These days, lead can be found in cosmetics only in trace amounts so tiny they won’t pose a risk to our health. But our ancestors didn’t hesitate to use lead as the main ingredient for their lotions and potions in an attempt to get white, porcelain skin. Back then, pale skin was a status symbol, and lots of women thought it worth the risk of dying prematurely.
Shocking, isn’t it? And you haven’t heard what else was in that lead powder yet: horse manure. Ewww!
Here’s a recipe for a lead powder:
– several thin plates of lead
– a big pot of vinegar
– a bed of horse manure
– perfume & tinting agent
Steep the lead in the pot of vinegar, and rest it in a bed of manure for at least three weeks. When the lead finally softens to the point where it can pounded into a flaky white powder (chemical reaction between vinegar and lead causes lead to turn white), grind to a fine powder. Mix with water, and let dry in the sun. After the powder is dry, mix with the appropriate amount of perfume and tinting dye.
The things women would do in the name of beauty, eh? Would you have done it too? Frankly, there’s no way I ever would have. It’s bad enough to use poisonous lead, but with horse manure too… no thank you!!
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