Anna Scanlon: Five Bizarre Beauty Practices from History

Anna, from Anna in Wonderland blog, has contributed a very interesting (and at times rather alarming!) guest post for us on some of the most bizarre beauty practices throughout history.  It makes for very interesting reading but, be warned:  it may not be advisable to read some of these methods too close to eating your next meal!

Five Bizarre Beauty Practices from History

One thing has remained a constant throughout history: women have gone through extreme pain and strain to create a perfect look. However, what was once conventional back in the day might be altogether bizarre in our modern world. Let’s take a look at some of them:

1. Bird Poop Make-Up

While modern day geishas may prefer white foundation made specifically for the face, their ancestors weren’t quite so lucky. In order to achieve their pale look, geishas rubbed their faces, ears, eyelids and the inside of their noses with a paste made of rice flour and bird poop.

2. Chewing the Fat

During Marie Antoinette’s time period, heavy and sky-high powdered wigs were the order of the day. In order to help them keep their height and shape, women laced them with lard—a primitive form of hair product. This, in turn, attracted rats, vermin and lice to the wigs.

3. A Hair Raising Renaissance

Removing unwanted hair isn’t a completely new invention. In fact, during the Renaissance, people burned their hair off with quicklime in an effort to create a smooth finish.

4. Death by...Nightshade?

During the turn of the 20th century, women in Europe used deadly nightshade in their eyes to dilate their pupils. This was supposed to make them appear much more doe-eyed and innocent, but instead caused a host of problems like blindness and visual distortion. Oh, it can also kill you if ingested.

5. A Worm-y Diet

Unfortunately, some women still see this as an alternative to beauty treatment. However, in the 1800s, women in the UK seeking a slimmer figure adopted this dangerous and deadly diet. They would swallow tapeworm larvae and then allow it to develop until it got too big. Then it was removed. The purpose was for the tapeworm to digest most of their food in order to keep their figure slim and attractive. Yikes!

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Thanks Anna  

You can check out Anna’s blog at and you’ll find her on Twitter @annascanlon