Dangerous Beauty! Part 2


Aaaand we’re back with another Dangerous Beauty post, showing you worldwide examples from yesterday and today. Trust me when I say I have a good-sized list written down with products.

Today it’s all about the complex, the gross and the heart-stopping.


Moth and Freckle Lotion
Used in/for: For pigmentation – face lotion freckles and moth patches (liver/age spots, sometimes melasmas)
Era: Mid 1800s – early 1900s.

Freckles? GONE.
Age spots? GONE.
Melasma? GONE.
Skin? GONE.

It’s all about the white, flawless skin, baby. You have a bit of money to spend and you don’t want to be associated in any way with being a workers (i.e. the poor). Workers have blemishes. And you are a hot little thing.

Enter moth and freckle lotion. Hell yeah, girl, you will kiss those blemishes goodbye, with the help of the active ingredient “corrosive sublimate”, oooooh, so sciencey!

So guess what that is?

Mercury! “Mercuric chloride”, to be specific.

An accumulative poison with corrosive properties which causes internal damage including kidney failure. Kidneys are out and corrosion is in – kind of literally!

Side effects when in contact with the skin are:

  • Burning sensations
  • Open wounds and bleeding
  • Tremors
  • Mouth/dental issues, including lesions
  • Excessive drooling and a metallic taste
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Corrosion to the mucous membranes

So instead of removing a brown spot, the mercury was eating away at the tissues as it was absorbed into the skin, and if the skin was broken, hoo boy-

Excerpt from Cosmetics as Drugs: A Review of Some of the Reported Harmful Effects of the Ordinary Constituents of Widely Used Cosmetics.

In the early 1900s, the danger of these removers was becoming apparent, as you can see from the above example from Public Health Reports (1896-1970), published in 1915, then this one from the California State Journal of Medicine in 1916.
Soon afterwards, mercury was phased out, while “freckle and moth” lotions just changed wording and continue on today.
Although the effects of colonialism, racism and colourism, unobtainable beauty standards, questionable ingredients and quantities are still a parasite to this day, we don’t have to worry about mercury! Hm… nevermind.


Actual piss
Other names: Urine, “urine therapy
Used in/for: So many goddamn things but in this instance, mouthwash.
Era: Way too long, specifically the time of Ancient Rome (differing time but at least the early ADs) – 17/1800s, predominantly.
Because of time and not making a whole essay, we’re looking at the urine beauty practices in the British Isles and Europe, in particular southern European countries, but urine as mouthwash was documented in China and other countries around the world.

In what might be a first in writing up these articles, I’ve had to research this and try not to throw up, so you’re going to continue fucking read this.

When aliens allow us to finally see them, we will have to confess all the times we’ve used our own 99% useless bodily fluids, how some of us do it for fun, and they will rightfully exterminate us.

Sigh.. so.. urine as a beauty product. Yep, it happens, but we’re going to look at where it started.
While Ancient Rome is usually cited as the first trendsetters, it seems that the Greeks were the ones in southern Europe first using urine as a mouthwash. Whether they just said that to take the piss and Rome actually went with it, I- look I just set up this for the pun.
Both animal and human urine was used thanks to communal toilets and jars left out on street corners for everyone to donate to, but the good stuff? That came from Portugal, where the urine was apparently more… ‘potent’.

So, why pee?


We still use ammonia today in cleaning, and it’s ammonia’s cleaning and bleaching abilities that claimed to help with not only oral health, but also to keep teeth bright. You were your own mouthwash maker. How wonderful.

The Pee Train started drying up in popularity once Anton van Leeuwenhoek began his work on ammonia and alcohols in regard to oral bacteria in the 16-1700s and Fredrich Wöhler artificially synthesised urea in 1828 and products like what we know as the toothbrush were starting to be used more.

However thanks to pseudoscience and the fact anyone can make a site or a video, a more documented emergence of pee-drinking is making it’s way known. Oh yay.

Surely, such a golden elixir wouldn’t have any side effects? Risks?

  • Dehydration and increased thirst.
  • Decreased urine output and and possible kidney issues that come with that.
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Infections

Okay I’m very interested in finishing this part and never speaking of it again. Deal? Excellent.


Other names: spritz, hair lacquer.
Used in/for: You know what it’s used for.
Era: 1920s – present.

Between exploding, huffing/inhaling, drinking, and being shoved up the vagine, you can also spray it in your hair.
Okay so we all know what hairspray is and that it was an ozone layer depleter because of CFCs, otherwise known as chlorofluorocarbons, something that was phased out then banned in 1996 (although it was revealed last year that China is still emitting CFC-11)… it’s still a dangerous little misty boi too.
Now just because CFCs aren’t an issue, it doesn’t mean these aerosols are completely earth and human-loving. Volatile organic compounds – VOCs – “contribute to ground-level ozone levels, a key component of asthma-inducing smog“.. so that’s fun.

Aside from the known fire hazard issue, it’s also an eye and lung irritant – with possible damage to both – with a link between hairdressers having reduced lung function and using bleach powders and hairspray. Then there’s endocrine disruption, it just being poisonous (of course, if used incorrectly), having it’s own fun bacteria (with no new word on if it poses any danger to humans!) and for expectant mothers, a  link between phthalates in hairspray and hypospadias, a genital defect in boys.

Yeah, I was surprised too when I first started looking at hairspray, but as long as you use it in small quantities sometimes in a ventilated area, aren’t pregnant and store it in a cool, dry place, with no underlying issues that would make you have a reaction, I think you’ll be peachy.

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