Raison d’être, a French phrase, from d’être which literally translates into your reason for existence. It is your soul’s essence, an intangible force, which dictates your being. It is the reason we commit ourselves to survival and endure life…
Image, Mario Testino, US Vogue
Delving into the beauty world with my new job has drawn me to a fascination with historic beauty products, and imagine my delight when this Wit came across a deliciously strange article called 8 Fascinating French Beauty Fads. #3 of the 8 fascinations had me spell-bound.
In 1932, Dr. Alfred Curie launched a Tho-Radia line of beauty products that were made from, you guessed it, radio-active materials such as thorium chloride and radium bromide. Thorium is a radio-active chemical element named after the God of thunder, Thor, and has been experimented with as an alternate source for nuclear power plants. Pure thorium is a silvery-white metal that maintains a lovely luster for a long time…which was no doubt why Alfie injected it into his cream, cleansing milk, face powder, lipstick, and even toothpaste (the thought makes me cringe…).
Radium Bromide is a bromide salt discovered in 1898 by Pierre and Marie Curie, who curiously are no relation to our French doctor Alfie. This salt form of radium keeps the chemical from turning black and made the radium easier to work with, though it was highly radio-active and so dangerous in that it could explode under certain conditions.
So, was Tho-Radia guaranteed to make you glow?
Tho-Radia promised lighter and brighter skin. The ads featured a glowing (no pun intended) woman who taunts, “Stay old if you want.”
Or, uh, what?…die trying?
For more interesting French beauty fads of the past, some literally worth dying for, check out People, Places and Bling, for a most interesting, and a bit creepy, article.