Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pommade Divine: 17th century It-Girl beauty secret

I'm a real goo girl. Give me a lotion, potion, ointment or cream and I will happily smear it on. I have such an assortment of skin products that hubby Matt refers to them collectively as "Girl Goo". He's even counted the layers of goo I apply in the morning. It's about six at minimum: body lotion, face cream, eye cream, neck cream, sunscreen, foundation. Then there's arnica for bumps and bruises and China Gel for over-yoga'd muscles. It might be a placebo, but cuts, scratches and bumps feel instantly better when I rub in a little something.

One of my favorite places to try high-quality skin care products is Ayla Beauty, based in San Francisco, they ship everywhere and they are wonderfully generous about sending samples to try. I recently got an email from them about a product new to me, Pommade Divine. When I read that it was Marie Antoinette's Great-Grandmother's beauty secret, I had to get to the Ayla shop ASAP to buy a jar.

Known at Versailles as "Liselotte", Princess Elisabeth Charlotte, born in 1652, was a fan of Pommade Divine. Isn't that a fabulous dress? The exaggerated corset-like bodice is similar 
to designs John Galliano did for Dior. 

Bavarian Princess Elisabeth Charlotte, Great Grandmother of Marie Antoinette and sister-in-law to King Louis XIV, makes the first mention of Pommade Divine in a letter dated February 4, 1720:

"You won't believe, dear Louise, what a good thing this pommade divine (is); for this reason, am I sending you a box, so that you can carry it with you in your bag at all times. Another thing: this pommade is good for; if you have burned yourself badly with sealing wax and treat it immediately with the pommade, it reduces the pain. I don't know how one could not like the smell of the pommade divine."

Called divine because it was originally made by Medieval monks, this ointment has survived through the centuries. It nearly disappeared in the late 1980's, but was it resurrected and is now attracting a new audience.

The packaging is clean and contemporary and the stamped metal lid gives it a European apothecary feel. With a combination of spices, essential oils and resins, it has a nice slightly medicinal light spicy pear scent. For the last month, I've kept the jar on my desk and use it on my cuticles, lips and around my eyes. While I don't get many sealing wax burns, I do love using something that has such a rich history.