The history of cosmetics – unwrapped

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

‘Removes blotches,’ ‘clears the complexion,’ ‘removes freckles, pimples, and all spots.’

Turn on your TV or open a magazine and you might see these words advertising the latest beauty product, but in fact they come from the Roman writer Pliny the Elder’s description of a substance called crocodilea – the dung or intestinal contents of a crocodile.

As well as its uses in skincare it was recommended as an eye salve, taken internally for epilepsy, and as a pessary for stimulating menstrual flow.

Partnerships
In 2016 the RPS Museum became a partner in a research project on ancient skincare, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Science in Culture strand. Now, as the study reaches its conclusion, the team – including researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow and Keele – are going to showcase some of the findings in a series of events at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on 15th and 16th  February. Read more The history of cosmetics – unwrapped

Behind the scenes: BBC filming ‘Addicted to pleasure’ at the RPS Museum

By John Betts, RPS Museum Officer

Earlier this year a BBC production team spent 2 days filming our current controlled drugs display at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum, for the ‘Addicted to Pleasure’ series. Read more Behind the scenes: BBC filming ‘Addicted to pleasure’ at the RPS Museum

The fascinating relationship between pharmacy and smoking

By John Betts, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum Officer

Given the scientific knowledge we now have about the harmful effects of smoking on health it seems unbelievable that in the past medical professionals viewed smoking as an effective and legitimate medicinal treatment. One of my father’s aunts, who regularly suffered from coughs and sore throats, was told by her doctor in the 1930s to take up smoking to toughen up her throat!

The fascinating, and at times contradictory, relationship between pharmacy and smoking inspired me to curate new Developing Treatments exhibition ‘Going Up in Smoke’ – Smoking and Pharmacy. Read more The fascinating relationship between pharmacy and smoking