‘Turkish Rouge’ is a Victorian liquid blush which is naturally tinted with alkanet root. In the Victorian era, Turkish rouge was called ‘the simplest and one of the best’ (A Perpetual Calendar, 1896). Turkish rouge ‘is a superior rouge; it will not rub off, and is in no way injurious to the face.’ (Arts Revealed, and Universal Guide, 1855) Since ancient times, alkanet root was also used to color cosmetics: ‘Galen in his time, noticed the root as a cosmetic, and the rouge made from it is said to be the most ancient, as well as the most innocent of all the paints for the face.’ (The Songs of the Seasons, and Wild Flowers of the Months, 1851) The natural liquid blush recipe is easy to make, with just two ingredients.
1896 Turkish Rouge
- 1 part alkanet root
- 8 parts alkohol (the recipe doesn’t state what alcohol to use, so I used 75% ethanol)
- jar with lid
Macerate alkanet root and alcohol for ten days at room temperature.
After some days, the Turkish rouge is dark red. Now strain the Turkish rouge through a sieve.
Turkish rouge ‘may be applied with a linen cloth wet in the mixture. It will easily wash off and cannot be detected on the face, which is one thing greatly in its favor.’ (The People’s Own Book of Recipes and Information for the Million, 1867)
It’s difficult to apply because it’s so watery. And the alkanet extract stains everything: fingertips, clothes etc. On the skin Turkish rouge is rather red than pink. It doesn’t give much color, and it’s difficult to remove. I prefer the Victorian alkanet cream blush together with my fresh rose petal powder blush.
I tried to make powdered blush with Turkish rouge, so I mixed the liquid blush with some starch. But when it’s dried the next morning, it’s just a very pale pink: too white on the skin.
Here you’ll find more natural blush recipes.