1. Poisonous Makeup
Lead and arsenic — two things that we now know are definitely poisonous — were two common ingredients in facial powder, eyeliner, and mascara back in the day. Talk about looks that kill.
2. Having an Audience as You Get Ready in the Morning
Before the “getting ready in the privacy of your bathroom” fad caught on, royal and upper-class ladies of 18th century France devoted hours each morning to getting ready in full hair, makeup, and wardrobe with an audience of admirers.
3. Corsets as an Underwear Staple
Full corsets lined with whalebone and steel reached their popularity peak in the Victorian era, but came with quite a few hazards. Today, getting dressed is a cinch!
4. Going Blind for Prettier Eyes
Eye drops made from the poisonous herb “deadly nightshade” were used by women centuries ago to dilate the pupils, making the eyes appear large and coquettish. Thankfully, today we have something more effective (and non-deadly): contact lenses!
5. Smelly Cosmetics
In Ancient Rome, cosmetics smelled so bad that women had to drench themselves in perfume to hide the stench. Today, cosmetics smell dreamy!
6. And Nasty “Natural” Skin Care
Animal dung and droppings were often used in ancient skin-care routines, believed to have revitalizing effects. Today, a DIY avocado mask does just fine.
7. Using Lard for Hairstyling
Before hair gel and sprays came along, coiffeurs would set wigs and elaborate hairstyles with lard, which attracted rats and mice. Eek!
Imagine going to a party wearing an enormous, padded cage made of cane, wire, and whalebone under your dress. For noblewomen in 16th century Europe, they didn’t party hard, partying was hard.
9. Heaviest Hairstyles
French women in the 18th century went for height — often over one to two feet to be exact! Achieving the “pouf” required a personal hairdresser, a few hours, and heavy understructures made of wire, rolled-up cloth, and false hair. Clip-in extensions, we are eternally grateful.
10. And the Sick Quest to Get More Pale
Paleness was such a coveted beauty feature in the 15th to 18th centuries that women would often go to drastic lengths to achieve the look. Some would attach leeches to their ears to drain the color from their face. Not. Cute.