The very test bench for a good cosmetician is when he has to proceed during the practices of thanatopraxis and tanatoaesthetic

Piotr Brzeziński1, Lorenzo Martini1,

1University of Siena, Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy, 2C.R.I.S.M.A. Inter University Centre for Researched Advanced Medical Systems

Corresponding author: Prof. Lorenzo Martini, E-mail:

DOI: 10.7241/ourd.2019e.26

Submission: 06.06.2019; Acceptance: 12.07.2019

Cite this article: Brzeziński P, Martini L. The very test bench for a good cosmetician is when he has to proceed during the practices of thanatopraxis and tanatoaesthetic. Our Dermatol Online. 2019;10(e):e26.1-e26.2.

Related Content

Copyright information
© Our Dermatology Online 2019. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by Our Dermatology Online.


Thanatopraxis or embalming [1] consists of several techniques used to preserve and expose the mortal remains, with somatic care (tanatoaesthatics).

The term comes from the Greek “THANATOS”, the god of death and “PRAXIS”, practice.

Its chief aims are:

a)Delay the natural process of decomposition.

b)Promote hygiene and suppress odours.

c)Give a more natural appearance to the face.


Several countries require the injection of a formaldehyde liquid before repatriation of a coffin (especially from cold lands toward torrid reasons, in case of voyages entailing the transport of the remains that may last many days).

The aforesaid countries are:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chili, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Irana, Iraqi, Japan, Jordania, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia(except Muslims), Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA,Venezuela, Vietnam.

These practices are accepted by Christian religion (Catholic or Protestant), forbidden by Jewish religion and by Islam (except for repatriation of the coffin to some countries).

England absolutely banishes and prescribes thanatopraxis and embalmment of whichever corpse, in Germany, Spain, Ireland these methods have been accepted after many years of controversies,

Austria, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Switzerland do not manifest any interest in this specific concern.

Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Luxembourg, Scandinavian countries (except for repatriation of a coffin to some countries) avoid in every conceivable way these procedures [1].

Moreover, if the corpse belongs to an individual who had contracted the following diseases may not undergo to thanatopraxis and tanatoaesthetics.

These are the lethal diseases:

Intoxication from Anthrax; Cholera; Hemorrhagic fevers; Viral hepatitis; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; Plague; Rabies; AIDS; Smallpox and other orthopoxviruses.

Order from the French Conseil d’Etat, on November 8, 1999, somatic care is authorized in case of serious septic condition, Confirmed hepatitis A, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Since January 1st, 2018 somatic care has been again allowed for AIDS (France and few other European countries) [2].

Now, it is well known that decomposition of the human corpse starts almost immediately after death.

When an individual dies, the heart stops pumping, depriving its cells of oxygen. Cells need oxygen and when they don’t get it, they begin to break down. All cells need oxygen to survive, but different cells die at varying rates. Brain cells, for example, die within minutes; while, skin cells can survive over 24 hours after death.

It is evident that skin cells may develop putrescein (1,4 diaminobutan) during the first 24 hours after death and cadaverine begins to develop (almost as far as skin cells are involved) after the first day after the death of the individual.

Putrescein and Cadaverine can be masked by some natural substances and fragrances.

The AA have proposed peer vinegar (useful to mask the bad smell of putrescein) and some herbal or floral fragrances that contain Mechirujihi-Dorojiyasumon acid (i.e. methyl jasmonate), [3,4] as

Jasmine abyssinicum, angulare, azoricum, beesianum, elegans, humile, malabaricum, nervosum, officinale (poet’s jasmine, summer jasmine, white jasmine) and petals and leaves of other plants belonging to the Family of Oleraceae, apt to mask the smell of the cadaverine.

It must be kept on account that epidermis emits volatile fluids, that risk to spoil foundation or ceruses the cosmetician uses to use for the face decoration, especially near eyes, mouth and nose, and so it was necessary for the AA to insert in formula even an inert powder capable to absorb all the fluids that can smell bad after hours.

The AA have conceived a liposomial fluid emulsion based on 4 ingredients:

Poet’s jasmine essential oil; Peer vinegar; Cocoamidopropylbetaine (that is an amphiphilic surface active ingredient, that must be seen as the phospholipid, that embodies the keystone for the preparation of an excellent and stable liposomial system); Alumina

The preparation consists in a ultrasonication of this mix in ice bath for 15 minutes, in order to yield a fluid liposomial dispersion that will comprise even the absorbing powder (the alumina).

The AA handed over the fluid liposomial emulsion to an embalmer and prayed him to use it after 6 hours after the death (after the injection of formaldehyde, where compulsory).

The procedure of tanatoaesthetics lasts almost 4 hours and so the embalmer has had the opportunity to state that 24 hours after the death (idest 10 hours after the accomplishment of all the procedures required, idest injection of formaldehyde and maquillage) skin is not oily, wet or stinking.

This type of fluid liposomial emulsion could be suggested even for mannequins who have to change attire very often during défilés in hottests places (underneath LED lights or en plein air on the beach or near the poolside especially in summer), because the inert powder can absorb sweat of face and armpits and fragrances can inhibit the girls or young men who are to perform fashion shows do not smell bad.


1. Bourgeois E; L'art de l'embaumement. 2001. Ed. Berger (Canada). Distribution by Association Française d'Information Funéraire, 9, rue Chomel 75007 France.

2. Législation concernant les soins de conservation; Code général des collectivités territoriales (Art. R. 2213–24).

3. Saad NY, Muller CD, Lobstein A. Major bioactivities and mechanism of action of essential oils and their components: Flav Fragran J. 2013;28:269-352.

4. USP 20160340292A1: Ruppin C, Forquy C. Odour-masked amine composition. 2018.


Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

Request permissions
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the e-mail ( to contact with publisher.

Related Content:

Related Articles Search Authors in


Comments are closed.