Full Version: The unashamedly non military girly thread
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
I've decided to infiltrate this part of RAT to set up a thread devoted to all things girly (to the modern beholder anyhow)in regards to cosmetics, perfumes, their medicinal and toxicological properties mainly and forms of toiletry- although 'girly' this thread would have have significance to the menfolk too- After all, even the great Caesar himself liked a bit of preening and polishing and this didn't stop his military prowess. Others like Elag...Helagobb...Eligabalalal....erm. Varius liked it a bit too much -apparently Wink

I am currently undertaking a series of experiments regarding these, and am currently working on depilatory methods and will be posting updates as I go along.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

At the moment I am mostly working on rhusma turcorumand it's effectiveness, hazards and comparing/ contrasting with modern sulphur based depilatory creams and their mechanisms.

Firstly though,a non girly question- has anyone ever used the orpiment/ calcium hydroxide method for hair removal from hides/ pigskin ??

Thanks!!! :grin:
Hi Memmia, what a great topic, but alas the women in our group don't visit RAT at all. However, I'll be glad to pass the questions around. First though, have you referenced the various books on Roman cosmetics that are out there? Sally Pointer as I recall was one of the first to examine that cosmetic box found in London the other year, and she has a book out.
Naughty Elagabalus. Didn't he wander Rome dressed as a prostitute giving out gold coins saying they were a gift from the Emperor?
Hi there!

Thanks, I have Sally Pointers book and also Susan Stewarts- they are excellent resources!
Thanks for your help- and get the ladies on here!!!! Big Grin :-D :-D

I'm also looking at researching the scientific/ medical aspects and benefits/ detriments (if any!)behind health and beauty treatments.
Theoretically, I think rhusma turcorum would work in a similar way as modern thioglycollate-based hair removal creams, by forming hydrosulphides which dissolve hair by breaking cystine bridges.
I'm puzzled about the supposed physical properties though. Dr Allason-Jones and others describes this cream as being bright green and that 'green blobs' would be seen floating on the surface of the water in the bath house. However, orpiment (arsenic disulphide) is bright yellow to orange- only copper arsenates are green- and copper compounds are totally incompatible with orpiment??
Upon mixing with calcium hydroxide (the modern texts quote quicklime, calcium oxide which I believe to be incorrect as this would cause severe burns)the resulting calcium hydrosulphide would break down the hair and the arsenic would form arsenic trioxide plus arsenites- which would be white and powdery and dissolve in the water- not forming floating green blobs as described in modern texts. Unless there is another ingredient or impurity?
Could anyone please confirm/ discount this ?
The odour would have been awful- from rotten egg to garlic-like- rather like modern creams!!
The arsenic component doesn't seem to have any purpose in the hair removal, the orpiment seems to just work (theoretically anyhow) as a sulphur donor for formation of the calcium hydrosulphide??
Orpiment is photodegradable and doesn't keep well- therefore I am not totally convinced it would be widely used, if ever, in provincial Britannia,being more suited to volcanic areas where orpiment is plentiful.

However, I do believe it was rather effective, if unpleasant! :grin:
Re- Elagabalus-I believe he did- plus lots more :wink: :oops:
P.S. An even scarier revelation is that in rural India, women still use the orpiment/ lime method for hair removal to this day. I have been unable to find any direct sources about this though, but maybe this is where Dioscorides got his idea from.