A great many women never pay attention to the culture of beauty, so far as the neck and shoulders are concerned, until their chance of beauty is almost gone. Then they are forced to admit that they look "scarecrows" in evening-dress.
The neck, however, shows as much as the face, and if care is taken of the face whilst the neck is neglected, the contrast between them is gradually enhanced, till the beholder assumes the neck to show the natural complexion and the face the acquired one. Considering, also, the disadvantage which day-dress imposes upon the neck, and the readiness with which it tells the tale of age and neglect, it is indeed important that it should receive daily attention.
The constant use of high collars causes undue perspiration, which, coming into contact with the dye of the material, forms a real enemy to the healthy texture of the skin it unavoidably acts upon. The consequence is that most of us end by feeling obliged to wear high neckbands in the daytime, as so few of us have that beauty attributed to Annie Laurie, whose neck was like the swan's.
Unless we are quite young, and very fair, too, how many of us could venture to wear the day-dress of our great-grandmothers ? Who could fold white muslin in a demure fichu-fashion across the breast, and have no fear at the neck's rising out of a snowy surrounding.
We can, however, compromise by wearing collarless indoor dresses, and by taking especial care of our ill-used necks whenever possible. Close wrappings of furs and scarves around the throat should be avoided when out of doors, and all collar-bands should be lined with white.
To take away that dried, withered look which much be-gloved hands and a constantly enwrapped throat acquire, there are many resources. None, however, acts more effectually than the homely gruel, which I once saw bring a discoloured neck up to standard in a week. In this particular instance fine oatmeal was mixed with fresh buttermilk daily, and the paste was dabbed on the neck and allowed to dry on. Not many of us can afford the time for this uncomfortable process, nor are able to get the buttermilk; but a wise woman can suit the idea to her needs, remembering to deal gently with the skin of the neck, as it is really more sensitive than that of the face.
Frenchwomen often spray the neck with elderflower water, and then gently massage until the skin is soft and white. The telltale wrinkle round the neck is thus kept at bay - this, by the way, appears to come more readily upon the long, thin neck than upon a short one.
Almond cream is suitable for whitening the neck. To make this cream, blanch five ounces of sweet almonds and one ounce of bitter almonds, and beat them till smooth with half-ounce of white curd soap and one half-pint of rose-water. Add gradually two pints of rose-water and one pint of rectified spirits, in which have been dissolved twenty drops of oil of lavender. This recipe, of course, makes a large quantity of cream, and can be divided.
Lemon-juice is a whitener for the skin, and a very simple preparation is made of a pint of rain or distilled water, ten drops of otto of roses, and a wineglassful of lemon-juice.
One recipe, however, will often prove efficacious where another, for some reason, is not suitable. It is wise, therefore, always to consider well the peculiar needs of one's skin before persevering with any particular recipe. Glycerine, for instance, irritates one skin and is beneficial to another, and if discretion is not used in its use, there is failure instead of success. For this reason a choice of recipes is given in these articles.
Another preparation which often is of service in whitening a discoloured skin can be made as follows: Cut up a cucumber - after peeling it - place the pieces in a pint of new milk, and simmer for an hour. To To the liquid resulting - a little more than half a pint - add a tablespoonful of glycerine and a pinch of boracic acid, to keep the decoction sweet for a day or two. It ought to be used freshly made, and is no use once it has gone sour.
Where the neck becomes red, and there is that ugly line marking the commencement of the collar habitually worn, much can be done by the steady use of an emollient cream, lanoline, or a cold-cream made with lanolinc - i.e., dissolve seventy-two grains of borax in nine and a half ounces of water. Melt together six ounces of lanolinc, two ounces of spermaceti, and two ounces of white wax, and add fourteen ounces of almond-oil. Stir together until nearly cold, and then add gradually the borax-water and perfume, if desired.
Massage does wonders for the thin neck, and lanoline or lanoline cold-cream is easily absorbed by the skin. Almond oil and lanoline mixed in equal parts is also simple and good for the purpose of a skin food for the neck.
Where the neck is thin, the shoulders and bust generally require attention also (but here great care is necessary). Dr. Anna Kingsford recommended linseed oil mixed with Lait Virginal, in equal parts, as a medium for this massage. Lait Virginal is made of elderflower water, one pint, to which is added, drop by drop, half an ounce of tincture of benzoin. Lait Virginal alone may be used as a tonic and astringent immediately after massage with one's favourite cream.
1. Force the chin back close to the neck. This will make the chest rise a little, and force out the bones till one's appearance certainly seems worse than before; but
Shining shoulders should go with a well-shaped neck and bust. The shoulders should slope slightly, and have suggestions of dimples. There are astringents containing alum and white of egg sold for the purpose of giving the gloss of apparent health to one's shoulders, but these preparations are comparatively useless, and the effect which they produce is an unnatural one. Good health and massage will produce better results in the end.