Publication date December 6, 2021
10 Of The Most Bizarre Beauty Trends Of History
They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Let’s just hope that that’s not the case with beauty trends. Because boy does history have its weird fashion moments!
Here are 10 of the most bizarre ones.
Urine as Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Looks like dandruff has been somewhat of a problem for a very long time now. While today we treat them with the best shampoos (sans weird ingredients) that our scientists have whipped up, ancient Incans dealt with them more harshly. They would collect their urine, ferment it for over a week and then use it as their own private anti-dandruff shampoo. They discovered that the urea in urine can effectively remove dandruff if used over a few months time. Speaking of urine, ancient Romans actually used them as a mouthwash. Now, let’s think back to the first-ever person who discovered that urea treats dandruff. Now, what was he/she trying to do? Just something to keep your brain engaged.
So Long Forehead Hair
In an era where we pay for professionals to transplant hair in our foreheads with a receding hairline, the women of the Renaissance era took things to a whole new level. The trend was to comb up your hair on the forehead very high to make it look more prominent. The wealthier women of several European kingdoms would ensure that their faces had little to no hair as was the fashion trend established at that time. Whoever changed the trend for good deserves an award.
Paint Me Black
Source: Live Japan
When the Japanese visited European countries in ancient times, they were often appalled by how unhygienic they found the citizens. The Japanese brushed their teeth daily while the Europeans frowned upon that concept owing to “not wanting to lose our teeth by age 40”. *cough* WHAAAAT?! But here is something crazy that the Japanese did to undo all the credibility they had built regarding oral hygiene. Japanese women who were married were required to paint their teeth black to show their loyalty to their husbands. Imagine time traveling to the feudal era in Japan and running into a Japanese woman with blackened teeth - I would be disappointed that she is just a regular victim of patriarchy instead of a cool anime villain.
The Teeny-Tiny Feet
In 13th century China, there was a clear obsession with tiny feet. Prospective brides should have feet as tiny as three inches to be considered desirable. Who cares if you have a Ph.D., right? To achieve this 3 inch-ridiculousness, women would contort their feet to fit into contraptions that were designed to shrink their feet. This naturally painful trend lasted for 700 more years and completely died down only in the 20th century.
Where’s the Rest of the Teeth?
Let me take a moment here to say, “What were you high on, Renaissance period?”
Apart from voluntary bald spots and creepy eye-brow-less wanderers, the Renaissance period is guilty of inflicting another painful (literally and metaphorically) beauty trend on its women! The women of that period filed their teeth to make them shorter. The shorter the teeth, the more attractive the person apparently. Were the oral hygienists of the renaissance era murdered under mysterious circumstances? I’ll let you know if I find out more.
The Mice Wash
Source: History Collection
Let’s go back farther than the renaissance. Let’s look at the ancient Egyptians. The creators of a civilization that transformed mathematics, architecture, medicine, and science. Do you know what they thought was a good idea? Ancient Egyptians would use mashed dead mice with other ingredients to treat toothache. They would also use the same concoction as a mouthwash for fresher breath. This goes out to show that no matter how many glass ceilings you break, you can still find something in your historical photo album that can embarrass you.
Vitamin D whaaaaat?
In a time when TikTok was not around to make a trend go viral, this one somehow managed to reach multiple continents. Women across North America, Asia, and Europe would rub lead on their faces. This apparently made them look paler, which was the aspirational standard of beauty that everyone wanted to be a part of. But you know what finally stopped the trend? Lead poisoning. Naturally, after several months of application, some women fell sick and when that became a major side effect, women stopped applying lead on their faces.
No Eyelashes, No Problem!
Source: The Fedaralist
Apparently, it was a major crime to have any sort of facial hair in the middle ages! I mean, women in Europe would rather pull their eyelashes off than question why they were constantly under such pressure to do the most ridiculous things to look good as per society’s standards. I mean, I get that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but seriously, whaaaaat?
Crocodile Dung for the Win
Source: Ancient Origins
Ancient Greeks and Romans, two other civilizations that transformed the way we understand the universe with advanced astronomy, philosophy, and whatnot, had their own misunderstandings with beauty too. For example, they believed that crocodile dung had restorative properties and mixed it with mud. They took a bath in the mixture and also used it as a facial. If you think your day is bad, think of the poor chap who lost a limb while crocodile-poop-hunting.
What’s With All the Arsenic?
Source: Lapham's Quarterly
Let’s come back to the renaissance one last time, shall we? Women of that period used arsenic internally and externally to look paler. Wealthier women of the era would completely submerge themselves in arsenic as it promised paler skin. There was even a market for arsenic tablets that apparently worked with your system to give paler skin. But, as usual, it led to widespread arsenic poisoning and eventually came to a stop a few decades later.
We know that it has been a lot. But once your head is done spinning, tell us about your great fashion moments that will make history.