Elizabethan Rouge vs. Medicean Rossetto Part 1

Elizabethan make-up is similar to the style of make-up used in Italy a century earlier.

shakespeare and the death of queen elizabeth by david schajer

“Her face make-up of white powder, rouge and lip dye glazed with egg white had set the fashion for other Elizabethan women. She also plucked her eyebrows and forehead to reveal a greater expanse of white skin, a medieval habit that persisted throughout the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. To draw attention to her high plucked forehead and simulate the translucency of a perfect white skin, Elizabeth even painted artificial veins on her brow. This quaint cosmetic device was most probably used to replace, in middle age, the natural beauty of a youthful complexion.”           – The Artificial Face by Fenja Gunn p.85

Just like the Italians, and verified through paintings and reading different sources, the Elizabethan women treasured a very pale complexion, they plucked the hairs on the forehead, and used rouge on the cheeks and lips. Their rouge was made with pigments, oil, and rosewater. Popular pigments were cochineal (a beetle), madder, and alkanet root.
Interested in rouge recipes? Here are two:

Spanish Wooll – XIV. Wherewith women paint their faces red.

Boil shearings of Scarlet in water of quick-lime half an hour, of which take two pound, to which put Brazil two ounces (rasped) Roch Alom, Verdegrise, of each one ounce, Gum-Arabick two drachms, boil all for half an hour, which keep for use.

Economical Rouge – Fine Carmine, pulverized and prepared for for this purpose [rouge], is without doubt the best of all Paints, and which the Ladies ought to adopt. In order to use it in an agreeable and frugal manner, procure some fine pomatum, without scent, made with the fat of pork and white wax; take about the bigness of a pea of this pomatum, and lay it upon a piece of white paper; then with the end of a tooth-pick add to it about the bigness of a pin’s head of Carmine— mix it gently with your finger, and when you have produced the tone you wish, rub in it a little compressed cotton, and pass it on the face, till the Paint is quite spread and it no longer feels greasy.

Ladies have nothing to fear from this economical Rouge—it neither injures the health or skin, and imitates perfectly the natural colour. (Constant de Massoul, Treatise on the Art of Painting and the Composition of Colours)

apothecary rossetto tint

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s