There’s a definite sense here in London that Autumn is just around the corner. Today we take a look at how our Georgian ancestors might have prepared for an imminent cold snap, with this method for ‘Mamma’s’ lip salve…
Receipt for a Lip Salve – Mammas Way
Take a pint & half of claret, a qr of a pd of currants, 1 pd of butter without salt, 4 or 5 ounces of Virgins Wax & 2 ounces of ye root Alkanet, otherwise call’d Alcony. This last with ye wine & currants must be boyl’d a pritty while. Afterwards, ye butter & wax being put in, must be boyl’d a little, then strain all into a bason. If, when cold, you find it too soft, add more wax. If too hard, add more butter. When it tis cold, ye top must be taken of & melted by it self & strain’d into little cups for use. If you have a mind to sweeten it, strain it with orange flower water or what else you think fit.
Fresh (virgin) beeswax, known for its healing properties, would have helped to soften and soothe the lips. In this recipe it is combined with unsalted butter, another lubricant.
Alkanet would have lent the salve a vivid red colour. Derived from the root of Alkanna tinctoria, a Southern European plant with blue flowers, it was also thought to have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Currants and orange flower water were added for flavour, while the alcohol in the claret would have acted as a preservative.
All in all it doesn’t look too bad – no unsavoury additions such as hog’s lard, such as we’ve seen in previous cosmetic recipes. We wonder whether it would stand up to the lip salves we buy in the shops today…