, cosmetics have been sold at pharmacies and drug stores.

Updated on November 19, 2019

Original Article:

Women's Clothing of the South in the American Civil War
By Dolores Monet
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