ADvent Calendar Day 21
The juxtaposition of ‘harmless’ and ‘arsenic’ is quite amusing, but the manufacturer’s assertions about the product’s safety were more believable than they might now appear. In the 1890s, the fashion for arsenic as a cosmetic led vendors to cash in on the poison’s reputation for creating a pale, wrinkle-free complexion. While people did use arsenic for this purpose (sometimes with disastrous results) the quantity in commercial pills like these was minuscule.
During the 1890s several British retail chemists were summoned to court for selling arsenic beauty soaps – but not because they were putting the public in danger. Find out the real reason in The Quack Doctor: Historical Remedies For All Your Ills. There’s still time to order it (the book, that is, not the arsenic soap) as a Christmas gift!