The great mistake made by most people regarding skin troubles, such as sallowness, frouziness, discolorations, roughness and unpleasant and unhealthy redness, is the supposition that they may be remedied by outside applications in the way of cold-creams, salves, washes and lotions. Nearly all blemishes of this sort proceed from internal disorder. Even freckles are invited and aggravated by an ill condition of the digestive system. Many women avoid sunshine and light as if they were really harmful to their complexions. In the days of our great-grandmothers it was thought to be shockingly unfeminine for little girls to go out without heavy veils to protect the face from the ruinous sunshine. How great a mistake! It is said that the “cowboys” and plainsmen of the great West have clear, fine-grained skin, as a rule, for they are nearly always in the saddle and out in the pure open air, so it is not the sunshine and the open air that are to be dreaded. Many a peasant who sits out of doors spinning in the sun day after day has a perfect skin and a perfect complexion such as no dweller in-doors can ever have.
The apple blossom would never take on its lovely pink tinting if by any possibility it could be brought to bloom in the dark, for it is the wholesome sunshine which paints its petals with their roseate hue. So it is with the human face, the best outward applications are sunshine, pure air and good rain water.
Of course complete cleanliness is an absolute necessity, but that includes cleanliness within. Cleanliness within is only attainable by maintaining a regular habit of the bowels. Once a day, every day at a regular hour the bowels should have a clearance; in other words, an evacuation, so as to empty the body of all the waste material left over from unassimilated food. If this does not take place this waste material ferments and is taken up by the blood, poisoning the life current and thereby ruining the complexion. How could one hope to improve a complexion ruined by poor blood unless one improves the blood? To improve the blood there are certain first steps; among these are attention to diet, sleep, pure air and exercise.
Fresh bread is the bane of most American women’s diet. Fresh bread ferments in the stomach and bloats that organ and the bowels, and sets up an internal disorder which soon destroys the curves of the finest shape. Indigestion is the cause of the early loss of suppleness and blitheness of figure which is so common in this country.
Twelve-hours’ old bread, well baked and made of flour of the entire wheat, lean beef, mutton, poultry, fish and game, stewed fruit, fresh vegetables and tasty salads make the best dietary for grown women who desire to keep a good complexion. A certain amount of farinaceous food is desirable where the digestion is good. Cracked wheat and cream make an excellent breakfast dish accompanied by fresh fruit. But even cracked wheat should be avoided by the dyspeptic, and meat, entire wheat bread and seedless fruit form the chief diet, together with eggs and milk.
Pork in any form is one of the most indigestible articles of food and should be scrupulously avoided by any woman who values her appearance. Veal and corned beef are also indigestible, lean beef and mutton being the best meats, and broiling, boiling and roasting in their order the best methods of cooking.
Sleep is the great repairer, restorer and builder-up of the nervous system on which beauty depends. The amount required depends on the individual. The nervous and restless need more than the slow and apathetic. Sleep in an illy-ventilated, small, stuffy chamber will not meet the requirements of health, and beauty of complexion. The room must be large enough, the air perfectly pure and constantly renewed; the bed must be wholesome and the bedding likewise, as must also be the night dress and the body it covers. Rooms must be thrown wide open to the fresh air of all seasons twice a day at least, once after rising, and just before retiring, and the top and bottom of one window at least left open six inches during the night to allow of ventilation. Mattresses should be aired and sunned at least four times every week, and the bedding every day. If all this is done systematically month in and month out, the general health of the person must be improved.
The whole house, however, should be systematically aired from top to bottom every day, so that pure air may rule throughout. This would include cellar ventilation as a matter of course, and cellar cleanliness.
Not a day should pass without out-of-door enjoyment, for no matter how well ventilated the house may be its air can never attain to the purity of the outer atmosphere. Where there is a piazza or a porch the women of the house should utilize it, taking their sewing there or their books, or any work which can possibly be done out of doors. Says a well known writer and most clever woman, “The famed beauty of the peasant women of Arles comes from three things – the coarse black bread, the oil, garlic and grapes which form their food, and the habit of working out of doors. The seat for spinning, knitting, or nursing the children is at the doorstep and life goes on as much as possible outside their dwellings. How should they be anything but clear faced and fine of complexion and build?”
My readers, live out of doors as much as you can, and those of you who have basements and underground kitchens, rebel against them, and get your husbands to rig you up any kind of an out-door shelter to work in, so that you may breathe healthful out-door air.
Alexis (1895, September). The Skin And The Complexion. The Ladies World, XVI(9), 12. Retrieved from VictorianTimes.us http://victoriantimes.us/health/the-skin-and-the-complexion. ^