It’s been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Clearly, the beholder’s standards have changed through the years as what is considered beautiful has evolved (sometimes quite dramatically). For instance, nowadays, it’s pretty safe to say that the whiter your teeth are, the better. That wasn’t the case a few centuries ago, as women blackened their teeth in order to look foxy.
And while the beauty trends may seem a bit outlandish, the methods used to get there are even more interesting. Women didn’t reach for their night creams in order to make wrinkles disappear. Instead, they relied on crocodile dung to keep their skin smooth and taut. And believe it or not, that’s hardly the strangest thing women of the past did to adhere to ever-changing cultural standards of beauty.
Here, we’ve rounded up a few more odd trends and treatments that may make you feel thankful for your current beauty regime.
Think your beauty is timeless? If so, you may want to think again. Considering that what was “on trend” back in the day is vastly different than what is seen as stylish today, your look probably wouldn’t work long ago.
Beautiful Black Teeth
The custom of dying one’s teeth black, known as
In the Sengoku period of Japan, between 1467 and 1603, daughters of military commanders would dye their teeth as a coming of age tradition. The look didn’t last, though; the Japanese government went on to ban the practice in 1870.
When unsightly hairs pop up in between eyebrows, women today typically make a beeline to the salon to get those strays taken care of in a hurry. It was a different story back in the day, however, as women in ancient Greece rocked their unibrows with pride.
In fact, having a unibrow was seen as a sign of beauty and intelligence long ago. Kohl or dark powder was used to create the bold look, along with a mixture of goat hair and tree resin.
Receding Hairline Hotties
Women in medieval England believed that less was more when it came to hair. A high, round forehead was all the rage in the 1300s. To achieve this look, ladies back then would pluck their hairlines in order to make their faces look longer and take on an oval shape.
Fashion-forward women would also pluck their eyebrows until they were barely there. Unfortunately, this method was looked down upon by the church, as removing facial hair was considered a mortal sin. However, hair removal was accepted if the woman did it to fix severe disfigurement or to prevent her husband from looking down on her.
Pale Skin Was In
Today, women pay big bucks to have flawless, gorgeous tans all year long. Back in the “Golden Age of Spain,” however, it was a much different story.
According to Cosmopolitan magazine, women would eat clay to achieve porcelain-toned skin. The drawback? They were likely to become anemic or contract chlorosis.
In pre-Revolutionary France, women inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fantastical styles piled on white powder to get the pale complexion they craved. The powder was made from ingredients like pulverized bone, talc, and white lead and was combined with whale blubber, wax, or vegetable oil to create a greasy mixture that would stick to the skin.
Show Me Those Veins
Vampires and phlebotomists aren’t the only ones who like good veins. In Elizabethan Europe, women strived to make their veins appear as visible as possible.
Along with using leeches to make their veins more prominent, fashion-forward ladies also drew the outlines of the veins on their chests to make them stand out. This technique was used often on the neck and chest and coined the phrase “blue-blooded.”
Waxing your body hair and wearing color-changing contacts is nothing compared to what women long ago did to look gorgeous. Not only were a majority potentially dangerous, some were just downright gross.
Anti-Aging Crocodile Dung
You’re likely to pay big bucks today to get a mud facial or bath at some swanky salon. After all, mud has an assortment of detoxifying and anti-aging benefits. If you really want five-star treatment, however, you’ll need to mix that mud with crocodile dung.
At least, that’s what the ancient Greeks and Romans did in order to achieve spa-quality skin, says Business Insider. They believed that the crocodile waste had beautifying and restorative properties.
Eye-Brightening Orange Juice
It seems that having bright, white eyes is a trend that has been around for a while. The methods by which to achieve this look are a bit different, however.
Instead of reaching for Visine, women in the Victorian era used orange juice to make their eyes as bright as possible.
Squeezing orange juice directly into the eyes was
Acne-Busting Curdled Milk
Think that going in the kitchen and using food to get your skin looking good is a new thing? If so, think again. This concept has been around since the Middle Ages when women would look in their cabinets to find items that would fix their beauty ailments, says Cosmopolitan magazine.
“Kitchen beauticians” back in the day would rely on curdled milk to banish acne from their skin. Other food fixes included using boiled nettles to achieve glowing skin and cucumber juice to make freckles a thing of the past.
Forget expensive spa treatments to get your face looking luxurious. Instead, try rubbing some “man sweat” on your skin for that sought-after glow. Excuse us while we
According to BuzzFeed, folks in ancient Rome used gladiator sweat, which was sold at markets, to get their desired look.
Before hair spray and gel was used to tame stray wig hairs, women in the 18th century reached for lard to get their coifs smooth and slick.
If you think your hair sometimes turns into a “rats’ nest,” rest assured you probably don’t even come close to what these women experienced. The drawback of this beauty method is that rats were attracted to the fat-covered
Perhaps the worst part, however, was that they would sleep with cages around their
Arsenic Skin Treatments
Looking to even out your complexion and get skin that glows? If you were around in the early 1900s, you would reach for arsenic to get the job done.
Ingesting the poison was
Burning Off Your Hair
Think using shaving cream and a razor to remove unwanted body hair is bad? If so, you didn’t stand a chance of being on trend in Elizabethan times.
According to Business Insider, these brave women would use homemade depilatory creams made from a combination of arsenic and quicklime to burn the hair off of their bodies.
The hair-removal process became a little safer in the 1940s when wartime scarcity had women reaching for sandpaper to get rid of the fuzz. We’ll stick with the razors, though, thanks.