However, even today there are significant serious side-effects and potential dangers from cosmetic procedures, in particular.For example, it was recently reported that cosmetic injections, such as platelet-rich plasma injections and facial fillers, are leading to a significant number of patients suffering from chronic, and potentially disfiguring, bacterial infections.
In her book, Matthews David tells how she bought a vintage container of the American face powder “Tetlow’s Swan Down” that dates from the 1870s.
It had been marketed as harmless and claimed to use whitening zinc oxide powder to replace once common toxic products such as lead, arsenic and bismuth.
“Celebrated American skin specialist” Anna Ruppert (Shelton) provides a ready example of the spurious nature of some cosmetic advertising and the reality of dangerous tonics marketed as “natural” and therefore healthful in this era.
Throughout 18, numerous advertisements appeared in British women’s magazines, including high-quality publications such as The Queen, for lectures to be held in London by a purported American beauty expert.
While these kinds of non-invasive procedures are common, with over $1 billion spent annually on cosmetic jabs in Australia alone, research suggests that almost one-fifth of patients could suffer from such complications.
Of course, even when the greatest medical care is taken, there are still potential questions about the health risks of utilising Botox (Botulinum Toxin Type A) to combat or stave off facial wrinkles.Warnings such as this one indicate that the harmful effects of certain cosmetic products were well known.Another manual, Beauty: How to Get it and How to Keep It, from 1885 advised readers to avoid hair dyes because they “are sometimes injurious to the health; those that contain lead or mercury are especially so, and have been known to cause serious illness.” This fear of harmful dyes is reflected in the many magazine advertisements of the period for “hair restorers” that promise to return grey hair to its original shade without the use of “dyes”.In her book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, Alison Matthews David explains that lead was a popular ingredient in cosmetics for centuries “because it made colours even and opaque and created a desirable ‘whiteness’ that bespoke both freedom from hard outdoor labour and racial purity”.In the 1860s, the American face lotion Laird’s “Bloom of Youth or liquid pearl” promised to whiten skin, helping “ladies afflicted with tan, freckles, Rough or Discolored Skin”.While a large number of people, primarily women, have embraced Botox and believe it to be safe), in 2009 the US Food and Drug Administration added a warning noting that Botox “may spread from the area of injection to produce symptoms of botulism”, such as muscle weakness and breathing difficulty.Even the most common beauty products still have potential risks associated with them.An FDA test of 400 lipsticks conducted in 2011 found that every one contained lead.Nevertheless, the FDA advises that up to 10 parts per million of lead is an acceptable level.The ads mentioned Ruppert’s book on “natural beauty”, as well as promoting various products including a skin tonic.Her signature tonic was originally marketed as “Face Bleach” in the United States, tapping into the demand for lighter skin not only from white women, but also African American women.