Recipe for eternal youth

From an anonymous early 18th-century collection of remedies, the following recipe is for a Pomatum, a perfumed ointment that was normally employed as a kind of hair gel, but in this case was claimed to preserve the user’s looks as they were when they first started to apply it! I’ve modernised the spelling and punctuation – and there’s no guarantee as to its efficacy…

Take the kidney of a very fat sheep, lay it eight days in spring water and be sure to turn it once a day. Pick the fat clean from the skins and beat it very well in a stone mortar, having dried it very well first with a clean cloth. Then put your suet into a pipkin [earthenware cooking pot] and melt it with a gentle fire, stirring it often with a spoon. When ’tis melted put in a good big white lilly-root, cleaned, washed and dried and bruised a little, a quarter of an ounce of benjamin and as much storax [these are a shrub and a tree, so probably the bark], both bruised, with 2 grams of musk. Then boil all together softly for a quarter of an hour, then strain it into a basin and beat it a little and put it into flat pots. When ’tis cold tie papers upon them and keep them in a cool place.

Then to make it fit for your use, take half a pound of the suet and put it into a can and let it stand in a skillet of boiling water till it be melted. Then put to that quantity 4 ounces of sweet almonds, finely beaten. Pour it into a silver or white basin and put to it 3 spoonfuls of rose water, stir it very well with your hand one way till it be quite cold.

Wash your face with it on a cloth every night, but do not wipe it off. You shall never look worse if you continue this than when you began to use it.

Mind you, I’m not sure any sleeping partner would welcome a face covered in suet, so your efforts may be in vain!

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