We talk a lot about skin care. What to do, what not to do and some of the crazy things people do in pursuit of the perfect complexion. I mean really, we’re doing things like Vampire facials (revered by celebs like Kim Kardashian and JWoww) to keep our faces glowing and young looking as possible.
We like to think that our technology and science has brought us a long way, and that is true. But have you ever wondered what our children’s children’s children will be doing to their skin? On that note, why don’t we take a look back at some of the crazier skin care trends that came before ours!
1. White lead and vinegar to create the perfect shade of pale
Now-a-days we’re all about looking sunkissed and glowing, but that’s a relatively new trend. Back in the 1800’s pale skin was in. It symbolized wealth and royalty, as the people with the palest skin didn’t have to work outside. But this shade could be replicated in other, more dangerous way. Many women would mix white lead, vinegar and some sort of fat together to create the perfect pale. For beautiful rosy cheeks? Red lead, of course! Lead was also thought to help treat blemishes and tone skin. More often times though it caused women’s hair and teeth to fall out and death. But beauty is pain, right?
2. Want clear skin? Just eat some arsenic!
No, you didn’t read that wrong. People really did eat arsenic to treat breakouts and blemishes. It was even sold in wafer form so it ws more easily digestable! If you’re wondering, yes it did work to clear up breakouts, but caused other nasty side effects like vomiting, sores and hair and teeth loss. But at least their skin was clear! (Minus the sores…)
3. If arsenic and lead aren’t your taste, why not try radium?
Anything for healthy glowing skin right? When radium was discovered by Marie and Alfred Currie it was thought to be a miracle cure for problem skin. But, if you know the story of Madam Currie, you know this was not the case. (She died of radium poisoning, if you were unaware.) The belief stemmed from the fact that this radio active substance glowed, so it must help skin glow too! It was used in everything from over the counter creams to spa facials. This practice was stopped after it was discovered just how toxic radium is.
4. Mercury was a big ingredient and blemish fighter in the 18th century
Mecury was revered in the early days for the beautiful red pigment it added to cosmetics. While we know today the mercury is not something you want to be ingesting, it was widely used in the 18th century to cure skin ailments. It was toted as a cure for blemishes and used as an exfoliator. These days we know better than to rub mercury all over our faces – I’ll take a pimple over an open sore any day.
5. Dull, lifeless eyes? Try citrus drops!
They say eyes are the window to the soul and this belief was held especially true for many women in the 18th century. Big dilated pupils were all the rage and women would do almost anything for them. To achieve the wide-eyed look many women put lemon, lime or orange drops in their eyes to make the pupils appear larger. Of course, this was a painful process but it gave women the desired effect.
We look back at these trends today and wonder what these people must have been thinking, but I’m sure people will be saying the same thing about our vampire facials fifty years from now.
What are some of the crazy things you’ve tried to get the perfect complexion?