IT may be as well to call attention to the functions of the skin in order to impress upon my readers the importance of bathing and bathing often, regardless of the advice of some physicians to the contrary; contrary, also, to the practice of our grandmothers (bless their dear hearts), who were taught to consider this duty to themselves religiously dune if a hot water bath were taken Saturday night, and "suggested" baths during the week.
While I take Dr. Cutter as authority for a good many of my statements, everyone knows there are two layers of membrane, the cuticle or scarf skin, and the cutisvera or true skin. The cuticle or epidermis has no perceptible nerves or blood vessels. The true skin contains arteries, veins and nerves, oil glands, perspiratory glands and tubes without number. No part of the true skin can be punctured by ever so fine a needle without transfixing a nerve and producing pain. The numerous oil glands connect with the surface of the skin by small tubes, the apertures of which are commonly spoken of as pores. They are most abundant on the face, nose and head. I n persons having a torpid skin the contents of the oil tubes become too solid and dry to escape in the usual manner--it collects and distends the tube until forcibly removed ; the dirt mingling with it produces that horror to all ladies "blackheads." To arrive at something of an estimate of the value of the perspiratory system, counting the pores on the palm of the hand there were found to be 2,528 in a square inch. Now each of these pores being the aperture of a little tube about 1/4 inch long, in a square inch there exists a length of tube equal to 882 inches or 73 1/2 feet. Dr. Wilson says 2,800 might be taken as a fair estimate of the number of pores to the square inch of skin. The number of square inches on a person of ordinary size is about 2,500. The number of pores then would be 7,000,000 and the num ber of inches of perspiratory tube 1,950,000, or 28 miles! Now what if this drainage be obstructed ? It is easy to understand that health and beauty depend largely upon the skin performing its functions systematically, when we consider the system digests daily about 7 pounds of food and drink, from one to two pounds of which is thrown off through the skin alone. A result obtained perfectly by frequent bathing only.
Some physicians maintain that weak constitutions can not stand frequent bathing. I firmly believe bathing to be as much of a tonic to the weak as to the strong. It must be done judiciously, however. On waking in the morning the skin is in a very moist condition and covered with poisonous matter thrown off during sleep. Is it better for the weak person to allow the skin to reabsorb that poison ? A quick sponge bath from head to foot with cold watcr and a violent rubbing with flesh brush or coarse towel need not take more than five minutes, and the weakest person is benefited by the exercise. The blood is sent tingling through the veins, and there is no danger of taking cold through the day, no matter what the changes of weather may be.
A hot bath should be taken at night before retiring. It is quite as necessary to relieve the skin of the dust and dirt accumulated through the day. The same quick bath, using pure soap (see to it the water is hot, not warm), removes all foreign matter and rests the tired nerves, making sleep the sweeter afterward. These quick baths, with the exercise of rubbing one's self vigorously with coarse towels, bringing every muscle into play, can not but be invigorating to the constitution, and when taken daily and systematically will save many a doctor's bill. It is all the tonic an inactive liver needs.
In, addition to this, once a week a Turkish bath, Oh, the luxury of these Turkish baths. There are physicians who spend a great deal of energy in their arguments against them. Undoubtedly they have their own reasons for so doing, Dr. Wilson, a noted dermatologist of England, has written a book containing 5,000 pages on the subject, and gives scientific reasoning why Turkish baths must necessarily be the enemy to the physician whose income depends entirely upon the prevalence of disease. If, as he says, Turkish baths not only cure but prevent disease, what would our physicians do for "bread to eat" in a community where the benefit was generally understood. A great many ladies say they can not take these baths. If the prescribed method is too severe at first, there are ways of modifying it. It is not necessary to stay in the heated rooms until exhausted. The luxury of the rubbing, scrubbing, showering, plunge, rest and sleep afterward can be remembered only with pleasure. Many ladies, particularly those living in small towns, have not the conveniences for Turkish bathing. A great deal can be accomplished in one's own home, even if one has not the luxury of a modern bath-room. Use anything that will hold water. Have the water hot, not warm, and keep it hot by adding to it. Soften it with a little ammonia or borax, using a good soap, remain in long enough to soak off the old layer of skin. Sponge off in clear water, made delightfully fragrant and sweet by the addition of some toilet water, that can be purchased at a trifling expense, or better still can be manufactured at home. Rub the shin thoroughly dry with coarse towels, slip on clean underclothing, a comfortable dressing gown, lie down on a couch, rest and take comf ort. A bath of this kind should be taken rather early in the evening, giving one plenty of time for "beauty sleep," There is nothing gives a sparkle to the eye, roundness and roses to the cheeks like sleep gotten before midnight and after a hot bath.
