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Updated on October 21, 2014

Victorian women were taught to be genteel.

Lillie Langtry 1853-1929  British actress  Mistress /Prince of Wales Albert Edward future King Edward V11  Beauty was power.
Lillie Langtry 1853-1929 British actress Mistress /Prince of Wales Albert Edward future King Edward V11 Beauty was power. | Source
A peaceful beauty who seldom lost her temper in public.       creative commons
A peaceful beauty who seldom lost her temper in public. creative commons
African American women influenced by Victoriana.  Were proud to be painted as such.
African American women influenced by Victoriana. Were proud to be painted as such. | Source
The Bon-Ton (good fashion) trend setters of  upper class.  When victorian's dressed it was hard to separate women by their station in life.  creative commons
The Bon-Ton (good fashion) trend setters of upper class. When victorian's dressed it was hard to separate women by their station in life. creative commons
In those days the ultimate challenge was to find a mate to marry for love  not money.
In those days the ultimate challenge was to find a mate to marry for love not money.
Victorian women favored Cascade curls this femanine alure made popular in France by Queen Marie Antonette wigs.  wikipedia
Victorian women favored Cascade curls this femanine alure made popular in France by Queen Marie Antonette wigs. wikipedia
1800's Harper Bazzar Wig display-   Catalog prices $4-10 dollars.   public domain
1800's Harper Bazzar Wig display- Catalog prices $4-10 dollars. public domain
1840's These hair pieces resemble the ones fashioned by the home hair weavers.  public
1840's These hair pieces resemble the ones fashioned by the home hair weavers. public


1837-1901 With the crowning of Queen Victoria and until her death is known as the Victoria or Victorian era. Progress and industrialization of this era did not happen the moment Victoria sat on the throne after all she was only 18 years old. As a young person she lived a life in training for the day if she would be queen. Everyday there after she lived her life as the Queen of industry and progress, "The Victorian era".

Victorian women:

Soft clean scrubbed healthy facial skin, glowing beneath mounds of radiant silk tresses. Early photographed American and English Victorian women revealed a natural beauty. Photography being newly discovered the camera photographed what the lens focused without special beauty enhancing features. The peaches and cream complexion really came from peaches and cream.

Victorian young women of marriage age found it necessary to make a most profitable match in their quest to get married. Marriage was important simply because the Noble and upper class women did not work. If a young woman did not marry soon to a prosperous man the family chose her mate for her. It was business wise for family to marry her off to a rich old man. To avoid this fate beauty was their occupation. Attracting the best possible catch was their goal.

African American women were greatly influenced by the Victorian era. They also knew the value of looking their best. Many spent hours sewing garments for church and special events. The below painting of this young lady is to be sent to a respected potential husband.

Victorian Gentlemen:

A gentleman was defined by the law as a man with no need of trade or occupation. Being an heir to wealth with large land holdings. Victorian men did want a beautiful wife with perfect morals and a sense of style. More often than not, they looked for an heiress with good land holdings and financial stability. This guaranteed to continue a lifestyle passed on to them from both sides of their families.

Getting ready for the ball actually started weeks before the event.

Morning __ drink 6 oz. spring water with fresh lemon juice. M-W-F- rinse face with warm water make a baking soda paste in palm of hand. Using upward circular strokes clean face pores and neck. five min. only. With finger tips dab pure rose water on face. The breakfast : fresh juice__Sm.breakfast meat patty__cereal or toast__fresh peaches and whipped cream. Tea was always available.

Carriage rides, horse back riding and short walks were important. With a hat or parasol the face was always shielded from the sun. To prevent an unpleasant face with wrinkles, to frown was strictly against their code of ethics. If angry and not happy revealing a blank stare and no signs of emotions was as ugly as they wanted to get.

Victorian Beauty Peach Mask:__1-very ripe peach__2-tbs. heavy cream__1-tsp. fresh lemon drops.__1-egg white beaten until stiff. Blend the above together. Smooth on clean face. Recline for 30-min.__rinse face thoroughly__Apply dabs of almond oil to face.

Cornmeal face scrub: Wet face__scoop up a little corn meal from a nearby decanter__And gently scrub the face. Scant amt. of corn oil from the meal will leave a lubricating film on the skin.

Butter Milk Mask for Bleaching Skin: 1/2 cup Pure buttermilk__1 tbs cornstarch (thickener) mix together to make paste. Leave on face 30-min. Rinse off face. Paste is applied to face daily to brighten the skin. Results in 4-weeks.

Strawberry De-freckle Mask: 1/2 cup fresh strawberries__mashed to a paste__spread on the face and leave like this several hours to bleach skin and remove freckles. Best results leave on overnight. Strawberries leaves should be saved for when strawberries are out of season. The dry leaves are to be soaked in hot-warm water before application. The leaves are not as effective but will keep the skin until the berries are back in season.

