Rough diplomacy – Aqua Tofana

Audio: Medium

Have you ever thought, leaving aside the history of makeup, what other weapon could it become, other than stealing men’s hearts? Well, for those of you who didn’t know, I would like to tell you about a period of history in which makeup was used as an escape from a dysfunctional marriage in the 17th century. Stay close and ”watch” how inventive the women of that period had to be to escape from the hands of those who could have become their executioners.

While the conspiracy theories surrounding the Aqua Tofana may never be proven, it is clear that the poison had a significant impact on the makeup industry. The use of makeup products as a disguise for poison led to increased scrutiny of the ingredients used in cosmetics. Today, makeup products are subject to strict regulation to ensure that they are safe for use.

The Aqua Tofana is a deadly poison that was used in the 17th century by women to murder their husbands. The poison was often disguised as a makeup product, making it easy for women to administer it without arousing suspicion. The Aqua Tofana is a fascinating topic that lies at the intersection of makeup and conspiracy.

It was created by a woman named Giulia Tofana, who lived in Italy during the 17th century. She was a skilled apothecary who created a poison that was basicaly undetectable. The poison was made from a mixture of arsenic, lead, and belladonna, which made it tasteless and odorless.

During this period, women were forced by their families to enter into different marriages, either to keep the family’s wealth or to have a name and automatic respect in society. Once these women were married, they no longer had any power or a say. And history has shown us that men had control and a voice over their wives, and they were usually very violent with them. “Divorce” didn’t even come into the discussion, most of them didn’t even think about it. The women had to dress up, look good and be wives. That much. Unappealable.

Aqua Tofana was the name given to a clear harmless looking liquid, a small four to six drops were ”sufficient to destroy a man”. In the beginning, Giulia disguised this poison as powder makeup, easy to fit on the women’s makeup table without a trace of suspicion. The most inspired disguise was in small vials under the name of Manna of Saint Nicholas of Bari, a kind of divine oil.
Women would apply the poison to their husband’s food or drink, and the poison would slowly kill them over a period of days or weeks.

The symptoms created by this poison were similar to those of a stronger cold, and so it could go undetected. At the same time, the men were writing their wills, which was a bonus in addition to the peace these women got once they became widows.
Giulia sold these products only through recommendations from trusted people, under the condition that she seriously risks her life out of sympathy for these mistreated women.

In order to be able to carry on this business for almost 50 years, the clientele had to be chosen very well, and this clientele was very protective of Giulia and not just because she sold the products that these women needed, as in the case of knowing the secret Giulia, the entire list of clients falls with her.

To avoid suspicions after the death of their husbands, Giulia teaches her clients what attitude to have and especially to argue an autopsy of the husband, which anyway led nowhere but they proved their “innocence” to the authorities and society.
Over time, Giulia decided to put labels on each product with the steps to be followed in the use of “cosmetic” products in order to dispel even the smallest trace of doubt.

The Aqua Tofana became so popular that it was eventually discovered by the authorities, who arrested Giulia and her accomplices. Giulia was executed for her crimes, and the use of the Aqua Tofana as a murder weapon came to an end.

In conclusion, the Aqua Tofana is a fascinating topic that lies at the intersection of makeup and conspiracy. While the use of the Aqua Tofana as a murder weapon is a dark chapter in history, it has also had a lasting impact on the makeup industry. The story of the Aqua Tofana serves as a reminder of the dangers of unchecked power and the importance of regulating potentially harmful products.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions down below about Giulia Tofana’s story, and how makeup can cover more than just skin. Till then, I invite you to have a look on other articles about makeup and history that you might enjoy.


Sources: Wikipedia, Baley Sarian (youtube). Photo sources: Google & Pinterest

One response to “Rough diplomacy – Aqua Tofana”

  1. This would have made a great Valentine’s Day article…LOL

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: