This section is from the book "Manual Of Useful Information", by J. C Thomas. Also available from Amazon: Manual of useful Information.
Cleanliness is the outward sign of inward purity. Cleanliness is health, and health is beauty.
The first business of the dressing-room is the bath, and this should be a complete bath, and not simply a hasty washing of the face. It is not to be supposed that a lady washes to become clean, but simply to remain clean. A bathing of the entire body at least once a day is essential to health. It is not necessary to have a bath tub for this purpose, but merely an ordinary basin of tepid water, with soap, sponge and clean towels.
The whole body may be quickly sponged off, or the sponge may be dispensed with, and the hands alone used to convey the water to the body, after which dry the body thoroughly with a soft towel, and then use a coarse Turkish towel vigorously until the skin is red from the friction. In lieu of the coarse towel, a liberal use of the flesh-brush may be made, but either one or both must be regularly used, as nothing tends to keep the complexion in good condition so much as the daily use of the flesh-brush.
Persons living in cities where Turkish baths are established will find a bath of this kind once a week very beneficial to their health. Oftener than this the baths would be apt to have an enervating effect. But an occasional Turkish bath is the most effectual cleanser in the world.
Early rising contributes not only to the preservation of health,but the proper condition of the mental faculties. Too much sleep induces minor ailments both of the body and mind. Fresh air, moderate exercise and good ventilation, together with the daily bath, are the great health-preservers.
Scrupulous care is necessary to the preservation of the teeth. The teeth should be carefully brushed, not only every night and morning, but after every meal.
The best and only needful tooth powder is a simple preparation of chalk. The numerous dentifrices advertised are most of them worthless, and many of them positively injurious.
A good tooth-brush, not too stiff, is necessary. Very hot and very cold things, and a great deal of sweets are injurious to the teeth.
Upon the first indication of decay, a good dentist should be consulted; cheap dentistry is bad economy.
It goes without saying that a sweet breath is one of the essentials of happiness, and should therefore be carefully looked to. The principal causes of a bad breath are a disordered stomach, decaying teeth and catarrhal affections. In the latter case a good specialist should be consulted. When it arises from digestive difficulty, the diet should be changed to one better suited to the system.
The eating of anything that will give an unpleasant odor to the breath is to be avoided.
Much care and attention is given to the nails by those who are particular in matters of the toilet. Of late years the care of the e nails has been elevated to a profession, and persons calling themselves "manicures" make it their business to dress the nails of ladies of fashion.
It is sufficient, however, if you keep the nails carefully and evenly trimmed - great care, however, being required to preserve the correct shape, and keep all superfluous skin entirely removed. Plenty of warm water, Windsor soap and a nail brush are all that is required to keep the hands in good condition.
The hair should be regularly brushed, morning and evening, with a clean hair brush. It is important that the brushing be frequent; it is also important that the brush be quite clean.
The brush should be washed every day with hot water and soda, in order to preserve a glossy appearance to the hair. Occasionally the hair may be cleaned with a mixture of glycerine and lime juice. Pomades and oil should be carefully avoided.
Never attempt to change the color of your hair by means of dyes and fluids. Your own hair, as nature colored it, is apt to be the only shade that will correspond with your eyes, eyebrows and complexion. Practices of this kind are much to be condemned. They indicate a senseless desire for fashion, and an equally unladylike desire to attract attention. The use of hair dyes, false hair, etc., is almost as much to be condemned as painted cheeks and penciled brows.
As to the art of obtaining a good complexion, all the recipes in the world can have but little effect compared with the effects of early rising, regular habits, careful diet and absolute cleanliness. The various lotions recommended by Madame-----------and others of her ilk, the milk bath, pearl powders and washes of every kind, would never be needed if ladies were always careful to take plenty of exercise in the open air, wear broad brimmed hats in the sun, and veils in the wind.
The face should never be washed when heated from exercise. Wipe the perspiration from the skin, and wait until it is sufficiently cool before you bathe even in warm water. Rain water is the best for bathing purposes. If an eruption break out on the skin, consult a physician.