11 Horrifying Ingredients In Vintage Beauty Products (And The Ones You Use Today)

People have been wearing makeup for centuries. I mean, Ancient Egyptians basically wrote the book on winged liner, am I right? Whether they were 18th-century gals looking to be pale as ghosts, or Ancient Greek ladies on a mission to slay the unibrow game, beauty has been a huge part of culture since the dawn of time.

But it’s an ironic industry. As it turns out, beauty products were chock-full of not-so-beautiful ingredients back in the day, ranging from mercury to whale vomit. Oh, and they’re not much better today.

Let’s start with some blasts from the past, shall we?

1. Lead

Trends come and go, but one that started back in Ancient Greece ended up sticking around well into the 18th century. For hundreds of years, incredibly pale skin was a sign of distinction and wealth. To achieve that creepy glow, women slathered their faces with lead-based paint.

Lead is highly toxic, which is something that the Countess of Coventry (pictured above) learned the hard way. The famous beauty died in 1760 from lead poisoning, and her demise was a prime example of the fact that “beauty must suffer.” Needless to say, it fell out of fashion after that.

2. Tar

Back in the day, mascara was as black as coal…literally. One of the main ingredients in almost every mascara brand well into the 20th century was coal tar. It has since been banned by the FDA, since thousands of women went blind because of it.

3. Bromine

This one goes way back to Ancient Egypt. Back then, women mixed chemicals like iodine and bromine mannite into their lipstick. It obviously wasn’t known by that name back then, but ladies used bromine to create lip colors with deep red and purple hues. If ingested, bromine can be deadly…which isn’t good when it’s being used in lipstick. That has “kiss of death” written all over it.

4. Mercury

An equally unsafe alternative to lead-based paint on the quest for pale skin was mercury. For years, women used mercury to permanently whiten their skin and remove freckles. The absorption of mercury through the skin can lead to severe nerve damage and death. Seems worth it, right?

5. Rat Poison

A popular hair removal cream produced in the 1930s contained high amounts of rat poison. You definitely won’t have any hair issues when you’re dead, so that works.

6. Urea

Urea, which is found in urine, was a popular ingredient in face creams up until the 1950s. Nothing says “I look awesome” quite like rubbing pee on your face.

7. Beta Carotene

Beta carotene — which is what gives carrots their signature orange hue — used to be found in tanning supplements and creams. While ingesting some beta carotene can be good for you, it’s also possible to overdose on the stuff. The FDA promptly banned the production and sale of tanning capsules containing the compound after overdoses were reported.

var OX_ads = OX_ads || []; OX_ads.push({ slot_id: “537251604_565be71c5e6a7”, auid: “537251604” });

Just in case you thought you were safe in the 21st century, let’s run through some of the harmful (and nasty) ingredients that can still be found in cosmetics today. If spending exorbitant amounts of money on lipstick and mascara didn’t make you feel bad before (I understand your pain, friends), this should do the trick.

8. Whale Vomit

That’s right, kids! Whale puke — also known as ambergris — is a common ingredient in expensive perfumes, and it has been for some time. While cheaper brands use a more economical synthetic, luxury brands still use the real stuff. That white musk is suddenly looking much less appealing…

9. Bull Semen

Getty Images

This one isn’t really harmful. It’s just painfully gross. Because bull sperm is packed with protein, hair care companies have started incorporating it into products like leave-in conditioners. Everything is awful and life isn’t fair.

10. Beetles

Love red lipstick? Sucks for you (and me)! To achieve that classic red hue, many companies incorporate crushed cochineal beetles into their formulas. Let’s just throw everything away and start over.

11. Fish Scales

Next time you slather on your newest duo-chrome nail polish, just remember that innocent fish had to die for you to slay that manicure. Many edgy nail polish shades achieve that signature sheen from the addition of crushed fish scales.

Well, that’s all pretty unfortunate. I guess companies are willing to go to ugly lengths to make us all feel pretty. Next time you’re browsing in the makeup aisle, take a look at the ingredients in your favorite products…or join me in blissful ignorance. That works, too.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/gross-beauty/