Think getting your eyebrows plucked is a pain? Think again.
Just be glad you’re a modern type of gal. In the past, for some people, staying pretty could range from being simply painful, to literally being a matter of life or death.
Yes, these are genuine beauty treatments from history which really were as insane as they sound…
1 – Hair removal from hell
So, you want to get rid of your leg hair – what do you do? Whip out a razer? Or how about sanding it off (just try to ignore the blood when your skin becomes raw, or the dryness afterward as it tries to heal). Yep, as recently as the 1940s, women would use plain old sandpaper to literally rub the hair from their legs. Nice.
And if that didn’t work? Well, there was always arsenic. In ancient Egypt, a paste would be made from arsenic and quicklime (more commonly found in cement these days), which would be spread on the offending skin and would effectively ‘melt’ your hair off, at the same time as poisoning you. Lovely!
2 – When being pale was popular
Back in the day, the English Victorians loved to look as pale as possible. It was seen as a display of ‘purity’ and youthfulness – and they’d stop at nothing to achieve the best results. One method was to use white lead (which was completely toxic) to create a face mask. Queen Elizabeth I of England swore by the stuff. And if that didn’t work? Well, you could always just bleed a bit to promote the ghoulish look.
‘Bloodletting’ was the practice of allowing yourself to bleed out, through a vein into a waiting vessel, or basically, a bucket. Naturally, having severe blood loss, you’d look much paler for a few days – which the Victorians believed was a great effect. It’s just a shame that their bodies didn’t agree.
3 – A fast way to lose weight
Ever wish you could eat as much as you want, without absorbing all those pesky calories yourself? Well in the 20th century, they had the perfect solution. Enter ‘The Tapeworm Diet’. This amazing plan involved you simply popping a few tapeworm eggs into your sandwich, allowing them to hatch and grow inside your stomach and then letting them eat the food you ate rather than you digesting it yourself. It certainly had the desired effect. The downside was that you’d end up with malnutrition thanks to the tapeworms growing up to 20ft long each inside your intestines and basically robbing you of any potential nutrition at all. Sound appetizing? Wait until you find one in your poo…
4 – Eyelashes? Pull them out!
In the renaissance period, eyelashes were seen as awful things which should be removed. They believed it made a woman look ‘frightened’. A weird trend, right? But perhaps to these people, this was just their version of armpit hair removal.
Take a look at any painting from the era – the eyelashes will be missing.
But how did they do this? Well, a mixture of resin, wax turpentine and oil did the trick of ripping them out. Sounds perfectly normal, huh?
Perhaps the cabbage soup diet isn’t so bad after all?
Next time you feel like sticking to salad and low-calorie soups is a fate worse than death, spare a thought for the people who had beauty treatments like this to contend with. Suddenly, we’re thinking that going for the odd 3-mile jog doesn’t seem so daunting after all…
Have you ever tried a weird beauty treatment or weight loss therapy? Tell us about it in the comments below!