Venetian ceruse

Venetian Ceruse, also known as Spirits of Saturn, was a 16th-century cosmetic used as a skin whitener. It was in great demand and considered the best available at that time.

The cosmetic's use of white lead as a pigment caused lead poisoning, damaging the skin and causing hair loss. Usage over an extended period could cause death.

People thought to have worn it

Elizabeth I of England is popularly imagined to have been a notable user, although critics Anna Riehl and Kate Maltby have argued that little historical evidence exists to support this claim.[1][2][3]

Ceruse caused the death of Maria Coventry, Countess of Coventry, aged 27, in 1760. Ceruse caused blemishes, upon which she applied more of the substance, causing even more blemishes. Eventually she died of lead poisoning.

See also


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