18th Century was an era of pale faces, heavily rouged cheeks, big hair and beauty marks for Europeans aristocracies. The changes of pre-present day life perpetually incurred significant deterioration on the wellbeing and appearance of eighteenth century Europeans; their countenances were regularly filled with smallpox scars, their teeth rotting, their gums collapsed from lost teeth, and their stride uneven from youth rickets. The one way for both men and women would hide the defects were to wear a thick white paste on their face to cover any imperfections, which often involved using highly toxic cosmetics. Snowy temples and bosoms, jet black thin brows, blood red lips and brilliantly intense red cheeks. What exactly did the men and women achieve the most desirable look of that century?
For centuries, the palest white is more than just a makeup or a coverup of their smallpox scar. Instead, the pale white makeup was all about status; it suggested wealth and absence of hard labor compared to commoners who worked the fields and get sunburn. This became even more pronounced in the 17th and 18th when trendy men and women progressively depended on it as a fashion trend into making their complexion much more pale and whiter. How did they achieve this? It could be achieved by using one of the many face creams and washes available in their market which promises to whiten and bleach the skin. One advertisement made for a chemical wash promised its consumer that it’ll get rid of all deformities, such as ringworm, morphew, sunburn, scurf, pimples, pits or redness of the smallpox, while giving the skin a lasting and extreme whiteness; or bright and fair is the word we use in this 21st century.
As we can see, bright and fair complexion has been a craze for centuries but more on personal preferences and not because of status. Men and women now lean towards sunscreen to protect their skin to avoid being sunburn, maintain skin youthfulness and delay skin aging, and to protect from the harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation that can lead to cancer. Moreover there are tons of skin care and cosmetics companies that came out with whitening and brightening face wash, face creams and face oils that helps can help heal facial scars; such as pimples, chickenpox or scratches, some are also marketed as anti-aging creams or serums containing retinol. Retinol is a the active ingredient in anti-aging product which is a vitamin A compound, the first antioxidant to be widely used in non-prescription wrinkle creams. Antioxidants are substances that neutralizes free radicals because unstable oxygen causes molecules to break down skin case and causes wrinkles. As our time advances, more and more products made are less harmful and made safe. It actually heals and maintains the health of our skin. If the skin is naturally beautiful because of consistent skin care regime, there will be no need for a thick white makeup paste made from lead, right?
Lead? Yes, the main ingredient of the infamous heavy white foundation that all European aristocracy are so fond of is lead. The lead mixture are slathered all over the face, bosom and in order to heighten the effect, more like contouring in our days if you will, ladies painted blue veins on their bosom to make their skin appear paler than their normal skin colour. The more harmless ingredients in the preparation of these white makeup includes rice powder, vinegar, hartsthorn, gum Arabic, and bismuth subnitrate which is still being used in modern paints. Nevertheless, the most popular facial cosmetics had lead in them due to its desirable opaque qualities. An example recipe for the white face paint in those days are as follows (but please do not attempt it and use this product because it is highly damaging and corrosive to the face);
Steep the lead in the pot of vinegar, and rest it in a bed of [horse] manure for at least three weeks. When the lead finally softens to the point where it can be 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.
Of course, this was a highly poisonous to the wearer over time. Lead poisoning can happen if a person is exposed to very high levels of lead over a short period of time. When this happens, a person may feel:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Memory loss
- Pain or tingling in the hands and/or feet
People with prolonged exposure to lead may also be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility, and even death. Several of English socialites life were taken due to lead poisoning, one of them being Maria, Countess of Coventry, who died of blood-poisoning in 1760 during her late 20s. Even though the dangers of lead is well known, interesting enough, people will still be using it.
Thankfully in this 21st century, more and more products are made using natural and are plant based. An example of a powerful product from Shaklee is the Youth Age Defence Moisturizer with SPF 50 broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, not only it protects the skin from the harmful UV sun ray, the vitamins and nourishing botanicals moisturises the skin and improve the overall appearance of skin tone. Another one of Youth’s powerful product is the Radiance C+E with a patented dose of 20% pure vitamin C and vitamin E plus raspberry cell extract to plump, brighten, and visibly reduce the appearance of scars, lines and wrinkles. It also reduces the appearance of age spots, smoothens the skin, and like the Age Defence Moisturizer, it also improves overall skin tone.
The Shaklee Youth range does not stop at sunscreen and beauty serum, their other products include gel oil cleanser, perfecting toner, eye treatment, serum and an advanced night cream! If you want to get started on your Youth journey, erasing traces of aging, contact Mommy J and you’ll be well informed of each product and its benefits, as well as a great deal!
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