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World’s oldest skin whitening make-up found in China was used more than 2,700 years ago

The world’s oldest skin-brightening makeup – which was filled with LEAD – was used in China more than 2,700 years ago, 300 years before the Romans adopted the same technique

  • Six containers made of bronze were discovered in an ancient Chinese grave
  • The tomb dates from more than 2,700 years ago and belongs to a nobleman
  • The containers contained remnants of old lead-white make-up
  • According to researchers, this is the earliest form of the cosmetic
  • It was used to whiten the skin, which was seen as a high status

The world’s oldest lead-white makeup has been found in a tomb of an elite individual who lived in China more than 2,700 years ago, suggesting that the ancient people of this area nearly 300 years before the ancient Romans took over the practice, making cosmetics for used skin whitening.

White remains were found in six bronze containers buried in a grave found in a noble cemetery in northern China that belonged to a patrician who lived in the early spring and autumn period (770 BC to 476 BC). .).

Experts have long believed that the ancient Romans paved the way for the skin whitening technique, research suggests they started using it around 500 BC, but the discovery suggests it was actually the ancient Chinese who first pioneered the technique.

Archaeologists from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) also note that the residue could be much older than the grave.

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Lead-white makeup was found in an ancient Chinese tomb dating back more than 2,700 years.  This suggests that the cosmetic was used long before it was adopted by the ancient Romans

Lead-white makeup was found in an ancient Chinese tomb dating back more than 2,700 years. This suggests that the cosmetic was used long before it was adopted by the ancient Romans

White lead makeup was also adopted by the elites of Europe in the 17th century, who combined poisonous lead with vinegar.

However, there was a price for this so-called beauty – it caused serious health problems for those who wore it religiously.

Using this as a pigment caused lead poisoning, skin damage and sometimes even death.

But white-colored skin was considered high status and is featured in many ancient Chinese artworks.

The makeup was found in six bronze containers (above) that were buried in a tomb of a nobleman who lived some 2,700 years ago

The makeup was found in six bronze containers (above) that were buried in a tomb of a nobleman who lived some 2,700 years ago

Archaeologists from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) also note that the residue may be much older than the grave

Archaeologists from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) also note that the residue may be much older than the grave

After the UCAS team analyzed the white residue, they found that it was pure cerussite, a mineral composed of lead carbonate and an important lead ore.

Cerussite is also toxic to the human body.

“Although the age of the lead carbonates is not exactly within the date of burial of the grave, it still reveals the synthetic origin of ancient samples because natural cerussite was observed to have a significantly greater offset,” researchers shared in the study published in the Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The team also identified phosgenite, from lead chlorocarbonate, in the powder suggesting the residue was made by mixing the two — resulting in synthesized makeup.

Not only royalty and aristocrats wore the poisonous makeup, but samurai warriors in Japan also used the technique – and it was harmful to their descendants.

After the UCAS team analyzed the white residue, they found that it was pure cerussite, a mineral composed of lead carbonate and an important lead ore.

After the UCAS team analyzed the white residue, they found that it was pure cerussite, a mineral composed of lead carbonate and an important lead ore.

A 2012 study found that samurai-class children suffered from severe lead poisoning because of the cosmetics used by their mothers and grew up deformed, handicapped and retarded.

These handicaps left them unable to cope with political crises, leading to instability that led to the eventual demise of their feudal system, the study claims.

Tamiji Nakashima of Japan’s University of Occupational and Environmental Health studied the bones of samurai children and adults to determine their cause of death.

Based on chemical and X-ray analyses, the bones of the children in the study contained tens of times more lead than both the male and female adults, the researchers told the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Those under three were the worst off, with a median level of 1,241 micrograms of lead per gram of bone — more than 120 times the level thought to cause neurological and behavioral problems.

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