Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Caring for your compacts

The internet seems slightly devoid of helpful little tips when it comes to caring for your vintage compacts, needless the same the same techniques can be applied to their contemporary relations. So I've designed this post to hopefully help somewhat [if people randomly stumble across this while googling for help] to at least give you the general gist. While its nothing hard to do, its just sometimes a bit of advice in the right techniques to use when dealing with vintage things is never a bad thing.

The first thing is regarding the buying, obviously buy what you can afford and know your market - there's some great books around and even just spending a couple of days watching items on ebay you'll learn the market, of which brands go for more, what names to look out for, which shapes are the most attractive. While its harder to do this if your buying via the internet, make sure you have, or ask for photos to allow you a good look inside, check the clasp, the hinge, look for any marking on the top or the bottom and that the mirror is still there, held in place firmly and that you can still see yourself in it - any defects, markings and wear and tear should be taken into consideration. I've often come across compacts that are being sold for £7-£10 and they have the most stabbly mirrors you have ever seen - because compacts aren't rare, its really not worth paying that price.

So when you have your compact, the next thing you want to think about is cleaning for which you will need as a rough outline;A duster, Cotton buds, Tiny, tiny amount of water, Furniture polish, Window/mirror cleaning polish and a kitchen towel

The key is to use a little of everything and to not dip or soak your compact into water. Dusters are great for getting off the surface dirt and in its own right can give the compact the basic shine it needs. Some collectors would stop at this point.

For more "embedded" dirt, I tend to use cotton buds lightly dipped in cold water. Not only does it saves the compact from being washed, but the cotton bud ends are perfect for getting in and running around the edges and little nooks.

While many sellers don't remove the powder [the original or the replacement] from the compacts, it is always wise to remove it. Like with any make up powder deteriorates over time, but alongside the hygiene considerations the ageing process that powder undergoes additionally can deteriorate the metal. The powder can be removed very carefully using a spoon/knife with a steady hand. While you might have removed all of the powder, you will find over time a light dusting upon the bottom of the trail will most often then not return, but a quick dusting is all that is required.

For a lasting shine I always finish off with a bit of furniture polish sprayed upon a duster/kitchen towel which just leaves a pretty little shine upon the casing. The same method can be applied to the use of window/mirror cleaner upon the mirror. Some people might turn against the use of the last two parts but I keep/buy compacts for my own personal interest rather then to sell them on for a profit.


  1. Great post! I'll definately be doing this on the next wet saturday afternoon we get.
    Thanks for sharing,

  2. IS that already spring cleaning ?
    hi hi

  3. Great post lovely, I wish I had some decent compact mirrors, I'd love a Victorian etched compact.