Vintage Natural Beauty- Hand Care Review

In last week's article I shared some tips from the Victorians about natural hand care:

This week I've been putting some of these Victorian beauty treatments to the test. After being subjected to many hours on the allotment, my hands were in need of some serious TLC. Add to this a hefty dose of laziness in keeping up a hand care routine, and I'd ended up with less than stellar-looking mitts- my nails were chipped, my hands dry and red, and my cuticles hadn't seen an orange stick in many moons. But never fear- the Victorians are here!

The first step was to trim and file my nails. Daniel Garrison Brinton and George Henry Napheys, the authors of Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve It (1870) felt that the "nails should be oval in form", so I tried to aim for that. Once my nails were looking in better shape, it was time to deal with that pesky redness and those neglected cuticles. To do this, I bathed my hands in a lemon solution for five minutes. This was just a simple recipe of one part lemon juice to three parts warm water.

Lemons were often an important part of Victorian beauty routines, and were used to beautify both the nails and the skin of the hand. Victorian ladies used lemons to combat reddening of the skin, the presence of which showed that the lady in question had to perform- whisper it- manual labour. I don't think that I used the lemon soak enough times to notice any lightening of the skin, but lots of people do say that it works over time. 

What it did do effectively was soften my cuticles so I could push them back. This was something that the Victorians did: Garrison and Napheys wrote that "The thin skin should be pressed away from their roots so as to display the pearly half moon there situated . . . thus lengthening the oval of the nail". (Just as a heads up, don't ever be tempted to cut your cuticles- this can give you a nasty infection.) 

Part two of my Victorian-style pampering sesh was a hand scrub with oats and rosewater. I added a little hot water to a small handful of oats until it formed a thick paste, being careful not to scald myself. I then added a few drops of rosewater to the paste: 

I then scrubbed my hands with the paste using gentle circular motions. After I'd done this for a few minutes, I used the lemon water to rinse it off. (I’d recommend gently scraping off the majority of the paste back into a bowl before rinsing to avoid blocking your sink!)

To finish, I used a suitably Victorian hand moisturiser- liquid glycerine. Although I was concerned that I'd find it a bit sticky, I found that by using a small amount and rubbing it in well, I ended up with a lovely, silky-soft finish. Considering how cheap this stuff is, I'd say that you can't really go wrong. 

As a result of these Victorian treatments, I'd say that my hands are in much better condition- and I think the pampering was good for the soul as well :) If nothing else, it's inspired me to take much better care of my mitts. And that's something that any Victorian lady would be proud of. 


Becky x 

p.s. As with all natural beauty treatments, don't use if allergic to any of the ingredients. Also, if any irritation occurs, stop use immediately. 

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