From the 1920s through to the 1950s Atomic energy was terrifically fashionable. Radium was used in everything from beauty and cosmetics, to household cleaning products (see the photo below of the Radium hand cleaner which ‘takes off everything but the skin’ – yikes!).
So, why were people so keen to use radioactive products in every aspect of their daily lives? Radiation was meant to ‘energize’ the skin and make it more youthful (it gives a whole new meaning to having a glowing complexion doesn’t it?).
Luckily Radium was pretty expensive so only tiny amounts were generally used in these beauty products. It was still radioactive though, and still caused cancer.
One of the most first mainstream brands of radioactive beauty treatments was Tho-Radia, a French line of skin creams, cosmetics and toothpaste which contained both thorium chloride and radium bromide (hence the name).
This atomic craze continued until the late 1950s despite the successful law-suit filed by the Radium Girls who contracted radiation poisoning from painting glow-in-the-dark paint onto watch dials (they were told the paint was safe and would lick their paintbrushes to give them a fine point as well as painting their nails and teeth ‘for fun’).
By the 1950s it really was possible to have a ‘nuclear family’. Women could be more beautiful and youthful thanks to radioactive beauty treatments, their laundry could be ‘glowing’ white and even men could benefit. Having problems in the bedroom sir? Why not treat yourself to a go with The Scrotal Radiendocrinator? Immerse your scrotum in a radioactive soak and you’ll be atomic in the bedroom. Anyone fancy trying that? Nope, I didn’t think so.
No part of the body was safe from radiation treatment it would seem. You could even get Vita Radium Suppositories. I’m not sure what it was supposed to treat but I’m pretty sure it would give you something much nastier.
It’s amazing that we’ve survived so far. And we wonder why cancer has increased so enormously over the years!
Take a look at some of the astonishing radioactive products below and let me know what you think!
Image sources and copyright: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, Some rights reserved by Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist, 5:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license, 6: Some rights reserved by JoeInSouthernCA 7: Some rights reserved by pds209 8: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.