Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but damn do we do anything to come off as beautiful. This isn’t a new statement or mindblowing revelation, it’s as old as our great ancestors who would do anything to bang and pop out kids.
Bless humans, we are so, so simple. Something new or talked about swirls in the air, and we’ll try it… even if we people who are selling really don’t know what they’re giving out.
This will be the first post in the series of dangerous beauty products and practices throughout history (and sometimes, not so much history as ‘literally today’). From corneas falling out to burns to poisons to becoming radioactive, we’ll look at the secretly deadly and insane ways we’ve made ourselves beautiful.
This post is very short but next month or so I hope to have the next part out.
Other names: cinnabar, dragon’s blood, red mercury, synthetic “Sindoor”
Used in: predominantly rogue/blush, lip products and Indian beauty products and bindis
Era: Most famously in 1800s-1900s, but as far back as 8000 BC continuing today
No matter what time or where, we have always loved red in makeup. The colour of life and vitality, we’ve slapped red on our cheeks, our lips, our nails and in our hair. So when we see a gorgeous, vibrant colour like vermilion
To make it nice and confusing, vermilion/cinnabar was used as a red resin called dragon’s blood, which was safe to use.
Equally confusing is that India has sindoor, a powdered mineral used for bindis and hair partings, used as a sign of good fortune, or “saybhagya”.
It’s also mercury sulfide.
Sometimes red lead is added!
I have found conflicting notes that say sindoor was traditionally cinnabar, turmeric and lime, modern sindoor having turmeric and lime primarily with no cinnabar, and synthetic sindoor commercial-sold “are not manufactured to proper standards and may contain lead.”
I’ve also read that it’s vice versa; with traditional sindoor using only turmeric and lime primarily and vermilion/cinnabar now creeping into modern sindoor.
I’m confused and spent a migraine day trying to figure it out, so if anyone can clarify for me what’s true I would LOVE to hear from you.
The word “vermilion” is now saved for a scarlet, orange-based red shade and not used in any commercially-sound manufacturing.
The word “cinnabar” is used sometimes to “convey an exotic impression” or as a name for non-cinnabar-based red resin jewelry.
In case you haven’t noticed the “mercury” used twice, this gives you a lovely case of mercury poisoning! Enjoy damage to-
- the nervous system
- the muscular system
- the gastrointestinal tract
- in dust form, major lung issues!
- skin rashes, for a start
- and I wish I were lying, formication!
So don’t worry about it if your lipstick is named ‘Vermilion’ it won’t have actual vermilion in it but if you’re worried, look at the ingredients or find a way to contact the brand or manufacturer.
Used in: General face creams and other skin issues
Era: 2010+ (possibly earlier)
It appears that a cream to help skin conditions has lead to some unexplained fires. A BBC investigation in 2017 discovered that as far back as 2010, eczema, psoriasis and face creams with paraffin wax in them could build up in fabrics and thus, become flammable.
While the wax alone was fine, it was when victims had it ‘built-up’ in bedding or their clothing (a good example is using the same headband at night time to keep hair out of your face and the wax building up in the material) where residue wouldn’t be obvious in any way until contact with a flame such as a heater, candle or cigarette would ignite the material.
The true scale is unknown, with no actual media coverage (all the info I found on this was only from UK sites) however since this was reported, UK manufacturers have started carrying a standard warning.
Here is a link with information as well as cleaning instructions. I haven’t found any other cleaning recommendations anywhere but I think obvious recs would be if you are using anything with paraffin wax to give fabrics a wash regularly.