Systematic care of a complexion will keep it, if it is in the first place good, in excellent condition till the lucky owner attains a ripe old age. There is no need, at this date, to point out that a woman with a good complexion is good-looking, no matter what her age or what the cast of her features, so there is no need to dilate on the importance of taking care of the skin.
But systematic care of a bad complexion will improve it till in time it becomes good. This is important.
Now, there are two ways of carrying out a systematic treatment for the skin, the first being attainable only by the woman of leisure and some means. This is a weekly visit to some reputable beauty doctor, who, with creams and washes and, most of all, massage with delicately trained fingers, coaxes youth back to a jaded skin.
The second is home treatment by oneself. I have lately come across two quite old ladies with beautiful complexions, the skin being firm, clear, and tinted rose on cream, and each declared that she had never used any art. But one always used rain-water, the other never would use water that had not been boiled.
Ninon de l'enclos, who was said to own her own complexion at the age of eighty, and was considered even then to be a beauty, had nothing more magical as a complexion-wash than freshly gathered dew or fresh rain-water, brought to her every morning in sealed bottles. It thus appears that soft water is an essential to the toilet of every woman. Hard water is as much responsible for spoiled complexions as hard living - a notorious despoiler.
If the water be unpleasant to the touch, requiring a lot of soap in it before it will lather, and leaving a crusting of mineral matter on the side of the basin, beware of it. Boiling softens it. So does borax or lime-water - this latter being a quick, simple, and inexpensive plan, since a few pennyworth bought at a chemist's will soften several jugfuls. A delightful way of softening and perfuming water is with fine oatmeal, to which has been added one-fourth part of powdered orris-root. Mix, tie in a muslin bag, and drop into the jug at night. Change every few days.
The only real merit about a good toilet soap is negative. Do not expect a soap - unless it is specially medicated ana prescribed by a doctor - to take active part in the making of a complexion. The ideal soap is bland, superfatted, and pure, and is a medium for removing the grease of the skin in as mild and unobtrusive a manner as possible.
It should therefore be used at the end of a day, rather than at the beginning, so that the pores of the skin may be left to work freely during the night. Simple as this may sound, the nightly wash is better than any remedial tonics or washes.
Once a week the face, neck, and arms require a special treatment and massage, which will be described later. Should the skin feel stiff, chafed, or burnt, gently rub in after washing some nice emollient cream. Wipe any superfluous cream away with a soft old linen handkerchief before retiring.
At the morning toilet the face should not need soap. If you feel you must use something with the cold water, which is to brace the skin up for the day rather than to cleanse it, let it be a handful of fine oatmeal.
A final touch may be given with a solution made in the following way: Add, drop by drop, and shaking the bottle as you mix, half an ounce of simple tincture of benzoin to a pint of elder-flower water. Cork well, and shake before using. This solution costs less than sixpence to make, and may be used during the day, instead of soap and water.
A complexion properly cared for seldom requires powder, but a good powder is harmless enough if it be washed from the skin at night.
It is not so long ago since a woman with a poor complexion had to content herself with trying various experiments in order to find a treatment which might, if she were Lucky, prove of use. And as often as not she Kept the secret of her success, when she once found it, in the same private cell of her memory as the name of her best dressmaker. We all prefer to be called natural rather than artful.
All this is altered now. If your complexion is not what you would like, be sure there is somewhere a treatment suitable to your case, and all you need to do is to submit yourself to a sharp, severe, and impartial self-observation.
It is not yet fully realised how closely connected are ailments of the nerves and ailments of the skin. If you are pale, of weak and capricious appetite, if you sleep lightly and insufficiently, and are subject to headaches and irritability, suspect "nerves," and get your doctor to prescribe. He will probably give you iron.
A bad complexion is caused also by indigestion, but, again, indigestion is often the result of poor nerves. Bromide of potassium, iodide of potassium, sulphate of quinine, and preparations of iodine - these things are as charms in the hands of a sympathetic medical man, to whom resort should be had before beginning outward treatment of the skin.
A General Survey
A blonde skin wears better than a brunette, and does not appear to be so subject to blackheads. The brunette skin, however, is coarser and thicker. It endures heat better than does a blonde. The blonde is, when out of order, likely to become dry, so that it cracks and chaps in cold weather, and becomes red and irritated in hot. The brunette's great trouble is greasiness.
Both dryness of the skin and greasiness, opposite effects as they are, are due to the same cause - to disturbances in the action of the innumerable sebaceous glands which secrete the fatty matter meant for the nutrition of the skin and the hair. .
To obtain a bright, clear complexion (and a good head of hair) great attention must be paid to the action of the pores. Black specks and red blotches are both outward and visible signs of inward derangement.
Sulphur is one of the first of complexion medicines. A well-known doctor recommended two teaspoonfuls of flowers of sulphur mixed in a teacupful of cold or slightly warmed milk. Mix smoothly and take fasting, an hour before breakfast. Another form is 10-20 grains of sulphur mixed with marmalade, or I-ioth grain of sulphide of calcium, to be taken three times a day.
Sulphur soap and sulphur ointment are still the best outward remedies, when they are used in connection with massage. There is no doubt that a skin properly massaged two or three times a week must become clear, healthy, firm, and young-looking, since massage puts it, and then keeps it, in good working order.
The right way to massage is with your hands, two instruments infinitely superior to any to be bought. The right time is at night, just be fore retiring.
Fill a basin with boiling water, hold the face over it, and by enveloping head and basin within a towel thrown over the whole you form a little cabinet in which "steaming" is carried out perfectly.
Steaming opens the pores and releases the stagnant matter which is making your complexion muddy. (Unless blackheads are very conspicuous, they should not be pressed out either with the fingers or a watch-key, because such pressure tends to set up an equally disagreeable irritation.)
Dry the skin with a fairly rough towel and rub it gently till it glows. Then massage with any good cold-cream, such as the following:
Pure white wax......................
Almond oil ............................
Mix together by gentle heat in a glazed earthenware pot, then add:
Otto of roses..........................
Stir till nearly cold, then let the mixture settle.
To massage, use the tips of the fingers gently but firmly, and in a circular movement over the affected parts on chin and forehead, and with a straight sweep from nose to ears over the affected parts round the nose.
This movement helps at the same time to counteract the ugly line which forms in time from the corners of the nose to the mouth.
Where there are spots which are inflamed or full of matter the following lotion is useful, and is to be used finally before going to bed:
Most skins will, after this treatment, require the application of an astringent lotion to be applied in the morning. Rainwater and bran-water are simple and nice.
To he continued in Part 2 of Every Woman's