Dietary plan:

Cold baths were taken by some women as part of a weight loss plan. It was believed, cold bath's stimulated the metabolism as the body worked harder to keep warm. This process encouraged ones body to burn calories and fat. The city of Bath just out side of London, is where hydro-theraphy was practiced. Every description of water cure could be obtained there. The ladies often spoke of this treatment as, " going to Bath for the waters ".

Lord George Gordon Byron: 1788-1824

The popular passionate poet known as Lord Byron most active during the regency era. Loved good food and was forever creating ways to keep his weight off. Now days he would have been considered to have an eating disorder. He often ate a lot at a dinner party or else where when the food was delectable. Regretting his overeating he would punish himself with ( weird for era ) crash diets. He also purged himself with laxatives and he was fully aware of the benefits of exercise often exercised to the excess. Then having to spend days in bed his friends assumed he was a sickly person. In his letters and journals he often writes about his excessive eating and his follow up solution of starvation.

He believed Apple-cider vinegar was the best solution to burn fat and calories. He has been documented as being the first to use this plan. Add 2-tbsp. apple-cider vinegar to a regular glass of water (8-oz.) and drink it 1/2 hr. before each meal. A favored weight loss trick of Lord Byron. Tea and biscuits only all day but not many. He ate plain peeled boiled potatoes or rice (1 or 2 )saturated with cider vinegar. When he was in Athens, Greece he took Turkish baths daily.

Many Victorian women followed Lord Byron's routine of weight loss commenting, "all I care about is that it works.

No starch diet: 1/2 fresh grapefruit before breakfast. 2-4 oz. meat three times a day. All meat must be lean trim of all fat then boiled to a simmer until very tender. Save juice to make broth skim of any fat. Green vegetables raw or vapor cooked ( steamed ). 1-cup with each meal. This has proved to be effective and a good way to maintain weight loss.

Strict Weight Loss Diet: From Mrs Beeton cookery. Must not be sensitive to Citrus: Morning: 1-large grapefruit no substitutes__ 2-soft or hard boiled eggs__Mid. morning 1-orange__cups of tea__ Noon: 1__banana and milk__1-cup coffee__Dinner: 1__boiled chicken breast and 1__boiled potato__1-tomato with lettuce- with lemon juice__Supper: 1-cup clabored milk ( yogurt) with 2-stewed prunes__cup Chamomile tea. That is all for 24 hours. To follow this diet for 4-weeks the Victorian women have taken off up to 20-lbs. and have felt strong. Men have been on this diet for 2-weeks and lost 15-lbs but felt diminished because of it. It was not encouraged that anyone remained on this diet for more that 4-weeks.

Barley Water: To relieve water retention and swelling of the extremities. 1__cup washed barley. Put in med. 3/4 full pot bring to a boil then turn low to simmer. Simmer I-hour. Strain off liquid chill and drink. Drink small glass twice a day, or whenever the body shows signs of swelling.

Barley water sweet drink: 1/4 cup pearl barley__1-qt and 1-tbsp. water__ rind and juice of 2-lemons. Put in your best pot bring to boil then simmer 2-hrs and stir at times. Strain now. Sweeten to taste. Add 3-drops of cherry syrup to color pink. Garnish with fresh lemon slice.

Diuretic: Parsley and watercress tea. Can be made from fresh sprigs of both. Bring a pot of hot water to a boil turn of and put 1-tbsp of each parsley and watercress in the hot water steep until water is green. Strain and drink one cup ( 2Xaday ) morn. and noon. Save leftover.


Arsenic astringent. 1/2 teaspoon in pint of boiling water let cool and be careful not to breathe vapors. Store ( mark poison ) and rinse face with after cleansing. Rinse again with clear after 5-minutes.

Cod liver oil 1-tsp to be taken ever morning with orange juice for beautiful glowing skin.

Frown line removal: Melt pure Bee's wax when warm not hot apply to frown lines between nose and on forehead. Leave on overnight. Wash face before removing wax. Remove wax with clean case or butter knife gently peeling upward. Brush away any wax crumbs and powder face as usual. Before re-application wash face well using favorite cleanser.

Hair collecting

One best kept Victorian secret. A Great many Victorian women wore their hair very long which was fashionable. Different styles could be dramatized with additional hair pieces such as braids, chignon, curls and waves. Hair collecting is a lost art like other Victorian skills. Tools Used: Barber shears, hair thinning shears, razors, and regular scissors. The hair to be removed is cut at the root. To Bind Hair Together: Horsehair is used for thread, a delicate crochet needle and regular needles are used. A tight weave is made to hold the ends of hair together. The latest fashion magazines were helpful to see the latest in-vogue hair styles.

