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Women, and probably men, have been using remedies to lighten their skin for centuries.

In her book, Face Paint: The Story of Makeup, Lisa Eldridge says that remains of the lead used to whiten skin were found in upper-class women’s graves in Ancient Greece, and that in Tang Dynasty China, lead pigments were used in cosmetics. White lead is of course the basis of the mixture, known as “Venetian ceruse”, that England’s Queen Elizabeth I used to create her characteristic white mask. The toxic concoction, known to cause hair loss, is thought to have contributed to her death at 69.  ..

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