Did white lead make-up enhance beauty at a deadly cost?
Meet the Team
I'm a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University and I have been studying the effects of lead on people's health for thirty years. I very much enjoy physics because it gives me so many tools and techniques to solve scientific puzzles. In addition to enjoying physics, I am fascinated by poisons, love make-up and really enjoy reading history, so a project investigating the toxicity and light reflecting properties of 18th century make-up is a perfect fit for me! This is a such a fun project where I get to work with a great team of people. I look forward to going to work every morning because I am so excited about what we might find out!
I’m in my fourth and final year in the physics concentration of the Integrated Science program at McMaster University. Apart from research and physics, I love reading, running, and cooking, although right now my life largely revolves around school. My favourite aspect of physics is getting to dive deep into everyday aspects of life that don’t always seem complex, and trying to discover explanations behind unknown phenomena. I have loved being involved with this project over the past few years for the unique interdisciplinary perspective it brings to an under-researched subject. This project is so interesting for its combination of historical concepts and common misconceptions surrounding lead makeup, and I can’t wait to see what we continue to discover along the way!
I’m going into my 3rd year of undergrad in Biochemistry at McMaster University. I love learning about microorganisms and diseases. Although I focus on biochemistry, I have always enjoyed physics as well and its applications to health and medicine. I like seeing how different fields of science are used together to explain complex problems. Apart from school, I love to bake and read. I find this project interesting because it uses science to give us a better perspective on the experiences of women in the past and why white lead make-up may have been used. Recreating 18th century make-up is so much fun too! Working in this lab is a great experience and I'm excited to see what we discover!
Josephine La Macchia
I am pursuing a Bachelor degree in Science, specializing in Medical and Biological Physics (Co-op) at McMaster University. Now in my final year of my undergrad, I have been exposed to amazing course work, where I have learned so much physics – my favourite courses being those that integrate radiation and medical imaging to aid in clinical applications and improve patient’s medical care. I am so passionate about physics as you can breakdown and solve almost any property of nature, and I find this to be quite beautiful. Aside from school I enjoy being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. I am very excited to be a part of this research project as it is attempting to solve historical questions though the use of science, as well as looking at the optical changes that makeup can create on the skin. This project has been extremely interesting since first hearing about it, and I am excited to personally work with this make up and see what other discoveries unfold!
I studied Medical and Biological Physics student at McMaster University and am now an MSc. Medical Biophysics candidate at the University of Toronto. I absolutely love Mac and everything it has to offer, especially their supportive and welcoming community. As for classes, my favourites are medical physics based; I love learning about anything dealing with medicine and helping others, all while applying it to my favourite branch of science! Physics has always intrigued me for its unique way of looking at both everyday systems and complex theories. This project in particular really piqued my interest as it combines my extracurricular love for makeup and history with my academic love for physics. Every aspect of this project has been interesting and surprising and I am so excited to see what else we discover!
I'm in my final year of the life sciences program here at McMaster University with a specialization in cooperative education.
I’m in the last year of my Chemistry undergrad with a minor in History at McMaster University. I am always amazed by the diversity of problems which can be solved with the assistance of Chemistry. Chemistry continues to remain relevant to real world problems while also delving into incredibly abstract phenomena. I have also had an interest in history as long as I can remember and was immediately captivated by the idea of using chemical theories and techniques to help solve a historical mystery. This project also has modern applications and may help advance our understanding of lead toxicity. I am very excited to see what we discover.
We are very happy and proud to work and study at McMaster University, one of the top 100 universities in the world. Mac (as it is affectionately known) is famous for its research impact and innovative learning. It also has a beautiful campus, which is a great place to live and learn!