Written in partnership with RMS Titanic, Inc.

If your Instagram feed looks anything like ours, it is probably post after post of beauty tutorials and makeup tricks that push the boundaries on beauty and style. If that is the case, you would feel very much in step with the First-Class ladies on board Titanic, who blended ease with elegance and color to help revolutionize what was considered acceptable in “polite society” and, in turn, helped define beauty for their era.

With no modern-day sunscreen at their disposal and a suntan signifying “working class”, the First-Class ladies on board Titanic took to their reading and writing rooms, lounge, or cabins to avoid the sun. Faces were dusted with pearl or rice powder followed by a rosy flush of rouge. Lips were lightly stained with poppy and geranium petals — a sweet nod to Edwardian class and sophistication.

Here’s how some of the debutantes of the time defined Edwardian beauty.


Born on Christmas Day, 1878, in Kensington, London, and married to Norman Leslie, the 19th Earl of Rothes in April of 1900, “The Plucky Little Countess” was fashionable, glamorous, and popular in her aristocratic society circles. She boarded Titanic as a First-Class passenger with her cousin Gladys Cherry and maid Roberta Maioni on their way to Vancouver, BC, Canada. When the ladies entered Lifeboat 8, she was assigned to the tiller to steer the boat because Able Seaman Thomas Jones said, “She had a lot to say, so I put her to steering the boat.” She was a great supporter for women’s suffrage, a philanthropist, and a nurse during World War I when she converted a wing of her home, Leslie House in Fife, Scotland into a hospital for wounded soldiers.

RMS Titanic Inc


A self-made businessman and chemist from Manchester, England, Adolphe Saalfeld was the chairman of Sparks-White & Co. Ltd. He supervised the marketing, distribution, and sales of his fine oils and concentrated perfume fragrances. He went to America aboard Titanic in search of new business opportunities and was bringing a portfolio of 65 perfume oil samples and hand-written perfume labels. His collection would have created soft, delicate floral scents of the relaxed Edwardian Era compared to today’s full-bodied, bold, and complex aromas.

RMS Titanic Inc


This was the exclusive soap provided for the First-Class passengers with its light scent of lemon balm, rose, and a hint of spice, it boasted purity and emollient properties that would counteract the effects that the salty sea breezes had on the skin. 

RMS Titanic


Established in 1677 and based in Lewes East Sussex, John Gosnell and Co. Ltd. is the United Kingdom’s oldest cosmetic manufacture. The cherry toiletries were introduced in the mid-1800s during the reign of Queen Victoria. Over a dozen of these toothpaste jars have been recovered by RMS Titanic, Inc. from Titanic’s wreck site. 

RMS Titanic Inc

Replica toothpaste jars make excellent and memorable jewelry, coin, or keepsake holders and are available for purchase at thetitanicstore.com.


In 1892, a new cold cream was introduced by V. Chapin Daggett and Clifford Ramsdell of New York, still a name brand today, to clean the skin, leaving it soft and supple and helping to reduce wrinkles. Instead of the usual vegetable oils, which can turn rancid, they substituted a white mineral oil, creating a higher quality product. This cold cream was recovered by RMS Titanic, Inc.. The container still had remnants of the cold cream which had survived over 80 years at the bottom of the ocean.

RMS Titanic Inc


Despite spending nearly nine decades on the ocean floor, the label and these vials, recovered by RMS Titanic, Inc. in 2000, emitted the scent of the oils they contained when examined during recovery. The natural oils of rose, lavender, bergamot, and other plants were to be blended into perfumes.

RMS Titanic Inc

Discover more beauty artifacts at discovertitanic.com.

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