Colors are an essential part of our self-expression and they hold significant meanings that vary depending on the culture. But believe it or not, there are certain colors that we’re simply not allowed to use. But why, you might ask. Well, some contain bizarre ingredients while others will cause your teeth to fall out. Still in disbelief? Then take a look at these five colors that have been forbidden, for one reason or another.
If you happen to be a fan of darker colors, then vantablack will blow your mind. It’s one of the darkest colors known to man, and can absorb 99.965% of visible light. Sounds cool, right? But there’s only one problem: you can’t ever get your hands on it. That’s because the paint’s creator Anish Kapoor holds the exclusive licensing rights to use it in art. No need to fret, because the color “singularity black,” the closest alternative and there’s no licensing rights either!
2. Mummy Brown
Mummy brown isn’t some poor attempt at being creative, but rather an honest indication of the origins of a pigment that popped up during the 16th century. The paint was made from the real, crushed remains of ancient Egyptians. Very few people knew of its origins, but you can imagine their reaction when they did find out. As expected the demand for the paint plummeted, and one man even held an impromptu funeral for a mummy in his backyard. The paint finally faded from the public in 1964 as the inventor ran out of mummies to crush.
Vermillion, China red or cinnabar…doesn’t matter what you call it – the point is that it’s toxic and could kill you. That’s because it’s made by crushing cinnabar, the bright scarlet/red form of mercury sulfide. Vermillion was especially popular among ancient civilizations including the Hindus, Romans and Chinese. Even back then, the toxicity of mercury was well-known, but it took a very long time for vermillion to fall out of favor with the public. Today, there is an alternative vermillion that is created with synthetic cinnabar. Unfortunately, this one is toxic as well.
4. Lead white
If you were alive during the 4th century B.C., then lead white would be your go to choice for painting, cosmetics and even medicine. This white pigment was made by soaking lead metal in vinegar then scraping off the white powder that formed. Lead white was a favorite among many European artists thanks to its thick consistency and fast drying speed. But ever since the 1970s, there hasn’t been any lead white on the market. That’s because of the long-term and even deadly effects of lead on the body, especially the brain, kidneys and reproductive organs.
5. Radium green
Today, many people would recoil at the thought of a paint color called radium green. But we weren’t always aware of the effect of radium and that’s why it appeared everywhere during the late 1800s to early 1900s, including in drinks, candies, creams, soaps and much more. But alarm bells didn’t go off until 1928 when the “Radium Girls” who painted the glowing radium watches started experiencing disturbing symptoms: sores, rotting body parts and teeth and eventually death. A lengthy investigation revealed that the radium was to be blamed, and the radioactive paint was finally banned in 1968.
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