As part of InStyle’s history issue, we’re holding our beauty blenders up to the annals of time to examine the skincare routine of Founding Father George Washington. Your history teacher probably glossed over the fact that Georgie was known from sea-to-shining-sea for his luminous skin and microscopic pores. Keep in mind, this was several years before the popularity of electricity or Vogue’s Youtube channel.
- Wash twice per day
We get our first glance into the glitzy world of Mr. Washington’s skincare routine during a 1792 feature in Colonial Women’s Weekly. The First Baddie of Beauty was intercepted after he gave a speech on economic development in the colonies to shed light on just how much work went into maintaining such a flawless complexion while wearing a 7-pound wig and four layers of crushed velvet robes in 100-degree weather.
For some reason, Mr. Washington did not want to discuss his skincare routine and instead diverted the conversation to land credits for farmers planting alfalfa. So humble. However, he did toss a wink in the reporter’s direction, which was enough material for an 18-page spread. Historians later surmised that the wink was just Mr. Washington blinking because of the frankly disturbing amount of powder that caked his face.
But! During his speech, Mr. Washington remarked that it was “best to wash twice per day.” We took this to mean his face, which would explain our first president’s hydrated glow. It was later discovered that Mr. Washington actually said “twice per year,” and was talking about how often to bathe pigs. Still good advice!
- Thoroughly moisturize
Perhaps the most crucial component of Georgie’s skin regimen was his obsession with staying moisturized, which helped him look quite young at the ripe old age of 35. Thirty-five might sound young, but remember that this was so long ago Coco Chanel wasn’t even a Nazi yet.
Mr. Washington was notorious for taking a large jug of lard with him on the road campaigning. In addition to being a moisturizer, lard was often used to treat acne and Hep C. It didn’t work for either. Nevertheless! George Washington was well-known in our nation’s capital for having very soft hands. This posed a problem, however, when signing the Declaration of Independence. It’s a little known fact that the only reason John Hancock’s signature was so big was because he was trying to cover the grease stain Washington had left behind.
- Know your skin
Mr. Washington always stressed the importance of knowing your skin. Whether it reacts well to heat or cold, breaks down when attacked, and how long it should be baked for. Actually, those are all comments Mr. Washington made when referring to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Except for the last one, that’s about bread. Still, it’s important to know what products work well on your skin, and that even Charlotte Tillbury setting powder won’t cover up smallpox scars.
- The British
The British make you break out. Avoid at all costs.
- Keep it simple
At the end of the day, it’s just skin. It might feel like the end of the world if you wake up with a pimple, but you have bigger things to worry about. Things like governing a newly-independent nation and the apparent moral issue of slavery. (Remember, it’s 1792). So keep things simple! As Washington always said to the Senate, “just be yourself, everyone else is taken hostage.”
Whatever you do, just be sure to avoid using products with parabens. This is just some friendly advice from us, not Mr. Washington. They hadn’t invented parabens in 1792 because they were still shitting in buckets.
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Bobbie Armstrong is a former child, current writer and student. Her work has appeared on McSweeney’s, Slackjaw, Belladonna Comedy, Little Old Lady, and her parents’ fridge. Follow her existential crisis @bobbien_