The Finishing Touch

Cosmetics through the Ages

Julian Walker

Julian Walker

Distributed for British Library

160 pages | 30 halftones | 4 1/2 x 7
Cloth $15.00 ISBN: 9780712357524 Will Publish October 2014 For sale in North and South America only
“The quest for physical beauty is essentially as old as Woman herself.” So decreed A Complete Guide to Personal Loveliness in 1937. Ah, but beauty can be a fickle and fleeting thing, so how have women—and, let’s not lie, some men—through the ages improved on what nature gave them?
           
The Finishing Touch has the details. Carrying readers from Anglo-Saxon times (via a particularly gruesome prescription for cosmetic surgery) to the present, Julian Walker reveals the countless, occasionally desperate ways people have tried to make themselves more attractive. A facewash of boiled, minced pigeon, bear grease as a glistening pomade; a horseradish-and-milk cocktail to lighten a tan—these are just a few of the bizarre recipes and techniques that Walker has dug up (and that’s without even mentioning the tricks for keeping mice out of powdered wigs!).
 
Not since Jonathan Swift showed us Celia’s dressing room, with its “gallypots and vials placed / Some filled with washes, some with paste” have we had such a close-up look at the secrets of the dressing table.  Decorated with images from the British Library’s vast collections, The Finishing Touch will charm, surprise, enlighten, and amuse men and women alike.
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