I will give a few recipes for toilet water. Any of them added to the bath makes the skin soft and vel vety:
|1 lb. of Barley Meal.
2 lbs. of Bran.
1 oz, of Borax.
Dissolve in two quarts of water. Strain into an ordinary bath of about thirty gallons. Another good way is to put the barley, bran and borax into a cheese-cloth bag and allow it to remain in the bath water until dissolved.
An equally delightful tonic for the skin is as follows:
|1 oz. Tincture of Camphor.
1/2 oz. Tincture of Benzoine.
2 oz. Cologne Water.
Drop slowly into the bathing water. This makes a refreshing wash for the face, neck and hands by adding a little to a smaller quantity of water.
The following is a very good substitute for a milk bath, easier to obtain and at a much less expense:
|1/2 lb. Marshmallow Flour.
1/4 lb. Hyssop Erb.
4 lbs. Bran Flour.
Put into a cheese-cloth bag, and add to an ordinary bath of thirty gallons.
Ladies with an oily skin may bathe the face with this lotion.
|1/2 oz. Borax. 1 oz, chemically pure Glycerine. 1 qt. Camphor Water,|
It is very healing, whitening and beneficial.
The following is excellent in cases of fever, as well as a good remedy for an oily skin:
|6 oz. Carbonate of Soda,
1 oz. Borax.
Dissolve in one quart of hot water and add to the bath.
A most excellent remedy for keeping the hands or face smooth as satin is, after washing and rinsing off the soap with clear water, and just before drying, to take a few drops of lotion made from the following formula, into the palm of the hands and rub over face, neck, hands and arms:
|3 oz, Rose Water. 1 oz. Glycerine (a little less). 10 drops of Carbolic Acid.|
I will venture to say that any one using this will never have a rough skin under any circumstances. Not so very long ago an enterprising individual for the benefit of beauty, as well as a well filled pocketbook, advertised this lotion, extensively, under a fancy name, as a -great "toilet secret," and sold it at a "fancy" price. For the benefits really received
ladies were willing to pay the price, which I think was one dollar for a four-ounce bottle. Any druggist will put it up for 25 cents, or 20 cents if you furnish the bottle.
Right here I may as well say something about glycerine. Whether "chemically pure" or otherwise, it is bad for the skin unless very much diluted. wellknown physician once told me that by the continued use of glycerine a lady's face would become like a piece of parchment. It has a tendency to dry, burn and darken the skin, but when very much diluted with rosewater or distilled water, the effect is counteracted, and it becomes an excellent emollient.
This is a bath much prized by a beautiful Russian lady. When one has taken cold, or feels very much fatigued, fill a pint cup with pine needles (to be had at any drug store, if you do not live in a pine country), add enough boiling water to make about 2 quarts of tea. After drinking a Wine-glassful pour the rest into a hot bath. After bathing go to bed, you will awaken thoroughly refreshed, and with no trace of cold.
One might write for days on this subject of bathing and then leave something unsaid. I wish I could impress upon my readers the importance of it, in its relation to beauty. Of course there are hundreds of opinions, in regard to it, expressed by as many different people. Regardless of physicians, and the preconceived ideas of those discussing the subject, the actual experience of persons who have "tried and found it true" is worth much more than all the prescribed rules laid down.
Mrs. Langtry, to whose complexion all concede the palm, takes a cold plunge every morning. After a thorough rubbing wraps herself in blankets, rests twenty minutes, drinking her coffee or chocolate meanwhile. Our own Mrs. Frank Leslie, one of the most beautiful and one of the most physically perfect women in the world takes a cold dip in the morning, that with regular exercise, eating and sleeping gives her the appear ance, upon the closest inspection, of a woman on the sunny side of thirty-five. While as a matter of fact her age must run into the shad ows by several years.