Beauty Treatments Of The Past: From Unpleasant To Downright Scary

We are used to make sacrifices in the name of beauty. We do chemical peels that burn our skin and that are borne only under general anesthesia; we pour hot wax on our legs; we tolerate botox injections; we even go under the knife to make our faces and bodies more close to perfection. But these beauty routines are mild in comparison to what women suffered in the past. Here are shocking procedures that women underwent to look good.   


When the age of Rubens's women had passed and much slimmer female figures than those depicted on his paintings had become fashionable, women went to various extremes in order to be slim. The most popular method of losing weight was to get infected with tapeworms. Having gotten into a woman's body, a tapeworm began to live as parasites in her digestive track, eating nutritious elements needed by her body and, thereby, making her lose weight. These tapeworms could grow up to 20 cm and, eating well, made women look significantly slimmer.      


Catherine de' Medici, the wife of Henry II of France, developed likening for slim waists. Lest her eyes were offended by women with big midriffs around her, she ordered them to wear corsets underneath their dresses. For a couple of centuries afterwards, women used to squeeze themselves so tightly in order to flaunt wasp-waists that they could not properly breathe and constantly coughed spitting out mucus with which their squashed lungs were filled. Nor could they eat normally either and, because their stomachs were tightly pressed, they belched and even threw up what they swallowed. 

3.Pulling Out Teeth

When it became fashionable to have thin faces with high cheekbones, women practiced pulling out their wisdom teeth. With their back teeth removed, their cheeks became to look hollow and their cheekbones appeared more pronounced.

4.Poisonous Cosmetics

At the beginning of the last century, Tho-Radia cosmetics were in high demand. The French company promised that this makeup would make a woman's skin radiant, even, and clean and would help her get rid of wrinkles, pimples, and other imperfections. In addition, Tho-Radia cosmetics were supposed to enhance blood circulation and cells regeneration and thus to keep a woman young and beautiful for long time. Tho-Radia contained chloride, thorium and radium bromide. At first, a woman's skin was indeed glowing. But later her skin began to fall off together with muscle tissues, revealing bones.


Arsenic was another beautifying treatment women were fond of in the past. It was said to make a woman's skin glow, her eyes shine, and her whole body blossom graciously. Many women in the 18th century took small amounts of arsenic, gradually increasing its intake for the rest of their lives. Unpleasant side effects were the development of goiter, because of the accumulation of arsenic in the thyroid gland, and a slow and painful death from arsenic poisoning. 


Women also used the plant belladonna to beautify themselves. They squeezed its juice and made eye drops out of it. These eye drops were said to give a woman's eyes dilated pupils, sensuous moisture, and mysterious shine. In addition to making their eyes sparkle, belladonna also often blinded women completely.

7.Lead Powder

Because of the epidemic smallpox, people in the 18th century often had uneven skin with scars on it; that is, those 20-30% of patients who survived the disease. In order to hide their scars, people used lead powder, which indeed gave their faces even look. Yet it also caused paralysis or brain tumor. The whole body system of powder users also gradually if inexorably failed.

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