Beautiful hands and nails were as important in the Victorian and Edwardian era as today. In the 1900s, tips were published how to keep the hands well-groomed even if a woman has to do the housework.
Wear old gloves when doing housework. If you had to immerse your hands in strong soap water, rub grease in afterwards, then wash with bland soap. Mix 1 part glycerin and 2 parts rosewater. Rub this mixture into the hands after washing. ‘This treatment will entirely prevent any harm from coarse soap.’ (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910)
‘However much a girl may dislike dish washing, she need not evade it because she thinks it will hurt her hands, for even the hottest water and strong soap will do no damage if a little “before and after” treatment is taken.’ (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910) Rub your hand and nails with cold cream before washing the dishes, and dust some powder on if you like. Now the hot soap water won’t be harmful to the skin. After the washing-up, clean your hands with clear water and mild soap, and brush your nails. Now, rub as much cold cream into the skin as if it were soap, then wipe it off thoroughly.
Removing Unpleasant Smells From Hands (The Druggist’s General Receipt Book, 1886)
- Linseed meal
Mix linseed meal with some water, and rub it over the hands.
Don’t go outside in winter without gloves as it will damage the nails. Soak dry nails every night for ten minutes in warm almond oil. ‘The same oil may be used several times.’ Don’t wash your fingers afterwards. ‘A woman who bites her nails should go to a physician for treatment, because this habit is almost always the result of an unhealthy physical condition’ (Health And Beauty Hints, 1910). A chamois burnisher may be used to polish the nails. At least once a day press back the cuticle (Three Meals A Day, 1902). Nails should be cut or filed short (A Girl’s Problems In Home Economics, 1926).