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7 Disturbing Beauty Trends in History

beauty trends from past

You might think you've seen some bizarre beauty trends floating around on social media but think again, honey!

From lead-based makeup to foot binding, some of the beauty practices of the past are both fascinating and horrifying. While we may cringe at these trends now, they were once considered the epitome of beauty and glamour. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most shocking beauty trends in history that we, quite frankly, would rather pass on.

Good Riddance to These Beauty Trends from the Past

1. Lead-based makeup

In an effort to look pale, the ladies of old rubbed lead on their faces. This attempt to look fair skinned, resulted in argyria, lead poisoning, and other complications. From ancient Greece to ancient Rome, lead was used in various ways to lighten the skin. It was also believed to clear blemishes, as well as, improve the color and texture of their skin.

2. Foot binding

This is a trend that began in the 10th century and persisted into the 20th century. It was inspired by the idea that it would help a woman to be more attractive to her husband. In ancient China, women of higher status were believed to have small feet, whereas women with larger feet were considered an embarrassment. This form of foot binding was not only humiliating considering its roots, but also very painful. The toes of the feet were bent and broken, then bound with cloth. They say beauty hurts but this is just plain evil!

3. Acidic smiles

The beauty fad of teeth whitening using sulphuric acid began in the Georgian Era and became very common in Britain. This technique used a powder made from cuttlefish and bicarbonate of soda. The acid wash was done regularly and ended up quickly stripping their teeth of enamel further leading to tooth decay. 

4. Lard wigs

rococo era wigs beauty trend

Since the early 17th century, the trend of using lard as a base for extreme hairstyles showed no sign of dying. This technique was used in Europe and North America, and it was passed down from generation to generation. The concept behind this practice was that lard could repair hair loss, thinning hair, split ends, dryness, and roughness of the scalp. It would also add volume to thin or fine hair and make sure that their elaborate coiffure wigs (think Marie Antoinette) stayed in place. It's been said that because rats were attracted to the hair product, they would often make homes in them, yikes! Additionally, they were highly combustable and often resulted in scalp scars and lice. Did we say yikes?!

6. The Unibrow

Very few, we repeat, very few people can pull of the unibrow these days. However, the monobrow, was embraced in ancient Greek. It was believed that this look was considered a sign of intelligence, purity, and beauty. In fact, wealthy women would paint it in using pigment if they didn't have one naturally. 

7. Plucking Everything

historical beauty trends

The Renaissance was a very unique time in history when it came to beauty! In today's culture we cherish our lashes, even using lash extensions. They were more of a burden, however, at the end of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. In fact, all body hair in general was frowned upon. Eyebrows, eyelashes, even the hairline was plucked back to accentuate the forehead. 

The world of beauty has changed a lot throughout the centuries. Fashion and beauty trends may come and go, but some of them are best left in the past. While it's fascinating to look back at the bizarre and sometimes dangerous beauty trends from history, it's important to remember that our health and well-being should always come first. We should embrace our natural beauty and protect the body we were blessed with.

Cover Image Credits:, Wikimedia Commons, Pinterest, History of Fashion Design

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