Who is Miss Abigail?

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

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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 ‘cosmetics’

Your Morning Beauty Routine

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

would you pass me the talcum, sweetie?This very important advice for the “working girl” comes from The Handbook of Beauty. And remember, Miss Abigail does not like to discriminate ~ boys might want to give this a try too. You never can tell what a good beauty routine will do for you. However, you might need to wake up a few hours earlier than usual to get things done.

Note: I think I need clarification on #6. When do we get to drink the coffee?

1955: Your Morning Beauty Routine
(if you’re a working girl)

1. While still in bed, S-T-R-E-T-C-H 10 times.

2. Out of bed and in front of open window, S-T-R-E-T-C-H 10 times.

3. Dash cold water onto wrists (excellent waker-upper).

4. Use mouth wash.

5. IF you’re going to exercise, cream face. IF not, cream face if your skin is dry; soap-and-water cleanse it if your skin is oily; do either if your skin is normal or half-and-half. Apply astringent if you’ve soap-and-water cleansed.

6. Put on coffee.

7. Drink a cup of hot water with or without lemon juice (excellent for digestion).

8. Do 5 minutes of general and special exercises (see chapter on exercises).This step is optional if you’re planning to exercise later in the day or at night.

9. Take shower or bath (see chapter on baths). This is optional if you haven’t exercised.

10. IF you’ve creamed face, remove cream; apply finishing lotion, cold water, or witch hazel.

11. Apply deodorant.

12. IF you’re using toilet water or cologne, apply all over body.

13. Finish off with talcum or dusting powder (unless you’re wearing dark dress).

14. Apply foundation.

15. Apply rouge.

16. Eat a balanced breakfast (see chapter on diet).

17. Brush teeth.

18. Apply lipstick and blot it.

19. Apply face powder if you use it with your type of foundation; remove excess.

20. Put on all clothes except dress.

21. Apply second coat of lipstick.

22. Apply mascara and eyebrow pencil to lashes and brows. (You can use petroleum jelly or oil instead if you prefer.)

23. Brush hair at least 50 strokes.

24. Apply perfume if you’re wearing it instead of toilet water or cologne.

25. Blot lipstick.

26. Finish dressing.

27. Comb hair and apply hair dressing.

28. Wash hands and apply hand lotion or cream.

29. Check up on your appearance in full-length mirror.

Source: Hart, Constance. The Handbook of Beauty. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1955.
~ pp. 291-92 ~

How to Start Using Perfume

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

use it lightly and intelligentlyI really wish I had read Personal Beauty and Charm when I was a teenager. To think that I’ve had so many wasted years without the wonderful world of perfume. Oh, the horror!

1952: How to Start Using Perfume

Part of a young girl’s training in being lovely is the use and care of perfume. A good habit-forming team among her birthday array at about thirteen or fourteen could be her own bottle of toilet water and another, smaller bottle of the same scent, in true perfume. Her toilet water should be complete with atomizer ~ and a lesson or two ~ to be sprayed on her hair, her skin, her underthings, and even mixed with the rinse water after her home shampoo.

Her perfume, she will learn, is the accent, used strategically like her lipstick and her jewelry ~ never loaded on, but always there to be noticed and to attract. And as an accent she will learn to use it lightly and intelligently. She will learn to spray it on, about the face and shoulders, lightly on the hair and on the wrists . . . she will learn the delight of perfume applied to the hem of a dancing dress, to the lining of a coat. Most important of all she will learn the charm and beauty of living graciously, for remembering to surround herself with delicate fragrance is remembering to add pleasure to life.

Source: Daggert, Nancy. Personal Beauty and Charm. New York: The Homemaker’s Encyclopedia, 1952.
~ p. 477 ~

Cosmetic Illusions

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

less romantic in their possibilitiesRecently, I wandered into one of those shops in the mall filled with smelly soaps, vanilla-flavored shampoos, and gift baskets for the bath. Before I knew it, thirty dollars had been charged to my credit card, and I was the bewildered owner of foot care products unknown to me before that day. I feel particularly ashamed to have spent four dollars for a two-ounce bottle of peppermint foot lotion. It was so bad, my big bottle of regular lotion mocked me when I got home.

I turn this week, then, to Dr. W. W. Bauer’s informative book Health, Hygiene and Hooey. Although it was written in the 1930s, it is surprisingly appropriate for today. As for me, I’m going to try to heed the good doctor’s advice and be more cautious. As long as I stay away from the foot lotion displays, I should be fine.

