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They associated a pale complexion with elevated social status, viewing it as a sign of wealth and prestige. Also, a fair complexion was seen as evidence that a woman did not engage in outdoor labor, further enhancing her perceived refinement and gentility.

In the late 19th century, the bizarre trend of using arsenic to achieve a desirable complexion reached new heights with the introduction of arsenic complexion wafers by Dr. James P. Campbell. These wafers were marketed as a safe and harmless solution to common skin issues, promising to rid individuals of freckles, blackheads, pimples, and other facial imperfections. However, Dr. Campbell himself may have been nothing more than a fictional creation concocted by advertisers to promote their product.

Despite the purported safety claims, the reality was far from benign. Women who consumed these arsenic wafers or used arsenic-laced products were unknowingly poisoning themselves. Over time, the arsenic slowly took its toll on their health, leading to severe consequences.

One of the most ironic outcomes of using arsenic for skincare was the emergence of a greenish pallor on the skin, a stark contrast to the desired fair complexion. Rather than improving skin conditions, arsenic exposure often exacerbated them. Instead of achieving flawless skin, users experienced worsening hyperpigmentation and the development of keratosis, characterized by painful sores and rashes.

Despite the dire health risks associated with arsenic consumption, the allure of a perfect complexion led many individuals to disregard the potential dangers. This dark chapter in history is a stark reminder of the extremes people would go to in pursuit of beauty, even at the expense of their own well-being.

Doctors eventually realized that arsenical wallpaper, despite its vibrant appearance, posed a deadly threat to those exposed to it. The ink used in this wallpaper tended to flake off, leading to the inhalation of toxic particles by unsuspecting individuals nearby. Factors like moisture, abrasion, or heat could also release poisonous vapors from the wallpaper.

During the mid-19th century, reports of mysterious illnesses and even deaths, particularly among children and entire families, raised alarm bells in communities. However, it wasn’t until the late 1860s that doctors connected these health issues and the presence of luminous green wallpaper.

As awareness of the dangers posed by Scheele’s green wallpaper grew, especially concerning its impact on children, people began seeking safer alternatives for their homes. This shift in public perception marked a crucial turning point in using toxic materials in everyday household items.

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