Beauty Through The Ages

Blepharoplasty eyelid surgery to hide the fact that we haven’t slept well in years and re-injecting our own blood to create the infamous “vampire facial” because Kimmy K did it, so why wouldn’t we? These things all seem, well, rational to us now. But will future generations think so?

Instead of letting history repeat itself (just with different tools and ingredients), maybe we can learn a few things from past beauty rituals. 


Lead has a long and alarming history as a cosmetic ingredient (and indeed, still plagues us today). In the 18th century, women mixed it with vinegar to make ceruse (white lead) and painted it all over their face. 

Think of it like their foundation - smallpox was rampant at the time, so they needed some form of concealer! 

The queen of the white face (i.e Queen Elizabeth) died of blood poisoning, brought on by her use of a lead-based makeup. This substance was classified as a poison 31 years after Elizabeth's death. Bit late to the party, Liz.

2. Arsenic

Once lead was out of the picture, arsenic took its place as the next pale-complexion miracle product. 

Kinda reminds me of how parabens have recently fallen from grace and Preservatives have taken the throne.

We now know arsenic destroys red blood cells, which leads to pale skin so you can count on that, but did we say this eventually leads to death? Ops might need to mention that side effect somewhere in the pamphlet.

3. Mercury

Mercury was discovered in modern cosmetics. Before the days of benzoyl peroxide, mercury was used to cure blemishes. But it’s easily absorbed through the skin and can cause birth defects, kidney and liver problems, fatigue, irritability, tremors, depression, and a metallic taste in the mouth. 

Did you want to know where the phrase “Mad as a Hatter” come from?

It's linked to the hat-making industry. In the 18th and 19th centuries, hat makers used mercury nitrate, as part of the process of turning the fur of small animals, into felt for hats. 

Workplace safety didn’t exist like it did today (the Unions would have had a field day!). This prolonged exposure caused hat makers to turn Mad! 

4. Radioactive skincare

Forget about Vitamin C for making your skin radiant. Just use radiation! People went crazy for radium in the early twentieth century.

 “If placed on the face where the skin has become wrinkled or tired the radio-active forces immediately take effect on the nerves and tissues. A continuous steady current of energy flows into the skin, and before long the wrinkles have disappeared,” 

Oh, dear. We think more than wrinkles disappeared on this one!

Now let's bring on the rest of 2021 and instead of relying on bizarre but dangerous skin treatments. Let’s just stick with the non harmful skin treatments that we know work best - a good diet, lots of sleep, gallons of water and a MOTHERload of daily SPF. Skin health really is that simple. 

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