Poucher's perfumes, cosmetics and soaps by William Arthur Poucher; Hilda Butler

By William Arthur Poucher; Hilda Butler

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There the villagers would still rather squat by a tub of water or a tap and pour water over themselves. Oil baths perfumed with sandal wood and floral extracts since ancient times were considered to be a skin tonic, and physically and mentally refreshing. Steam baths were popular where the bather sits beside the tub of boiling water into which neam leaves have been thrown, under an all-enveloping blanket [H]. It was the Romans, however, who developed bathing to such an extent that baths in public buildings became like modern social clubs.

The cavity left in the body was washed with palm wine, and spices stuffed with a temporary packing material, and the body placed in natron for up to 40 days, after which it was washed in the waters of the Nile to purify it. The cranium was stuffed with resinsoaked linen and the body cavity was repacked with linen bags containing myrrh and soaked in resin, then the abdominal incision was sewn up. The surface of the body was rubbed with a mixture of cedar oil, wax, natron and gum, and then dusted with spices.

Poucher contributed greatly to the development of cosmetic science, which includes perfumery and soap. As a result of his career in perfumery and cosmetics, in 1952 he became the first Honorary Member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Great Britain (now the Society of Cosmetic Scientists) and in 1954 the US Society of Cosmetic Chemists awarded him their Medal for 'his outstanding contribution to the art and science of Cosmetics' (the first perfumer and the first person outside the USA to receive the honour).

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