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11 Tips From Marie Antoinette’s Beauty Regimen

You can find beauty and fashion tips almost anywhere, but few compare to those from the Queen of Style herself—Marie Antoinette. As a trendsetter and “It Girl” of her time, she deliberately deviated from the more traditional styles of the time as a way of exercising power over the masses. Since she had no real political authority to wield, she did so with her glamour, and the fashion trends followed. Many of her beauty secrets were so effective, they’re still used by women today.

1. START WITH A GOOD, STRONG CLEANSER.

The Queen of France began her beauty routine with a special facial cleanser called Eau Cosmetique de Pigeon (yes, it was made from pigeons). According to The Toilette Of Health, Beauty, And Fashion, the cleanser was first used by Danish women and is made according to this recipe:

“Take juice of water-lilies, of melons, of cucumbers, of lemons, each one ounce; briony, wild succory, lily-flowers, borage, beans, of each a handful: eight pigeons stewed. Put the whole mixture into an alembic, adding four ounces of lump sugar, well pounded, one drachma of borax, the same quantity of camphor, the crumb of three French rolls, and a pint of white wine. When the whole has remained in digestion for seventeen or eighteen days, proceed to distillation, and you will obtain pigeon-water, which is such an improvement of the complexion.”

DIY skincare routines like this one were commonplace in 18th century France, because people believed they would help ward off illness. While regular full-body bathing was not the norm, facial cleansing was done more often, because products could be made from simple, household ingredients (and pigeons, of course).

2. THE CLEANER AND PALER YOUR SKIN, THE BETTER.

Once her face was sufficiently cleansed, Marie Antionette applied her astringent of choice, which was Eau des Charmes. Finally, she’d cover her face and neck in a whitener called Eau d’Ange. Pale skin was all the rage in the 18th century. It denoted someone of wealth and nobility, because it proved you didn’t have to work outside in the sun. Skin whitener also helped hide marks and blemishes, which were often remnants of diseases—something with which the upper class never wished to be associated.

3. NIGHTLY BEAUTY ROUTINES ARE ESSENTIAL.

In order to keep her hands soft, the Queen would wear gloves filled with wax, rose water, and sweet almond oil to bed every night. According to Melanie Clegg, author of Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History, she also applied saffron, turmeric, sandalwood, and rhubarb to her hair to maintain her strawberry blonde color. While she often wore wigs that would cover this color, she likely would’ve gone wig-free when she was receiving guests in her more relaxed salon in the afternoon. That meant that a pleasing natural hair color was essential.

4. BATHE YOUR BODY REGULARLY.

Despite being a frequent bather, she, like many other wealthy women of her time, would wear a bathing chemise to protect her modesty while in the tub. While sitting on a large pad filled with pine nuts, linseed, and sweet almonds, she washed her skin with scented bar soap and exfoliated with small, bran-filled muslin pads.

5. MAKE YOUR SKIN GLOW WITH A DIY FACE MASK.

Her signature face mask consisted of four simple ingredients: cognac, one egg, powdered milk, and a lemon. To make it, all you need to do is blend 2 teaspoons of cognac, one egg white, a third cup of powdered milk, and the juice of one lemon into a paste. She believed that the lactic acid in the milk and citric acid in the lemon dissolved dead skin cells, while the cognac stimulated circulation and tightened the pores, and the egg repaired skin tissue.

6. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH PERFUME ON AND AROUND YOU.

Because of its history as a rural hunting lodge, Versailles had a long history of sewage problems. (And it wasn’t just limited to Versailles. Rousseau once complained that there was nowhere to sit at the Palais Royal in summer without “inhaling the odor of stagnant urine.”) But the Queen did not stand for that. She had her chambers filled with fresh flowers, potpourri, sweet-smelling oils, and perfumes. On top of that, she doused herself in a variety of scents including violet, rose, vanilla, lavender, jasmine, lily, cloves, and her favorite, orange blossom.

7. YOUR MAKEUP BASE SHOULD BE THE WHITEST WHITE.

The other reason alabaster skin was so popular during Marie Antoinette’s time was because of the smallpox epidemic. Those who survived it were often left with deep pockmarks on their faces. And the thick, white face powder was one of the only things that masked them. If that didn’t do the trick, ladies would apply little black beauty marks often in the shapes of hearts, stars, and moons.

8. ROUGE IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE CHEEK AND LIP ENHANCEMENT.

To offset her extremely pale skin, Marie would often apply rouge to her cheeks and lips.  Marie’s coloring was usually procured from carmine, an insect-based pigment that was mixed with an acid, and then with alum. However, this combination was extremely expensive, so for everyone else, popular and cheaper alternatives included minium, also known as red lead, and cinnabar, the ore of mercury. Neither were known to be dangerous until the early 19th century.

