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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Sleepy bugs in the corners of your eyes.

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

Soiled Faces.

It is a startling and somewhat amusing fact, says the New York Commercial Advertiser, that the majority of people’s faces are seldom clean. Generally, the habit of washing the face in the morning prevails, but with many persons is the only time in twenty-four hours that this ablution takes place. With some women there exists a prejudice against washing their faces at all; they believe that bathing and rubbing produce eruptions-that the skin of the face is handsomer the less it is washed. Men return from business, and before entering the drawing-room, retire to their dressing apartments to “wash their hands and brush their hair,” unconscious that their faces are not clean. Ladies come home from a shopping excursion or a drive in the park, and arrange their toilets without touching their faces, except to dust them with powder as the last act of embellishment. We invariably send the children to their nurse to have their faces washed before dinner, or a dozen times daily; but because we are men and women, and have not streaks of black across cheek or nose, we do not question the cleanliness of our faces. It is taken for granted that the faces of adult creation are clean, unless it be those of machinists, chimney sweeps or coal heavers. We are certainly impressed with the muddy complexion of Mrs. Slovenly, and remark how “swallow” Mrs. Slipshod has become, but it did not occur to us that their faces are always soiled. We meet Miss Blank on the promenade, who has risen late and washed hurriedly, leaving the sleepy bugs in the corners of her eyes; we exclaim:- “Had Miss Blank a clear skin, how pretty she would be.” We should not believe that it was rarely that Miss Blank’s face was thoroughly washed; that it was usually covered with “Oriental Cream” and dust, which being slept in at night, and and but half removed in the morning, soon changes the natural purity of the skin.

There is no portion of the body that requires so much care as to cleanliness as the face. It is the receptacle for the dust from the room day and night. It receives the siftings blown from the ash barrels and coal carts, and all impurities in the streets. Specks of oily dandruff from the hair are hourly falling on the face, and the most conservative of us are constantly placing our faces against something that soils, from the cheek of the sour baby, who is the pet of the household, to the shaggy coat of Romp, the dog, whom we stoop to fondle now and then, saying nothing of the kittens who brush against the side of our faces, from the backs of our easy chair twenty times daily, and whom we know to have fleas. (This we never admit to mamma, for fear of their banishment to the woodshed.) If the persons who are otherwise fastidiously nice would be as proportionately particular to keep their faces clean we should see more of the fair, glowing complexions, and less of the yellow, faded skins, with sallow lines about the neck. There is nothing that so beautifies the face as its freshness and cleanliness from the frequent use of water, with gentle friction.- There is more truth than poetry in the stale observation of persons looking two or three shades whiter after their ablutions.

The face is fairer after washing, because it is cleaner, and when it is not often bathed it is badly soiled. That the face be thoroughly washed at night, with a little fine soap to remove any greasy substance that may have settled in the eyebrows or crevices of the features, is essential for their perfect cleanliness. The eyes require particular washing to preserve their beauty and strength of sight. How few persons consider this when they wipe them over once a day with a wash rag or sponge! “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Moses’ face “shone” when he descended from the mount where he had been talking with God. If ours do not shine with a holy light, they may with a glowing freshness from the frequent use of cold water.

Yes, this story does read like an advertisement. Like you I was expecting an image of the item at the end of the story. As you can see there was no image. In the comments let us know what is being sold?

See the advertisement of what is being sold at .

“Soiled Faces.,” Buchanan County Bulletin (Independence, Iowa), 16 May 1873; digital image, Chronicling America ( : accessed 29 November 2019); citing State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines, Iowa, p. 1, col. 3.

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