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If it can make the fair sex simulate a little more closely to divinities, we shall not think the phrase amiss. An ounce of the fresh root, steeped in a pint of cold buttermilk for four hours, yields a wash which is highly prized in parts of England for removing sunburn, and whitening the skin. The juice pressed out and mixed with twice the quantity of vinegar, has also been recommended for the same purpose, and for removing freckles.

Turning to the apothecary's shelves once more, we take down his jar of benzoin. This is a fragrant resin which comes to us from the sunny meadows of Sumatra, and is redolent with odors of the Spice Islands, and the mysterious virtues of tropical balms. Its qualities are strange. Mix a little of it with fat, and the latter will not become rancid. Some of the tincture, combined with glycerine, is simply the best application in the world for chapped hands, and for those sore and cracked nipples which afflict some women so severely during nursing. But this apart. We speak of it now as a cosmetic. Two ounces of it to a pint of pure alcohol (free from acrid fusel oils and the like) make as fine an application as those can ask who wish a white, spotless tint, and fragrant aroma. Some of it may be used once or twice a day in the manner already mentioned.

About a tablespoonful should be poured into a small tumbler of water. It changes the water to a whitish

THE BALM OF GILEAD.

193

fluid, which is known in France as lait virginal, virgin's milk, and is highly and justly esteemed. None of the cosmetic washes is more agreeable. Some glycerine can be added to the water if desired.

We doubt if benzoin is a whit inferior to the Balm of Mecca, or Balm of Gilead, the most famous of all the cosmetic applications of the Orient. So precious and rare is this that it would be dog-cheap at Constantinople at its weight in gold. A pound of the best quality sells there for about fifteen hundred đollars in specie! As for France, England, or America, they get nothing but the refuse.

When Lady Mary Wortley Montague visited Constantinople early in the last century it was more plentiful, and as all her lady friends in Paris and London besieged her for some, she procured several jars of it. On going to bed she rubbed some of it thoroughly on her face. The next morning she woke up with her cheeks red and swollen, "as if she had a dozen toothaches.” This alarmed her terribly, but in a few days the swelling disappeared, and all her friends assured her she was vastly improved in looks. She writes, however, in her Letters, that she has no notion of undergoing the ordeal again.

Indeed, the balsam is said to be used only in very minute quantities, and thus applied, may well deserve its reputation, for the Bible itself speaks of it under

the name of the “ Balm of Gilead” as a medicine of renown in most ancient times.

There are only too many persons in our land whose complexion is “muddied” by a scrofulous taint in their families. They are usually either fair-skinned blondes, or sallow brunettes. Both should make it a. rule to employ daily a wash such as this :

Take

Iodide of potassium two drachms;
Glycerine

one ounce;
Rain water

one pint. Mix them, and apply with a soft sponge.

These are probably enough instructions on this point. Not that the list is nearly exhausted. There are many other excellent cosmetic washes, but they contain such deadly substances as corrosive sublimate, prussic acid, and arsenic, not proper to be used except under the supervision of a physician, and dangerous to keep on the toilet table, where children may reach them. Of such powerful poisons are composed many of the washes sold in the stores, and they should therefore never be ignorantly patronized. Those we have given above are, in most cases, quite as efficient as any, and are all innocuous.

Here we must insert what lawyers call a “proviso” concerning their use. Our readers must remember that we are all this time speaking of a healthy skin, and how to keep it. If the skin is already.suffering

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195

from some local disorder, or if its loss of beauty is owing to the insidious approach of some general malady, then of course these lotions will fail of their effect. Hygiene must then give place to Medicine.

Furthermore, to insure their proper action, not only must the precepts about bathing and exercise, which we have already given, be observed, but especial attention must be paid that the bowels and other organs perform their functions regularly. Without this is looked after, no real improvement can be hoped for from any local remedies whatever. The general health must always be guarded by every one who aspires to prolong the fleeting days of beauty.

EMULSIONS AND POMADES FOR THE SKIN.

Some persons who cannot use soap without experiencing unpleasant sensations, substitute for it various sorts of emulsions, as they are called, formed chiefly of ground seeds and nuts which are rich in oil, for example, almonds, cocoanuts, pistachio nuts, etc. These are perfumed to the taste, and can readily be had from leading druggists.

We have already mentioned one of these which can be prepared at home—that made of kernels of English chestnuts, dried and ground into a fine powder. It is quite as good as any. The kernels of bitter-almonds may be used also, but they are poisonous, and therefore objectionable.

Pomades are chiefly used when the skin is harsh or chapped ; the most popular is cold-cream. This ought to be made of white wax, pure spermaceti, oil of almonds, and rose-water, with various scents. Some have doubted whether it can be applied for a long time without injury, but the question seems idle. Why should any one apply it for a long time? If it does not correct the trouble soon, throw it aside before it has time to affect the skin, and try something more efficient. Neither it nor any other greasy preparation should be allowed to touch the skin after they have become in the least rancid or altered, as the acrid substances, then present, are certain to mar the softness of the complexion. This rule knows no exceptions.

OTHER MEANS OF IMPROVING THE COMPLEXION.

The noble dames of ancient Rome, who have never been surpassed in luxury, were wont to plaster their faces at night with a poultice of bread-crumbs and asses' milk, which on being removed in the morning left a freshness and whiteness very much prized in their day, and we presume identical with that teint mat for which the Italian women of the highest class are still renowned.

They also had recourse to more disagreeable means. Thin slices of fresh meat, veal preferred, were laid on the cheeks and kept there all night. It has been whise pered to us that in Paris—we always lay such a scene

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