However, the Victorian era has undoubtedly been a major influence in the Lolita fashion, and even lifestyle. While most Lolitas are content to keep the Victorian limited to their wardrobe and maybe decor choices, there are those that are interested in living a little more historically accurate. Personally, I'm very interested in beauty routines and recipes from the past, particularly of the Victorian era. I find them very interesting, and they're generally a very unobtrusive way to add an element of the Victorian to your life without having to change the way you act or invest in some majorly expensive antique furniture.
One of my favorite beauty gurus of the era is Mrs. Harriet Hubbard Ayer, who wrote a book simply called Harriet Hubbard Ayer's Book. As someone who enjoys digging through old beauty books (thank you, the internet and pre-1923 copyright laws!) I'm familiar with the dry and often times ridiculous sounding beauty routines from the era, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Mrs. Ayers book, published first in 1899, not only very readable, but I enjoyed her particular style of writing and personality, and I also found her beauty routines to be very modern sounding, realistic, and generally most of them were not dangerous or even very weird (ok, so maybe baby head-gear to make sure they don't grow up with big ears is a little weird).
The majority of Mrs. Ayer's recipes were something along the lines of a cream, lotion, or fragranced oil or powder. Wax, oil, talc, fragrance, scrubby crushed nuts, rose water, and glycerin are commonly found ingredients in Mrs. Ayer's recipes. Not very different in composition from the multitude of recipes for homemade body butters and scrubs you can find by the hundreds on Pinterest. Personally, I don't even think it's necessary to go strictly historically accurate with these recipes, as the modern home recipes are similar enough (mostly, you're simply going to find a lot less sperm whale fat in modern recipes) so that your best bet would just be to find a modern home made soap, lotion, or whatever it is you feel you could use to suit your needs.
If you're looking for some more in-depth looks at beauty advice from around this era, check out The Gibson Girl's Guide to Glamor, a blog that focuses on beauty tips and recipes from about 1890-1915, and includes dozens and dozens of real-life applications and adventures in recreating the recipes found in these old books!
If you want to do your own hunting and searching, there are a number of old beauty books available for free online at Archive.org. Below are a few of the ones I have found and enjoyed digging through. However, there are dozens more available, just search around antique book archive sites for keywords such as "ladies", "beauty" or "toilet" and you're bound to find some!
- Female Beauty: or, the art of human decoration (1874)
- The Ugly-Girl Papers: or, hints for the toilet (1874)
- Manners, culture and dress of the best American society, including social, commercial and legal forms, letter writing, invitations,etc, also valuable suggestions on self culture and home training (1891)
- Woman’s Own Book of Toilet Treatments (unknown date)
- The Arts of Beauty: or, Secrets of a lady’s toilet (1858)
- Health, Beauty and the Toilet: Letters to ladies from a lady doctor (1886)
- Practical Hand-Book of Toilet Preparations and their uses. Also Recipes for the Household (1889)
- Harriet Hubbard Ayer's book; a complete and authentic treatise on the laws of health and beauty (1902)
If you do plan on attempting any of the recipes or advice you find in any of these old books, please use common sense and a bit of Googling to see if what you're about to do is safe! Not every practice from the past is a safe "old timey home remedy", ladies of ages past (as are ladies of the current age) are often infamous for doing dangerous things in the name of beauty. Many of the recipes and advice in such books are only good for interesting reading, not necessarily for slathering all over yourself and ingesting.
Do you have any particularly Victorian inclined beauty routines? I'm trying to get more into making my own beauty products and going a bit more natural with the ones I use. I sort of really love Lush products and have been lurking around the internet for recipes that are similar to the products I love so I can make. I've already made a ton of different salt and sugar scrubs (and prompted used them almost all up!), as well as a dry shampoo. I want to step it up a bit for my next attempt at a recipe and try making something like a lotion bar, or that witch hazel cold cream!