Beauty has always been important throughout civilisation, whether it be the Ancient Egyptians or the glamourous Georgians. People have always wanted to be beautiful. In one of my previous posts, I talked about how the beauty standard changes rapidly – Forget Beauty Standards, so take these gross historical ‘beauty’ tips with a pinch of salt.
All throughout history there have been some very questionable tricks for beauty. There are so many, in fact, that I may have to turn this into a two-part series!
You read that right and no, I don’t mean shampoo. The Incans used to wash their hair in their own urine. Yep, pretty gross. To get that beautiful, shiny urine washed hair, you just had to pee in a bucket and let it ferment for about a week then simply wash your hair. I’ll stick to normal shampoo if you don’t mind.
2. Off with those freckles!
Freckles have been pretty unpopular throughout history. The paler and clearer your skin, the posher you looked. Having freckles showed you were out in the sun often, implying that you worked. During the Tudor times, people used to literally burn their freckles off with sulfur. That sounds incredibly painful. It also left horrendous scars on their skin which caused them to use lead-based foundation to cover them up. Lead is poisonous and often caused internal organ failure or even death. All that just to remove completely natural freckles! See picture of Queen Elizabeth I at the top.
3. Mouse mouth
The Ancient Egyptians would use half of a freshly dead mouse as a cure to toothache. You would need to catch a live mouse, cut it in half, then place it in your mouth while it is still warm. Tooth decay was pretty big in Ancient times as medicine was pretty poor, so things that we consider pretty minor nowadays could’ve meant a death sentence for someone in ancient times – like tooth decay.
4. That’s some fat hair
If we want to keep hair in place all-day in modern times we would use hairspray or hair gel, not in Georgian or Ancient Egyptian times! They would use animal fat. Yep, so gross, but it worked! Considering Georgian women would keep their hair styled for weeks (gross in itself) on end, they would need something pretty strong to keep that structure.
5. Arsenic about face
During the 1600s, when pale skin was in high demand, women would use powders, along with lead foundations, to achieve this look. Some powders would be made from flour and some made from the very poisonous arsenic. Wearing makeup during this time was different to now, they would rarely remove it until it got too thick, so they would just continue to layer these poisonous ingredients on top of each other. There are reports that Queen Elizabeth I died with makeup an inch thick on her face.
6. Wash your mouth out with… pee?
Not only has pee been used to clean hair but also as a mouthwash. I’m feeling pretty sick writing this. The Romans used to gargle with wee to freshen breath (how?) and whiten teeth. Thank God we have proper mouthwashes today, eh?
7. Bloody hell!
The middle ages was a wild ride for many reasons, one of those reasons was their beauty tricks. If you have seen season 3 of American Horror Story, you know that rubbing blood over your face and skin to try to look younger has been used by people for centuries. The middle ages are no exception, however. There have been some famous ‘vampiric’ women trying to harbour youth like Delphine Lalaurie and Elizabeth Bathory. Before sadists used beautiful young women, bull and hare blood was used. Just brush it all over your face and see the glow of youth… or not.
In conclusion, just because we have more safe and less gross options to choose from nowadays doesn’t mean we’re innocent. Remember that trend of putting your bare feet into a tank of flesh-eating fish? What the hell was that all about? Or how about using crushed beetles to get red lipstick?
Could you handle all of these beauty tips?