Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

Find me on…

Get the feed


Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘acne’

Oh, Woe is You

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

upsets only make matters worseEveryone’s got ’em . . . but maybe these words from Lois Pemberton’s classic The Stork Didn’t Bring You will help in your personal search for clear skin.

1965: Oh, Woe is You

Saddest of all the adolescent crosses to bear, and one that often leaves big mental as well as physical scars is ACNE. Very few boys or girls escape it, though some have milder and shorter sieges than others. woe is you!It does seem unfair, and why it’s necessary no one knows ~ though maybe it’s just one of nature’s strange character-molding devices. Best you can do is keep your chin up and know that acne does depart eventually for good.

You may, of course, feel self-conscious over it and plan staying home when you want terribly to go some place special. Well don’t. Don’t let it destroy your confidence and composure either.

If you’re a complete mess with a bumper crop from the start, have mother take you to a dermatologist, follow his advice, and apply his medications to the letter. Be sure to use only your own prescriptions and don’t fool around experimenting with stuff that worked for somebody else. Everyone is an individual case, reacting differently to different treatment. What worked swell for Joe or Jane may just prove poison for you.

If, however, you’re just one of the “regulars” with a normally healthy spattering, while you’re putting up with the unsightly spots and curbing the desire to bury your head in the sand till they subside, you can help yourself a lot. First of all, avoid being emotional about its appearance. Upsets only make matters worse, stirring up the circulation and increasing rather than decreasing the number of bumps. So keep calm, stay away from mirrors, and steer clear of company that insists on reminding you of it. . . .

A very good thing to bear in mind is: Those bumps don’t show to others nearly as much as you imagine they do. Because you are extra conscious and sensitive of them, you may feel they look big as all outdoors. They aren’t pretty; none of us likes to even see them, much less have them. Medical science is doing lots to straighten them out in the way of new treatments and diet; and perhaps, someday, acne won’t even be a part of growing up. But until then, there isn’t much more you can do.

Source: Pemberton, Lois. The Stork Didn’t Bring You: Sex Education for Teen-Agers. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965.
~ pp. 115 (drawing), 117-18, 120-21 ~

Please Make My Zits Go Away!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

hardly visible to the naked eyeQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have a bunch of zits on my forehead that never seem to go away. I use pimple-fighting creams and scrubs but they never go away! What can I do to make them go away? Why won’t they go away in the first place? Is there a cream out there that would actually work for my face?


A Dear Krystal:

Somehow I am sensing that you would like those zits to go away. This bit of advice about those horrible beasts comes from a recent acquisition written by Professor Jefferis and J. L. Nichols. The complete title is: Search Lights on Health: Light on Dark Corners. A Complete Sexual Science and A Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood. Advice to Maiden, Wife, and Mother. Love, Courtship, and Marriage. And that doesn’t even cover half the book. I love it.

Now back to this pimples thing. Let me just remind you that I am not a doctor, and this is old, old advice, containing many terms that I don’t even know how to pronounce (what is potash, anyway?). So promise me you won’t rub carbolic acid on your face without consulting a dermatologist first. And one other thing ~ FLESH WORMS … eeewww!

1911: How to Cure Pimples or Other Facial Eruptions

1. It requires self-denial to get rid of pimples, for persons troubled with them will persist in eating fat meats and other articles of food calculated to produce them. Avoid the use of rich gravies, or pastry, or anything of the kind in excess. Take all the out-door exercise you can and never indulge in a late supper. Retire at a reasonable hour, and rise early in the morning. Sulphur to purify the blood may be taken three times a week ~ a thimbleful in a glass of milk before breakfast. It takes some time for the sulphur to do its work, therefore persevere in its use till the humors, or pimples, or blotches, disappear. Avoid getting wet while taking the sulphur.

2. Try This Recipe: Wash the face twice a day in warm water, and rub dry with a course towel. Then with a soft towel rub in a lotion made of two ounces of white brandy, one ounce of cologne, and one-half ounce of liquor potassa. Persons subject to skin eruptions should avoid very salty or fat food. A dose of Epsom salts occasionally might prove beneficial.

3. Wash the face in a dilution of carbolic acid, allowing one teaspoon to a pint of water. This is an excellent and purifying lotion, and may be used on the most delicate skins. Be careful about letting this wash get into the eyes.

4. Oil of sweet almonds, one ounce; fluid potash, one drachm. Shake well together, and then add rose water, one ounce; pure water, six ounces. Mix. Rub the pimples or blotches for some minutes with a rough towel, and then dab them with the lotion.

5. Dissolve one ounce of borax, and sponge the face with it every night. When there are insects, rub on flower of sulphur, dry after washing, rub well and wipe dry; use plenty of castile soap.

6. Dilute corrosive sublimate with oil of almonds. A few days’ application will remove them.

Black-Heads and Flesh Worms. This is a minute little creature, scientifically called Demodex folliculorum, hardly visible to the naked eye, with comparatively large fore body, a more slender hind body and eight little stumpy processes that do duty as legs. No specialized head is visible, although of course there is a mouth orifice. These creatures live on the sweat glands or pores of the human face, and owing to the appearance that they give to the infested pores, they are usually known as “black-heads.” It is not at all uncommon to see an otherwise pretty face disfigured by these ugly creatures, although the insects themselves are nearly transparent white. The black appearance is really due to the accumulation of dirt which gets under the edges of the skin of the enlarged sweat glands and cannot be removed in the ordinary way by washing, because the abnormal, hardened secretion of the gland itself becomes stained. These insects are so lowly organized that it is almost impossible to satisfactorily deal with them, and they sometimes cause the continual festering of the skin which they inhabit.

Remedy. Press them out with a hollow key or with the thumb and fingers, and apply a mixture of sulphur and cream every evening. Wash every morning with the best toilet soap, or wash the face with hot water with a soft flannel at bedtime.

Source: Jefferis, B. G., and J. L. Nichols. Search Lights, or, Light on Dark Corners. Naperville, Ill.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1911.
~ pp. 111-13 ~