Procedure for Hair Collecting: When long healthy strands of hair were lost they were saved. Usually this hair was retrieved after shampoo or hair brushing. A new collection might start with just a few long strands. These strands would be tied together with a silk ribbon in two places. The hair is then placed in a long thin cedar box made for this purpose.

The first day of spring or just before was believed to be the start of the hair growing cycle. Most Victorian women thinned their hair especially the English women. American women often settled for just triming the ends. If the hair was thin already at least 10-strains were thinned out. Usually at least 50-strands of hair were removed and the split ends cut. This helped to stimulate new healthy hair growth and to maintain thick healthy hair. The crop of hair that was removed became a part of their hair collection.

The up stairs maid often helped with this skill. In a year a nice switch has been collected. This switch is gently washed and conditioned with Alvera and placed back in the box. After several switches have been collected and conditioned they are joined together. Some times the women of a family get together and fashion their hair pieces. When told you have such beautiful long hair they can honestly say, " thank you I did it myself."

Aloe Vera Conditioning: 1-med. size alovera leaf__Boil 1-qt. water allow to cool__Slice aloe into the now warm water.__Add juice from 1-lemon__stir together enclose in qt. jar__after 24 hrs squeeze pulp and reserve juice__after shampoo condition hair with pure alovera. rinse hair well.


Victorian women of the upper classes were careful not to engage in premarital intercourse. If they did their chances of marriage would be zero. It was a dangerous deception to try to pass as a virgin. Their wedding night most likely would be a disaster. Although this did create a large market for prostitutes who solicited and found customers from the gentlemen who Victorian women hoped to marry. A contradiction hard for these women to live with.

Birth Control

1. Abstain from intercourse. 2. Coitus interrupts. 3. Vinegar and cold water ( hide the bag) internal cleansing. 4. Abstain from coitus 1-wk. before menses and one week after menses. There was nothing foolproof.

Home abortions

These were desperately dangerous solutions and against the law. 1. Cascara Sagrata--taken orally and douched with. 2. Quinine tablet insertion as many as they could obtain until results. 3. The dreaded midwife was usually called in the end.

The Light Skirts ( prostitutes ) that worked around " Covent Gardens" had little free time so they took the most desperate remedy of all. The arsenic douche. Of course without the proper dosage it could be fatal.


Regency era V/S Victorian era fashion wear:

1810-1820 The last 10-years of King George 3rd reign, he suffered from a genetic blood disease ( porphyria ) causing him to have a mental breakdown ( insanity ). His son Prince of Wales later King George 4th served as Regent.

During the Regency period men and Women's fashion emphasized the physical attributes of the body. In London, ladies were influenced by the latest French styles brought on by revolution and war. Women wore an empire frock type of dress. Very low neckline with high waistline, tight under the bust. The dress opened down the back and did not have pockets. Necessities were carried in a cute often matching drawstring bag, called a reticule. Fabrics used for these " Empire " dresses ranged from thin Egyptian cotton, muslin, and silks. French fashionable women wore dampened chemise under their thin dresses for emphasis. This soon caught on in London and New York.

1837-1901 As Queen Victoria's era began to influence love and family virtues styles began to change.

Corsets were relied upon by most Victorian women to maintain the hourglass look of their ever so tiny waistline. Corsets ranged from gentle for young and slender, medium, and strong. Strong corsets usually had strong stays worked around the waist and ex-strong hooks to fasten. Rumor gave credit to corsets with iron stays to hold in a over sized waistline together as to reasons why so many women fainted or got the vapors.

If you ever get a chance to examine a real time period Victorian costume you will be amazed at how much clothing was worn at one time. After 1901 when the Edwardian period started to dictate fashion women wore less clothing and appeared more comfortable.

Popular perfume and fragrance. Frangipani, named after Marquis Frangipani who invented it in the 16th century. Traditional and usually used on hand held hankies. A heady smell of a south sea island lei. It's fragrance was produced from a small red funnel flower used to make Hawaiian leis.

There were Victorian women who playfully spoke slang.

1. Tea Gown.....Teagie 2. Nightgown.....Nightie 3. To borrow money from friend with no intentions to pay back. Lootin ( looting ) 4. Disgusting person.....A diskie 5. A good cut to a gown......Fittums.

Reading: Victorian Wit and Humor Ronald Pearshale. A Study of Old English Literature C.L Wern


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    • beatrice dupree profile image

      beatrice dupree 7 years ago

      To: Camalo, Lillie Langtry being a beautiful British actress she had many sutors. Prince Albert Edward of wales presented her to his mother Queen Victoria. Princess Alexandra looked the other way as many Victorian women did.

      Thank you, bd

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 7 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      A really interesting Hub, Beatrice.

      I was drawn to it by the title picture of Lillie Langtry.

      There's a whole lot of information here, and not just about Victorian women's beauty secrets.

      An enjoyable read!

      All the best, Camlo