I have always been fascinated by the elegance and beauty of the Victorian era—sparing the morbid, seemingly gross (newspaper for toilet paper), or excessive. I’m especially interested in the daily routines of privileged women like Queen Victoria. What was it really like living without constant access to a screen?
So, I decided to put on some rose-colored glasses and give a Victorian-inspired morning routine a try. The main intent was to incorporate natural ingredients and antique-inspired technology, somewhat simplifying my current practice. I opted to skip the lead-heavy makeup and pinching corsets—ouch! Here’s how it went.
Wake up to the sunrise.
In the early 19th century, most people didn’t have access to modern alarm clocks. Instead, they relied on natural light to wake them up. (By the end of the Victorian era, mechanical alarm clocks became more popular.) I could have channeled my inner “early Victorian” energy by just opening my blinds and hoping for the best. However, it was winter. And with a sunrise alarm clock, you can mimic a natural sunrise.
Fortunately, I work from home on my own schedule, so I could risk sleeping through a sunrise clock at first. I started my day by gradually waking up to a sunrise alarm clock (all sounds off), which filled my room with light. I did my best not to look at my phone until I was completely out of bed—this was hard! Overall, this step was a refreshing change from the harsh beeping of my usual alarm, and it helped me wake up feeling more alert and energized. As a bonus, the added light made me forget that it was a dark winter day (something the Victorians couldn’t avoid).
Take a shower with a Victorian-inspired rain shower head.
In Queen Victoria’s time, showers were still a new concept, and shower heads were typically simple and elegant rain showers that were positioned directly in the center of the stall. Believe me, this simple swap can dramatically improve anyone’s morning.
My shower was a refreshing experience with my newly-installed antique-style rain shower head. My favorite part, aside from the relaxation, was that it mimics the classic look of a Victorian bathroom. And the gentle rainwater-esque flow was incredibly invigorating. The natural sponge I used to clean my skin was a gentle reminder of the natural methods that were prevalent in Victorian times, in many cases due to a lack of alternatives.
Brush your teeth with a natural toothpaste.
Before commercial toothpaste, people used natural ingredients like baking soda and salt to clean their teeth. Also, wealthier people like Queen Victoria used charcoal powder to keep their teeth pearly white. To step back in time, mix baking soda with a bit of water and brush with a natural bristle brush for a natural, effective clean.
I opted for a “natural” toothpaste since baking soda alone didn’t leave my mouth feeling clean (maybe I was doing it wrong?). Brushing my teeth with natural ingredients like baking soda and charcoal was a new experience, but it left my teeth almost as clean as any commercial toothpaste. I like simplifying the ingredients I use for hygiene. Still, I did notice this paste left my sensitive gums a bit irritated—so I alternate with this product and my regular toothpaste.
Apply a refreshing rosewater toner.
Sure, we have a lot of chemicals in a standard morning routine, but the Victorians loaded their face with chemicals like lead and arsenic. Fortunately, not every Victorian-era product was banned as we learned more. For example, rosewater was a typical beauty ingredient in Queen Victoria’s time, and it’s still popular today for its refreshing and hydrating properties. Apply it to your face with a cotton washcloth for a natural pick-me-up.
For me, I loved the gentle scent and how it left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I suffer from sensitive skin and rosacea, so I was surprised at how effective this seemingly harsh (witch hazel) product was able to soothe any redness. I would definitely buy this brand (that was founded in the Victorian era, by the way) again.
Have tea with breakfast.
I finished off my morning routine by making tea and having breakfast. This was an important step for Victorian women, who placed great importance on the social ritual of tea time. I enjoyed the simplicity of the food, which consisted of tea cakes (don’t judge) and blueberry jam.
And while I didn’t necessarily socialize like a Victorian, my dog certainly enjoyed my company. I have been obsessed with the pukka tea kits, and I love alternating my tea every morning. On mornings when I have more time, I’ll brew some loose-leaf tea I have in my stash.
Overall, my Victorian-inspired morning routine was a refreshing change from my usual routine. Each step had a purpose, from using natural ingredients to the vintage showerhead. It was a reminder that in a time when technology was limited, people found joy and beauty in the simple things.