(ORDO NEWS) — The makeup of the 18th century was deadly. Scientists figured out why the desire to remain beautiful took the lives of young women, and why the socialites of that time did not refuse whitewash even on their deathbeds.
Fashionistas of the 18th century, like modern women, loved to dress up in the best outfits, wear expensive jewelry and be sure to use cosmetics.
A white complexion was considered attractive, therefore it was customary to apply white on the skin. The main problem was that lead was used in their production, which contributed to the development of deadly diseases and significantly reduced the years of women’s lives.
Researchers who have been studying the effects of lead on women for over thirty years have concluded that women’s bodies metabolize lead differently than men’s when a person was exposed to lead as a child.
After 20 years, a woman’s blood lead level remains elevated. In addition, they become more at risk of developing hypertension, and their menopause begins much earlier. In their latest study, the scientists set out to investigate how white, which was produced in past centuries using lead, could affect a woman’s health.
Advertising modern cosmetics, manufacturers promise radiant skin. Some products are designed to reduce shine and hide imperfections. A similar effect is achieved by changing the way light is reflected from the skin.
To find out if lead white had some of these properties, a team of experts prepared several versions of white using recipes from the 16th-19th centuries. They then measured the level of light they reflected with an optical spectrometer.
All white lead tested increased the amount of light reflected by the skin. With age, the skin begins to reflect less light, so this effect is associated with youth and beauty.
An amazing discovery was that white lead can look as natural and beautiful on the skin as possible. Makeup with their use does not at all resemble the white mask that we are used to seeing on screens and the theater stage when depicting the nobility of past centuries.
The lead agent lays down on the skin in a thin layer, and copes with its task many times better than many modern tonal foundations. The increased diffuse reflectivity of white lead hides all the roughness and unevenness of the skin, and does not allow the effect of spots, which is characteristic of modern cosmetics.
Regarding the harm that lead had to health, experts concluded that the substance was absorbed through the skin in different volumes. It all depends on the form of lead. For this reason, some recipes were more toxic than others.
Scientists admit that some variants of whitewash could be used without a threat to health. There were probably the majority of them, which means that they did not massively kill the beauties of the 18th century. However, some of them led to illness, because they were poisonous due to the amount of lead that penetrated inside.
The most toxic of all the mixtures was the easiest to make. According to her formula, lead white was mixed with vinegar. It was this product that the English Queen Elizabeth I actively used. Therefore, scientists call for reconsidering the question of whether
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