Home » Time Period » 1800s » Skin Whitening: Discovered!

Skin Whitening: Discovered!

bismuth oxide

Bismuth Oxide, courtesy of www.chemspider.com

It is well known that this oxide [bismuth], under the name of pearl white, is used as a cosmetic by those of the fair sex who wish to become fairer. A lady thus painted was sitting in a lecture room, where chemistry being the subject, water being impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen gas (Harrowgate water) was handed round for inspection. On smelling this liquid, the lady in question became suddenly black in the face. Every person was of course alarmed by this sudden chemical change; but the lecturer explaining the cause of the phenomenon, the lady received no farther injury, than a salutary practical lesson to rely more upon natural than artificial beauty in future.

MacKenzie’s Five Thousand Receipts, 1829

The take-away: If you’re going to use bismuth oxide, stay away from hydrogen sulfide. (Although that’s probably a good idea anyway.)

Advertisements

One thought on “Skin Whitening: Discovered!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s