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10 Ancient Beauty Practices That Will Make You Cringe

Urine Facials

In ancient Rome, both men and women used urine as part of their facial skin care routine. Apparently, it made their skin appear youthful, and some of them even used it on their teeth as a whitener!


Pale skin was all the rage in the sixth century, so many wealthy women took to draining blood from their bodies to temporarily make their skin paler. This technique worked, but we can certainly imagine it weakened their immune systems and likely took years off their lives.

Deadly Nightshade Eye Drops

Until the 20th century, nightshade was used as a pupil-dilator by women who wanted their eyes to appear larger and sexier. There’s no doubt that this treatment worked, but after extensive use, many women began to go blind. 

Lard Wigs

Large, white wigs were the style of choice for rich women in the 18th century, but they didn’t have the techniques we have today to keep the wigs in place. So, they would glob lard onto their heads to make the wigs stick. These wigs would then be worn for months at a time, leading to frequent rat and lice infestations.

Lead Face Powder

The pale face made a comeback in the 18th century, but this time women turned to lead face powder instead of bleeding themselves out. An improvement, right? Wrong. This product provided full coverage of small pox scars and had a nice, matte finish. However, unlike your favorite M.A.C. powder, this one resulted in brain swelling, paralysis, and eventually, death. 


Ingesting Arsenic

Up until the 20th century, ingesting arsenic was a common practice for women who wanted a rosy complexion and shining eyes. Women started with a single grain at first, then increased it so they could build up a tolerance. Unfortunately, they didn’t know that arsenic frequently causes goiters. So much for that youthful look! 

(image via Wikipedia)

Tapeworm Diet

In the 19th century, if women wanted to lose weight, they didn’t have the option of Advocare or Weight Watchers. So, they ingested tapeworm eggs in the form of a pill and let the tapeworm feed until they eventually became malnourished. At this point, they would attempt to remove the tapeworm, which could grow up to ten feet long!

Crocodile Dung Baths

As you slather on a mud mask or take a mud bath to moisturize your skin and bring back some elasticity, think about the fact that ancient Romans and Greeks used to do the same thing. Except, they added crocodile dung. It’s said that this skin treatment was highly effective, but to us, it’s definitely not worth it!

Foot Binding

In ancient China, women would have their feet broken and bound as children to keep them small and dainty. The process was extremely painful and it left these women crippled for life. However, this ancient practice didn’t become illegal until the mid-20th century!

(image via Instagram)

Chin Reducer and Beautifier

Double chins have always been out of style, but most people today ignore them or opt for plastic surgery. Yet, in the late 19th century, women turned to Professor Mack’s Chin Reducer and Beautifier, which was a horrifying-looking contraption that essentially compressed your chin into your face. Can you say jaw pain? 

(image via Instagram)