Beauty Can Be a Beast: Could Your Makeup Regime Be Putting You at Risk?

Have you ever heard of Countess Maria Coventry, once a famous beauty, popular hostess, and court favorite during the reign of King George II?  Originally known simply as a beautiful but vain woman, her claim to fame and lasting legacy is as a victim of cosmetics.

During the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the "dead white" look was fashionable for high society ladies and gentlemen. They painted and powdered their faces with a toxic mixture of vinegar and lead to have pale white skin and then layered a red rouge (also made with lead) on their cheeks for a "healthy glow". Eventually the makeup would eat away at the skin on their faces, causing massive scarring -- which they would cover up with even more makeup. It was a vicious and deadly cycle.

Countess Maria utilized heavy makeup, despite her husband's distaste for it and alarm at the effects on her skin. The Earl of Coventry once went so far as to use his handkerchief to wipe her heavy powder away at a dinner party, an act which scandalized all the ladies present. However, had she paid heed to her husband's actions, her death eight years later (at the age of 27) might not have been so early. It was the noxious effects of the lead which caused skin eruptions, infections, and eventually blood poisoning, killing Maria on September 30th, 1760.

Isn't it a relief we have come so far from those terrible days when makeup could destroy your health?

The likelihood that anyone could ever become another Countess Maria is extremely low. But to be on the safe side, do a quick inventory and check of the products you most commonly use. Go online and research brands, ingredients, and chemicals that are unfamiliar. When making new purchases, look for products and companies that ban questionable ingredients. Get rid of expired makeup -- the preservatives degrade over time and can make most products a bacterial hotbed. Not sure if it has gone bad? Use the following guidelines to avoid using expired cosmetics:

  • Liquid or Cream foundation - one year   
  • Blush/powder/shadow - two years   
  • Lipstick - one year   
  • Mascara - 3-4 months (never "pump" the brush and apply 3 or fewer coats as mascara can clog the pores at the base of your lashes and cause styes.) Dispose of all eye products after an eye infection.

Keep your face healthy and beautiful! Contact us, we want to help!