9. WEAR YOUR HAIR BIG AND BOLD.

Marie Antoinette is a big part of why women in the 18th century sported hair that resembled giant cumulonimbus clouds. She popularized the pouf—a hairstyle support device designed by French stylist Léonard Autié that allowed women’s hair to tower as high as 2 feet above their heads. The pouf gave women the opportunity to show off their personalities with their strands. Marie would often accent her hairstyles with animals, birds, flowers, and any number of other novelty items.

The styles took hours to complete, and involved starting with a thin wire frame and triangular pillow to hold the shape. The woman’s hair would then be incorporated along with false hair and wig pieces to achieve the desired look. Marie’s mother, Marie Theresa, was not a fan of her daughter’s bold style, and even wrote her to tell her so. But that didn’t stop the Queen from creating hairstyles so big they wouldn’t fit into her carriage.

10. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY CLOTHES ... 

Marie Antoinette’s clothing collection would have put Cher from Clueless (1995) to shame. It easily filled three rooms at Versailles. Marie had 120,000 livres a year (which would’ve equaled almost $4 million today) with which to buy clothes and accessories—a massive allowance for anyone of exorbitant wealth. However, she often managed to overspend. One year, she mounted up a bill that was more than twice her allotment. She’d have hoards of dresses designed by Rose Bertin (the premiere dress designer of the day), with names like “Indiscreet Pleasures,” “Heart’s Agitation,” and “Stifled Sighs,” each costing anywhere between 1000 and 6000 livres.

11. ... BUT NEVER WEAR AN OUTFIT MORE THAN ONCE.

According to royal etiquette, the Queen was only allowed to wear a gown once, and was supposed to change her outfit three times a day. As you can imagine, this did not help her stick to her yearly allowance. She occasionally held onto some of her favorite dresses (for sentimental value only), and gave the others away to her ladies in waiting. Every morning, she’d be presented with swatches from her many new gowns, and she’d put pins in the ones she wanted to wear that day. They’d usually be a heavier dress for Mass, a lighter, muslin option for afternoon play, and a fancier choice for evening events. Needless to say, she spent a large percentage of her day changing.

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A Brief History of Black Friday
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The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is often referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year. But where did this tradition start and just how big is it? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about Black Friday. Hopefully they'll give you some good talking points tomorrow, when you line up outside Best Buy at 4 a.m.

HOW DID BLACK FRIDAY BECOME SUCH A BIG SHOPPING DAY?

It's hard to say when the day after Thanksgiving turned into a retail free-for-all, but it probably dates back to the late 19th century. At that time, store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades were common, and once Santa Claus showed up at the end of the parade, the holiday shopping season had officially commenced.

In those days, most retailers adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn't start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. Thus, when the floodgates opened that Friday, it became a huge deal.

SO RETAILERS WERE ALWAYS HOPING FOR AN EARLY THANKSGIVING?

You bet. They weren't just hoping, though; they were being proactive about it. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn't begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Ever the iconoclast, Roosevelt saw an easy solution to this problem: he moved Thanksgiving up by a week. Instead of celebrating the holiday on its traditional day—November 30th that year—Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday in November to be the new Thanksgiving, instantly tacking an extra week onto the shopping season.

BRILLIANT! HOW DID THAT WORK OUT?

Not so well. Roosevelt didn't make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its "real" date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as "Franksgiving." State governments didn't know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. In short, it was a bit of a mess.

By 1941, though, the furor had died down, and Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, regardless of how it affected the shopping day that would become known as Black Friday.

WHY CALL IT BLACK FRIDAY?

If you ask most people why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, they'll explain that the name stems from retailers using the day's huge receipts as their opportunity to "get in the black" and become profitable for the year. The first recorded uses of the term "Black Friday" are a bit less rosy, though.

According to researchers, the name "Black Friday" dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that's played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday, so the City of Brotherly Love was always bustling with activity on that day. All of the people were great for retailers, but they were a huge pain for police officers, cab drivers, and anyone who had to negotiate the city's streets. They started referring to the annual day of commercial bedlam as "Black Friday" to reflect how irritating it was.

SO WHERE DID THE WHOLE "GET IN THE BLACK" STORY ORIGINATE?

Apparently store owners didn't love having their biggest shopping day saddled with such a negative moniker, so in the early 1980s someone began floating the accounting angle to put a more positive spin on the big day.

DO RETAILERS REALLY NEED BLACK FRIDAY TO TURN AN ANNUAL PROFIT?

Major retailers don't; they're generally profitable—or at least striving for profitability—throughout the entire year. (A company that turned losses for three quarters out of every fiscal year wouldn't be a big hit with investors.) Some smaller outlets may parlay big holiday season sales into annual profits, though.

