The care of hands - tips from the 1930s

I have a bit of a love/hate affair with my hands. Unfortunately I have the disgusting habit of biting my nails when I am in stressful situations. Although that reduced itself drastically over the past years, I have long nails this week and shorter nails the next. But whatever length of nails, they are 99% of the time decorated with a fancy color. Most of the time Burgundy red or jungle red but I also love a shade slightly darker than Byzantium purple on my nails for chique evenings out.

I promised in the post of yesterday to share tips from a beauty and health book written in the 1930s by Anka Welman. Hands are today-o's subject. Let's go!

Anka Welman in the book Moderne schoonheids- en gezondheids verzorging (1930):
"The face is the mirror of the soul, both in physical and spiritual sense, the hands can however - if I can put it that way - be a recommendation. Unfortunately the opposite is often the case.  The shape of the hands cannot be changed by massage but they can always - even when the crudest work is done with them - look ladylike and well groomed.

In addition, one should not forget that the hands, when they are not effectively taken care of or neglected, are starting to look aged quite quickly. Further should be considered that no other part of the body is so much at risk, not only by dirt but also by germs - for example because of money or handshakes etc. - so that it's the duty of every cultivated woman to wash her hands as often and as good as is possible, to not transmit germs and even prevent infection.

In the winter it is much more difficult to keep the hands properly cared for than in the summer. During the winter, the hands also need more fat for their care. The hands of a housewife are suffering particularly from the house chores, so that they, in order to look well groomed, need a profound treatment. After every dirty chore, the hands must be rubbed with a slice of lemon, and after that the hands will be cleansed in warm water in which a teaspoon of Borax, soda or glycerin is added - using a hand and nail brush for thorough cleaning. Next, the hands will be rinsed with cold water and, especially in the winter, well dried with a soft cloth. This should never be neglected, for it's precisely the bad drying of the hands that is the main cause of red and chapped hands.

The housewife also needs, every night before she goes to bed, cleanse her hands thoroughly, because, once the debris seeps into the pores and cracks of the hands, especially in during the winter, it's difficult to get the hands back in order.

Neglected hands
To make neglected hands presentable again, they must first be rubbed off properly with glycerine soap and pumice stone soap, pumice powder or with damp soap and then brushed off in warm water with Borax or soda. When the hands are very neglected, one can also rub the hands with bleaching powder - which is doubled folded in a gauze and dipped in warm water - and then use pumice powder. It is best to do a proper cleanse in the evening after which the hands will be rubbed with an ointment. The ointment can be concocted with Lanoline or coldcream and 1 part Borax (it is optional to add a fragrant essence). You can also combine Lanoline with glycerine or sweet almond oil and rose or lily water and 5% Borax as an ointment. During the night, the hands should be enveloped in gloves made of deer leather, of which the fingertips of the gloves have been cut off and the palm equipped with holes, so that the hands are not cut off from air.

When does this several times, even the most neglected hands will be presentable again.

Clammy hands
The so-called clammy hands - a strong sweat secretion, accompanied by cold hands - can be attributed to poor circulation. In this case, it is recommended to massage the hands regularly. As a lubricant you can use powder made of 3% salicylic or formalinpowder or a conconction of 1 part salicylic acid, 1part of formalin, 1 part Tannin with 100 parts talc.

Sweaty hands
Sweat hands should be washed in lukewarm water that contains 1 coffeespoon on 1 liter Formalin. Also a decoction of 3 coffeespoons on 1 liter ( that has been boiled for 10 minutes) oak bark is recommendable. 

Itcy winterhands
Against the itching of Chilblains (not to be confused with frostbite) you can rub them with onion juice or a hot cloth with hot and diluted alcohol (in the ratio of 1 part alcohol on 2 parts water)


  1. Love these classic hand care tips. I'm feeling nail polish and nail art more this year then I have since I was in my teens, so it's great to have some fresh tips for keeping my tips (couldn't resist, sorry :)) in top shape for lots of fun manis in 2014.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Thanks for the classic beauty tips! So much better than the modern ones, which are "buy this product."


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