9 Phenomenally Stupid (And Fatal) Beauty Trends From Victorian England 

Amanda Sedlak-Hevener
January 20, 2017 144.7k views 9 items

The Victorian Era lasted throughout most of the 1800s. This period of time was known for its technological advancements and for its increased social mobility. And with that came new beauty trends that spread from Britain to the United States by word of mouth and publications aimed at women - some beauty trends that would never happen in today's world.

Not all of these trends were good - many of them had deadly consequences. Some deadly Victorian beauty trends included the use of what we now know are poisonous compounds that women placed on their eyes and skin. These deadly Victorian beauty fads did not stop at makeup, even clothing created hazardous conditions. Until the Victorian era ended and new trends took over, women subjected themselves to these dangers every day - all to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. 

Tuberculosis Beauty Was The Newest Fad
Tuberculosis Beauty Was ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 9 Phenomenally Stupid (And Fatal) Beauty Trends From Victorian England
Photo: Jules David/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Tuberculosis, a fatal disease during the Victorian Era, causes nodules to grow in the lungs. Eventually, these nodules affected breathing to the point that the patient died. However, during the Victorian age, women appreciated the beauty that tuberculosis caused - the pale skin, thin waist, and red lips and cheeks of those infected. This quickly became a trend that led to women purposely contracting the disease in order to look beautiful. 

Women Bathed In Arsenic
Women Bathed In Arsenic ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 9 Phenomenally Stupid (And Fatal) Beauty Trends From Victorian England
Photo: Lady Mary Anne Broome/Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

Arsenic, which we now know is a dangerous poison, caused a woman's skin to become very pale. This was the beauty ideal, as upper class women didn't need to go outside and work in the garden - they had servants to do that for them. In order to make all of their skin extremely pale, women would go (under a parasol to prevent the sun's rays from hitting them, of course) to special spas that had arsenic spring baths

Facial Makeup Contained Lead And Radium
Facial Makeup Contained ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 9 Phenomenally Stupid (And Fatal) Beauty Trends From Victorian England
Photo: Unknown/ Public Domain,/Wikimedia Commons

The ideal upper class Victorian woman had facial skin that was unblemished and as white as possible. If their skin was imperfect, they applying lotions, face paints, and even powders. The only problem was this makeup contained things like lead and radium. Of course, they didn't realize lead could cause severe poisoning when leached into the skin, or that radium was radioactive. 

Lip Paints Were Made Of A Carmine And Ammonia Blend
Lip Paints Were Made Of ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 9 Phenomenally Stupid (And Fatal) Beauty Trends From Victorian England
Photo: Bazar of Fashions /Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Red lips were a hugely popular beauty trend during the Victorian Era. Before commercialized lipstick became common, women had to either make the lipstick compound themselves, or purchase lip paint from their local pharmacy or general store. The main dye used to make red lip paint was composed of carmine from the crushed bodies of cochineal insects. The pigments weren't deadly on their own, although some did cause allergic reactions. What really made lip paints poisonous was the ammonia mixed into them when the insects were boiled and crushed.