Snow (vanishing cream), powder and Boroline – that was all a Bengali lady needed to look good about 50 years back or more. Here I am talking about the generation before my mom’s. In the evenings or before stepping out, these ladies would wash their face apply snow (often pronounced as sono) and powder on their face (talcum powder, not compact), tie their well-oiled hair into a bun and put a sindur bindi. They would wear an ironed Bengal cotton sari and step out looking fresh, sometimes powdered.
My mom had a kakima (I called her Choto Didun) who would follow that regime in the evenings. She would always have snow (Charmis or Ponds vanishing cream) and powder on her dressing table. I was a little kid then, not even 10, I would look at her amazed whenever she would apply snow or vanishing cream to her face. In no time her oily face, due to the hot humid weather, would look fresh and bright. That could have been the reason why snow was so popular with ladies in Bengal.
At that time snow seemed like the ultimate makeup item to me. My fashionable mom had various lotions, moisturisers and foundations but not snow. I would sometimes sneak up to Choto Didun’s dressing table, open the box of snow and smell it. I was of course to scared to apply it on my face lest I got a scolding from mom.
And Boroline was something that every Bengali household had, used generously for soft supple skin, or chapped lips and even as an antiseptic for minor injuries. Boroline was versatile. I remember every night before going to bed, mom would spend at least 10 minutes massaging Boroline to her face. She still has a glowing complexion and maybe Boroline is the secret.
Bengali women were proud of their long black and that they would oil ever so often. Jabakusum and Lakhi Bilas were two popular hair oil brands that were available in every household. I even remember my mom using these brands. For, in those days, you wouldn’t be considered fashionable if your hair weren’t oiled. I wonder if these brands exist anymore.
Boroline, of course, has survived the onslaught of time and is popular with Bongs to date. My dad still thinks Boroline is the answer to all skin problems. Whenever they visit, they get a tube of Boroline for me. I think it works well as a bedtime cream on dry winter nights!