Sunday, July 25, 2010

Question from Iona - Tudor ideas of beauty

What was considered beautiful in men and women during the reign of Henry VIII? What kind of make-up did women wear and did men wear any? What beauty treatments did they use? Did they bother with hair removal?

There seem to have been a lot of pale redheads at the Tudor courts. Was it just more common then or was it just the way they were painted? Anne Boleyn looks auburn-haired and pale in one portrait but that doesn't fit descriptions.


Alia said...

The Tudor idea of female beauty was blonde hair, blue eyes, very pale skin, and a full figure. Freckles were despised--if you had them, you would spent a lot of time concealing them. The Tudor idea of male beauty was tall and muscular and athletic-looking, and fair as well.
Men and women, women especially, went to great lengths to be what was thought of as beautiful. They applied lead paste, rosewater, and eggshell powder, as well as other things, on their face, and bathed in ice-cold baths. They also dyed their hair--for example, Mary I dyed her hair, and Catherine Parr dyed the inch that showed between her forehead and headress, once her hair had turned gray. Women applied rouge (sp?) among other outlandish, and dangerous, remedies.
I'm not sure about hair removal, but I think they did.

There were some pale redheads, and these are the most famous: Henry VIII, his children Elizabeth, Mary, and Edward, and Jane, Catherine, and Mary Grey. I'm sure there were others, but not a significant amount. Redheads were fashionable because the Tudors had red hair, from Elizabeth of York.
Hope this helps :)

Iona said...

That's really interesting, Alia, how do we know that Catherine Parr dyed her hair? And didn't she look a bit silly with only part of it done?