I've had this book for a long time with the intention of following one of their hairstyle tutorials.
To start, I want to try out the Coiffure Française as it's a relatively easy tutorial (I'm a hairstyling novice!) and it also suits my current hair length. But in order to do that first I need the supplies!
I need to make pomade, hard pomade and hair powder. I won't include the specifics of the recipes in this tutorial; if you want to follow along, I encourage you to purchase American Duchess' book. They are a wonderful company that produce quality products and deserve all the support they can get!
As you can see, following this tutorial requires a lot of supplies, which is part of the reason why this tutorial took me so long to get around to (if you work a lot with your hair you may already have some of these supplies). I won't gripe about it on this post; if you want to read my full review of this book, you can check out that post here.
Now that I have everything, I can get to making the supplies so join me on my journey!
Pomatum (or pomade) was essential to 18th century hair care and has been used throughout human history to help style, curl and care for our hair. This is where we'll start our Georgian hairstyling journey.
Rendered mutton tallow
Rendered pig lard (for these, I went to to online meat suppliers. I imagine you can buy them from local butchers too)
Essential oils (lemon, clove)
Despite AD (I'm going to refer to the authors in this way for ease and clarity) scaling down the recipe considerably, I scaled it down even further, mainly due to what I could source and my minimal storage space.
*Future me* You only need a very small amount of pomatum if you're not planning to do a lot of Georgian hairstyles- a little pomatum goes a long way.
The first step is soaking the mutton tallow. You need to do this for seven to ten days, so if you're planning to prep all of your hair supplies in one sitting (as I did!) don't forget to do this in advance.
In AD's pictures, the tallow almost looks fluffy so I was expecting quite a different texture than the hard mutton tallow I had to scrape at. Having done it myself and taken pictures, I can see how it might look that way; but do be aware, if you do try this out for yourself, the tallow may look fluffy in pictures but it's actually very hard, so don't worry about whether you've bought the wrong thing!
I imagine some people wouldn't be comfortable using animal products in their hair; AD themselves predicted this and wrote out a rationalisation for those on the fence. I, personally, have no hang-ups about this. I've used hair products for years and I have absolutely no idea what goes into the various bottles and cans I've put directly onto my scalp. At least with this, you know exactly what's going into your hair products. Perhaps I've done too much historical research; animal products are tame in comparison to what some women have done in pursuit of beauty throughout history.
I ended up soaking my tallow for longer than ten days, and it still had a very distinct smell, even after soaking it for longer and changing out the water regularly.
*Future me* don't be too concerned- that's what the essential oils are for!
To melt the two fats together I set up a bain-marie.
The pig lard took a lot longer to melt than the mutton tallow for some reason- I had to keep breaking it apart into smaller chunks in order for it to melt more quickly.
Once combined, the fats can now be removed from the heat. AD recommends using a mixer to 'hasten the cooling until it has a smooth, creamy consistency.'
With such a small amount, I don't think using the mixer did anything for my batch. It didn't seem to cool any more quickly, and the consistency didn't change, having been rather smooth already. Next time, I wouldn't do this step, just so I don't have another thing to wash up!
As I waited for this to cool (for about half an hour), I went and made the hair powder. However, for your sake, I'll speed up the cooling process and continue the tutorial right now!
AD recommends using lemon and clove oil to disguise the animal smell of the fats, but they do also warn that some people have a sensitivity to clove oil (I rubbed a bit on my arm before using it). I obviously hadn't read the ingredients thoroughly enough as I didn't realise how much lemon oil you needed; 25ml! I didn't have that much, but I added as much as I could.
*Future me* The lemon oil is essential in cutting through the animal smell. I didn't use enough and so my pomade is still a little gamey. Not unbearably so, but don't underestimate the importance of the lemon!
Mix the scents through, then you can transfer the pomatum into a jar. Make sure to sterilize, or at least thoroughly clean, the jar beforehand.
*If you're also making hard pomatum, some behind in a separate container.*
AD's recipe gave enough for four jars; mine only filled half of one! But, as I discovered, for a little bit of experimentation that's enough.
In order to make hard pomatum, you need common pomatum, so make sure to keep some behind when making unless you want to make a whole new batch!
Essential oils (clove, lemon- can also add others, like lavendar, rose, jasmine and orange flower)
Hard pomatum uses beeswax so it's stickier, more for fixing the hair rather than prepping it. AD says that it's better for hotter climates, and 'is also crucial when frizzing, crape-ing and curling your hair.'
Measure out the beeswax (which is what will make the pomatum 'hard'!).
Using a bain-marie again, melt the beeswax and pomatum together.
My beeswax took so long to melt, I was concerned I hadn't bought the correct type! But eventually it all melted, it just needed a lot of patience.
In the instructions, it says to remove from the heat and stir for ten minutes 'until cool enough to accept the scent, but just before it turns opaque.' I found that mine turned opaque almost immediately, and I shouldn't have waited as all it did was harden and stick to the bowl. I actually had to put it back on the heat to melt it again.
*Future me* if you can avoid using your kitchen supplies to make any of these supplies, I'd probably recommend it- especially the hard pomatum!
Add the scents (for this, AD recommend clove, lemon, lavender, rose, jasmine and orange flower- I used clove, lemon and orange flower).
Working quickly, decant the hard pomatum into something you can use to pour, then transfer into the moulds. I'm just using an ice cube tray.
It's a shame so much stuck to the measuring jug as it felt like I was wasting it, not to mention the horrendous clean-up after! I don't know how you can avoid this; I had already re-melted it once, and it takes such a long time to melt in the first place.
The mould can then be left to set in the fridge for two to four hours. Once hard, the hard pomatum can be popped out and stored in a cool place.
Hair powder is essentially dry hair shampoo, soaking up and 'setting' the pomatum so your hair doesn't look greasy. When used in liberal amounts, it also gives the white 'powdered wig' effect so iconic of the Georgian era.
Ground orris root
Cornstarch (or, in the UK, cornflower)
Now it's about to get fluffy. Be prepared for a thorough clean up after this!
To find ground orris root I went to a health food supplier, cornflower was sourced from the supermarket. I had to try and remember my maths ratio skills for this as I had a certain amount of cornflower and had to scale the amount of orris root against that.
I did manage to work out the ratios (eventually), and sieved the cornflower into a bowl.
On top of this, I added the orris root.
Then I mixed them together.
Once they've been mixed, they can be sieved again, just to make sure there aren't any clumps or bits.
(Told you it was going to get messy!)
Add some scents, if you would like- I'm just going to use some sweet orange oil.
I sieved the concoction a few more times, just to be on the safe side, and then decanted it all into a tupperware container.
Now that the supplies are all made up, I can actually try out some of the hairstyles! But first, I would like to play around with one of the hairpieces outlined in the book: buckles.
Next week, I'm going to write up how I got on with making buckles and then it'll be my turn to try the Coiffure Française!
Until next time,