Norwich author stars in BBC show exploring history of make-up

Programme Name: Makeup: A Glamorous History - TX: n/a - Episode: Makeup: A Glamorous History - gener

Lisa Eldridge, make-up artist and presenter of BBC Two documentary Make Up: A Glamorous History. - Credit: BBC/Lisa Eldridge

A Norwich author featured on BBC Two documentary Make Up: A Glamorous History, highlighting the use of radium in beauty products in the 1920s. 

Lucy Jane Santos, 43, appeared on Tuesday night's episode of the show, presented by make-up artist Lisa Eldridge.

Norwich author Lucy Jane Santos starred in BBC Two series Make Up: A Glamorous History.

Norwich author Lucy Jane Santos starred in BBC Two series Make Up: A Glamorous History. - Credit: SONEE PHOTOGRAPHY

The three-part series explores the beauty industry of bygone eras and it was the final episode titled Britain in the Roaring 20s, following shows on the Georgian and Victorian periods.

Ms Santos, whose qualifications include a Master of Research degree in Modern British History, was approached by Plimsoll Productions in April last year to take part as she is an expert on 20th century leisure, health and beauty. 

Half Lives Products

Radium make up products. - Credit: SONEE PHOTOGRAPHY

She has a particular interest in the cultural history of radioactivity and her first book Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium was released last June.  

Filming took place in London in October and Ms Santos talked with Lisa Eldridge about the use of radium in make-up in the 1920s.

At the time, it was seen as a magic bullet to prevent ageing, despite the potential side effect of radiation poisoning.

Programme Name: Makeup: A Glamorous History - TX: n/a - Episode: Make Up: A Glamorous History - ep 3

The final episode of series Make Up: A Glamorous History looked at beauty products in the 1920s. - Credit: BBC/Plimsoll Productions/Will Edwards

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Ms Santos said: "We looked at a particular brand of radium make-up I have a collection of and what it promised.

"Uranium is found in nature in abundance and is radioactive and as it decays it becomes many different things and eventually radium is extracted.

"It was wonderful to watch the show and I got lots of really nice messages afterwards." 

Lucy Jane Santos' Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium 

Lucy Jane Santos' Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium - Credit: Contributed

Radium was first discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898 and was soon used in cancer treatments, luminous paints and many beauty products.

Talking about the inspiration for the book, Ms Santos said: "I found a pot of radioactive face powder when I bought a box of cosmetics at an auction house which drew me in and I wanted to know who used this product.

"Even a beauty salon in the Royal Arcade in Norwich sold radioactive face treatments in the 1920s."

The book is available on Amazon and at Waterstones and Make Up: A Glamorous History is available now on BBC iPlayer. 


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