IS BLACK FRIDAY REALLY THE BIGGEST SHOPPING DAY OF THE YEAR?

It's certainly the day of the year in which you're most likely to be punched while reaching for a Tickle Me Elmo doll, but it might not be the busiest day in terms of gross receipts. According to Snopes.com, Black Friday is generally one of the top days of the year for stores, but it's the days immediately before Christmas—when procrastinators finally get shopping—that stores make the serious loot. Black Friday may, however, be the busiest day of the year in terms of customer traffic.

Snopes's data shows the 10-year span from 1993 to 2002, and in that interval Black Friday was never higher than fourth on the list of the year's busiest shopping days by sales volume. In 2003 and 2005 Black Friday did climb to the top of the pile for sales revenue days, but it still gets stiff competition from the week leading up to Christmas, particularly the Saturday right before the big day.

DO PEOPLE REALLY GET INJURED ON BLACK FRIDAY?

Sadly, yes. One of the most tragic Black Friday incidents happened in 2008, when 34-year-old seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour was killed after a crowd of hundreds of people from the approximately 2000 people waiting outside knocked him own and stampeded over his back after the doors opened at 5 a.m. at the Wal-Mart on Long Island, New York.

In 2010 in Buffalo, New York, several shoppers were trampled trying to get into a Target. One of the victims, Keith Krantz—who was pinned against a metal door support and then shoved to the ground—told a CNN affiliate he thought he would be killed. “At that moment, I was thinking I don't want to die here on the ground,” Krantz said.

In Murray, Utah, 15,000 shoppers swamped a mall with such force, the local police had to respond to break up skirmishes and fistfights, and keep shoppers from ransacking stores.

In 2008, a fight broke out between a young girl and a man at another Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio, over a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen television. It was $798, marked down from $1000. The New York Times reported that the not-so-aptly-named Nikki Nicely, 19, leaped onto a fellow shopper’s back and began pounding his shoulders violently when he attempted to purchase the television. “That’s my TV!” shouted Ms. Nicely, who then took an elbow to the face. “That’s my TV!” The fight was broken up by a police officer and security guard. “That’s right,” Nicely cried as her adversary walked away. “This here is my TV!”

HOW CAN THIS KIND OF THING BE AVOIDED?

In an effort to keep a few would-be clients from personal injury law firms, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created a special checklist for retailers expecting large crowds.

So what’s OSHA’s advice? Consider using bullhorns. Hire a team of police officers. Be prepared for “crowd crushing” and “violent acts.” Set up barricades. And, above all else, if charging shoppers come running, stay out of the way.

Haley Sweetland Edwards contributed to this story, portions of which originally appeared in 2009.

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A Speedy History of the Hess Truck
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Hess Corporation

Unless you know someone crazy about air fresheners or caffeine pills, holiday gifts purchased at gas stations don’t usually provoke much excitement. But if you were one of the millions who grew up in the northeast, the annual release of the Hess toy truck at Hess gas stations—usually green, always labeled with a Hess logo, always boxed with batteries—was and is as much a part of the holiday as Santa Claus and his sleigh.

The idea for an affordable, quality children’s toy sold at service stations at thousands of Hess locations in 16 states was courtesy of Leon Hess, the college dropout-turned-fuel magnate who began selling oil door-to-door in 1933 and graduated to gas stops by 1960. Hess decided he would trump the cheap merchandise given away by gas stations—mugs, glassware—by commissioning a durable, feature-heavy toy truck modeled after the first oil tanker he ever bought for his company. Unlike most toys of the era, it would have headlights that really worked and a tank that kids could either fill up or drain with water.

Most importantly, Hess insisted it come with batteries—he knew the frustration suffered by kids who tore into a holiday present, only to discover they’d have to wait until it had a power source before it could be operated.

The Hess Tanker Truck went on sale in 1964 for $1.29 and sold out almost instantly. Hess released the toy again in 1965, and then introduced the Voyager Tanker Ship in 1966. For the next 50 years, hardly a year went by without Hess issuing a new vehicle that stood up to heavy play and offered quality and features comparable to the “real” toys on store shelves. Incredibly, fathers would wait in line for hours for an opportunity to buy one for their child.

The toy truck became so important to the Hess brand and developed such a strong following that when the company was bought out in 2014 and locations converted to the Speedway umbrella, new owners Marathon Petroleum promised they would keep making the Hess trucks. They’re now sold online, with the newest—the Dump Truck and Loader, complete with working hydraulics and STEM lesson plans—retailing for $33.99. Bigger, better toy trucks may be out there, but a half-century of tradition is hard to replicate.

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