1938: Cosmetic Illusions

To paint the cosmetic picture in broad stokes, it is necessary merely to remember a few facts. There are so many cosmetic preparations that no agency has yet been established which has analyzed and classified all of them. Even if such an agency existed, there would be nothing to prevent the manufacturer from changing the formula overnight. The principal cosmetics used for make-up are quite safe for use on the normal skin ~ including creams, powders, rouges, lipsticks, eyebrow pencils, eyeshadow and mascara. Deodorants are safe. Most soaps are quite safe, though less romantic in their possibilities than claimed. Depilatory creams, skin peels, freckle creams, deep-pore cleansers or wrinkle creams, are best left alone because they will not do what is claimed for them, and may do harm. Hair dyes may or may not be safe, depending on what they contain and how they are used.

When in doubt about any cosmetic, stop its use until a doctor can be consulted. And consider the statement attributed to a cosmetic manufacturer who is reported to have said to a gathering of his business associates:

‘Remember, we do not sell merchandise; we sell illusion.’

Source: Bauer, W. W. Health, Hygiene and Hooey. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1938.
~ pp. 102-103 ~

Those Plucky Eyebrows

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

arch it, if you willQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have a lot of hair on my eyebrows; they connect like one big eyebrow. I have been teased ~ not all the time, but you can definitely notice them. Should I pluck them to make them two separate brows? I really would appreciate your help!


A Dear Casey:

I can’t really tell you what you should or should not do with your eyebrows; it is, after all, your life. But what I can do is provide this advice from Helena Rubinstein’s book titled The Art of Feminine Beauty, published in 1930. I really like what she has to say about the importance of a woman’s individuality. I just never knew it was so tied to our eyebrows.

1930: The Eyebrows

For taking care of the brows and lashes you will need a special small brush with which you will brush them into shape night and morning. An eyebrow cream is equally effective and perhaps more pleasant to use. The best eyebrow cream comes darkened, so that if you wish to use it in the daytime as well you may do so without fear of its being unattractively obvious. To promote the growth and beauty of the eyelashes, pure castor oil applied on a tiny eyebrow brush will prove excellent.

I am happy that the fad of plucking, shaving and otherwise slenderizing the eyebrows is far less popular than it has been in the past. I have steadily preached against overdoing it, believing that it detracted from a woman’s individuality and produced a standardized look that was far from attractive. ‘The eyebrow that goes with your type’ has always been one of my beauty slogans. Arch it, if you will, pluck stray hairs that tend to make a straggling, uneven line. Pinch it with the thumb and forefinger, so that the little fine hairs may grow properly; brush them with your little brush, and apply your eyebrow cream. A good stimulating hair tonic massaged in daily is also excellent.

The same cream that is used on the eyebrows can be used on the eyelashes at night, applied with the same little brush, and eyelashes should be brushed upward to encourage them to curl. Such a cream cannot injure the eyes themselves, and will not only preserve brows and lashes but stimulate their growth.

Source: Rubinstein, Helena. The Art of Feminine Beauty. New York: Horace Liveright, 1930.
~ pp. 52-53 ~

Cosmetics and Cheerfulness

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

rub your face with itOh, you don’t know how pleased I am to have found this week’s selection. In my many books on beauty and health, this is the first I’ve seen that has discussed the merits of NOT wearing makeup. As one who must have skipped the “how to apply cosmetics” lesson in junior high (and never figured it out in later years, either) I find this excerpt from The Household Guide, or, Domestic Cyclopedia, written by B. J. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols, quite refreshing.

1902: Cosmetics and Cheerfulness

Cosmetics are generally good for nothing but the drug business. One merry thought, one kind word, and the smallest contribution to another’s happiness, will do more for the complexion than a tableful of cold cream, violet powder, and other skin whiteners. A sweet thought will make the face brighten, and the eyes sparkle, every time it is harbored. It was Alice Cary who sang this old truth so gracefully thirty years ago: Don’t mind the cosmetics, little woman; just be as cheerful as you can. Make the best of things. Avoid disagreeable people. Don’t read or listen to the horrible. Try to forget the unpleasant things in life. Be cheerful, be gentle, and so be lovely.

Cosmetics. ~ Young lady, do not deceive yourself. You cannot use cosmetics without the knowledge of your gentlemen friends. They will respect you the more if you forever abandon the use of such subterfuges.

Vegetables Better than Cosmetics. ~ Ladies who wish clear complexions, instead of using cosmetics, eat vegetables and fruit, as long as they are in season; and never throw away cucumber water or the juice of any fruit, but rub your face with it whenever you have it.

Eat fruit, girls ~ good, ripe fruit, however ~ if you would have and keep a clear and beautiful skin.

Practice smiles, also, not frowns. There is a wonderful charm in a smile. Like charity, it hides a multitude of sins.

Source: Jefferis, Prof. B. G. The Household Guide, or Domestic Cyclopedia. Atlanta, Ga.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1902.
~ p. 254 ~