Kathryn Lindsay
December 18, 2015 9:10 am

If you think it’s a hassle to put on makeup in the morning now, then just be thankful we’re not living in the Victorian era. Turns out, while the people of the time enjoyed makeup just as much as we do, their methods and products were a liiiitle different. And by that, I mean poisonous. Atlas Obscura just revealed a lot of surprising things about the 1800’s beauty industry. 

The Victorians had two different “looks” that they often went for, and it’s similar to how we style ourselves today. The fully made-up, “painted” look was for the extremely bold, but for everyday, people used the same “no-makeup makeup” trend we have today. Surprisingly, however, that’s the dangerous one.

The no-makeup look heavily emphasized keeping the face fresh and clean, and Victorians took that to the next level. They used a chemical called “Taraxacum,” which is an old-fashioned version of a chemical face-peel. That’s not too different from practices today, but Victorians followed that up with a coating of opium. Yikes.

There were other odd, and lethal, practices as well, like using mercury as a nightly eye treatment, squeezing lemon juice in the eyes, shaping your eyebrows with road tar, and using soot as mascara. Combined, you might as well have just crawled out of a garbage heap. The garbage heap at a chemical plant.

However, we shouldn’t judge. I’m sure there are things we do now that in the future will seem crazy. It’s just important that we learn from our mistakes, and for the love of everything holy, do not put mercury on your face.

(Image via GK Films)

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