If you were a woman of means in Elizabethan England, your makeup routine probably involved a lot of white lead and vinegar. Pretty poisonous, sure. But if it's good enough for the queen!
The British royals have long driven the beauty scene in their island nation — and more recently, far beyond it. In 1949, while 19-year-old Princess Margaret was on holiday in Capri, an Italian journalist broke into her hotel room to discover, among other things, what nail polish she used (it was a French brand, Peggy Sage). Princess Diana helped put blue eyeliner on the map in the '80s, and when it was reported that her son’s wife, Kate Middleton, was a fan of Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil? The organic formula from New Zealand sold out on boots.com in a single weekend. And if you want to understand the power of Meghan Markle’s beauty choices, just ask British facialist Sarah Chapman. "[Our brand] awareness in the States has really grown because of our connection with her," says Chapman, who’s looked after Markle’s skin care since she moved to the U.K.
A royal nod is a royally big deal. Even bigger, though: the Royal Warrant, an official recognition of companies that have supplied goods or services to the Royal Households — today, that means Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh (aka Prince Philip), and the Prince of Wales (their son Charles). Score a warrant and that product’s packaging can display the royal coat of arms. "It’s immediately recognizable [to anyone in the U.K.] and seen as a mark of a product or service fit for a king or queen," explains a spokesperson for hairbrush maker Kent, holder of a warrant from nine consecutive monarchs.
The idea dates back to medieval times, when the notion of currying royal favor was something brands would joust for. No, not really. But it got heated. So the Lord Chamberlain, as head of the king’s household, formally appointed the country’s best tradespeople with the honor. Today companies can apply for a Royal Warrant after one of the Royal Households has used its wares for at least five years. The approval process could take up to a year, and brands need to reapply every five years. If the grantor dies, the company must drop the royal arms within 24 months.
Currently, out of about 800 total warrant holders, there are only 21 health and beauty companies. There’s Jermyn Street perfumer Floris, which has warrants dating back to George IV, and 230-year-old pharmacy D.R. Harris & Co., which is just a quick walk from Buckingham Palace should the queen run out of triple-milled soap. Newer additions include Molton Brown (spoiler alert if you’re a guest at Balmoral: Apparently there’s a set of Orange & Bergamot hand wash and lotion in every bathroom) and Elizabeth Arden (the queen is a fan of the brand’s Eight Hour Cream, and Diana wore its now-discontinued Beautiful Color Lash Enhancing Mascara in Ocean Blue).
Clarins was the last beauty company to score a warrant; it was granted by Elizabeth II in 2007. For her coronation in 1953, she commissioned the Paris-based company to create a shade of lipstick to match her robes; she’s now said to use its Hand and Nail Treatment Cream and Ever Matte Radiant Matifying Powder. Even the French can earn this royal honor — if they’re lucky enough to create a royal treatment.
More on royal beauty:
- Meghan Markle Wore Flowers in Her Hair for the Sweetest Reason
- Kate Middleton Just Highlighted Her Hair Again, and She’s Blonder Than Ever
- This Is the Perfume Princess Diana Wore at Her Wedding
Now watch 100 years of fake eyelashes:
Originally Appeared on Allure