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30 Dangerous Beauty Trends People Actually Used

Lip Plumpers

A trend went around not too long ago that encouraged people to use suction to enhance the size of their lips. Some people went too far with the fad, which caused their lips to bruise and split open. This wasn’t deadly, but it could easily lead to an infection. It goes without saying that this was also extremely painful and disfiguring. 

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Teeth Whitening

We’re on a quest to make our teeth as white as possible, but sometimes this can be dangerous. Most teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide which can weaken your tooth enamel. This will make it more sensitive and easy to break. If teeth whitening is prolonged, this damage can be permanent. 

UV Nails

No one wants to get a manicure to have it chipped within a few days. That’s why gel manicures have grown in popularity. The gel used in these manicures can weaken your nails, but the real danger lies in the light. The UV light used in the procedure increases your risk of cancer, and that’s a high price to pay for a manicure. 

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Brazilian Wax

Brazilian waxes can be dangerous for a few reasons. In the pursuit to be hairless down below, you could end up with a rash or ingrown hairs. The most dangerous thing that could happen is a skin infection due to your skin being raw and irritated.

Tanning Beds

We all know the dangers of too much sun exposure, but do tanning beds also carry those same risks? Yes, they do. Even so, women go to tanning beds to darken their skin for that perfect golden complexion. Several studies prove that tanning can lead to excessive aging on the skin and even cancer, which could result in death.  

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In the past, women wanted to look as white as snow as a way to show that they didn't have to do a days work in their life. To achieve the ghostly look, they would slather their face with a thick layer of makeup that was made from deadly lead.  Side effects of lead exposure include unnaturally gray hair, dry skin, abdominal pain, and constipation. Eventually, the skin would rot away and leave scars. 


In the 1920s and '30s, women wanted to look young and fresh. Little did they know that their beauty secret was actually killing them. Touted as the latest scientific breakthrough in beauty, women used radiation to stay young. Eventually, studies found that it caused vomiting, anemia, internal bleeding, seizures, and cancer. 



Do you want to be thin? If the answer to your question is yes and you lived in the 1900s, you might have been offered a tapeworm.  Taken in pill form, the worm moves through the digestive tract while eating nutrients your body needs. This makes the worm grow and the host shrink. Sometimes, the worm could eat too much and cause death through malnourishment.

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While it’s a beautiful name, Belladonna is a very dangerous plant. Women in the Victorian ages didn’t know this when they dropped it into their eyes to create a glowing look. It made the pupils dilate while also causing blindness. Using the plant could also cause heart failure, coma, and death. 

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In the early 1900s, women began to realize that lead was a dangerous ingredient to use on their bodies. So, they turned to cyanide instead to dye their hair. Yes, cyanide.  The dangers of cyanide weren't as well-known back then, so women would use this poison to dye their hair black. Naturally, this would have harmful effects on the women. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and death. 

Arsenic for Complexion

If you want a clear complexion, there are a ton of products you can grab. In the 1800s, that wasn’t the case. Women that wanted a clear and pale complexion would use arsenic as their go-to beauty product. It killed the red blood cells in the body while improving skin tone. It also caused vomiting, internal bleeding, hair loss, blindness, convulsing, and death.

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Arsenic Dye

You may want to avoid green dresses from the 1800s. The dye was made with arsenic to make a dress that was to die for—literally. The arsenic-based green dye was incredibly popular until doctors warned that it would cause the death of the wearer. The arsenic caused sores, scabs, headaches, and cancer. 

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Nowadays we know that mercury is harmful to your health, but it was another method women used to clear blemishes like freckles and pimples. They used it similarly to an exfoliator while mixing it with other cosmetics. Women also used it as blush for rosy cheeks. This would lead to peeling skin, discoloration, damage to the neurological system, and much more.  

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X-Rays are useful, no doubt, but most doctors throw on a thick layer of lead to keep your internal organs safe. During the turn of the century, women wanted all the x-rays they could get to cure skin conditions like eczema and acne. They would be exposed up to 20 hours for 10 to 20 treatments. By the 1940s, it was apparent that the treatment was causing cancer. 

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Corsets are attractive, but they’re incredibly dangerous. Women used to wear whalebone corsets to force their body into an unrealistic shape. This would force the organs around the body, which would cause injury and severe damage. While some women may still use corsets, we rarely tighten them until our bodies rearrange. 

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Foot Binding

Historians aren’t sure where this fad originated, but foot binding was popular in China until the 1940s. Women would fold the little toes of their toddlers back and tie them as tightly as possible. Sometimes the toes were as small as a teacup. The biggest issue is that the child could no longer walk without extreme pain.

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Rib Removal

Believe it or not, women used to ask surgeons to remove a rib so they could have an impossibly thin waist.  However, this procedure can lead to all sorts of complications—especially infections, since this was common during the time before modern medical sterilization protocol. 

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A crinoline is a stiffened petticoat that held out a woman’s skirt. It was famous during the late 1800s and early 1900s until many women started to die. The crinoline was easily flammable, and the massive amounts of fabric made women burn to death quickly. Other risks including entanglement in carriage wheels and getting caught by sudden gusts of wind. 

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Are stilettos too much for you? What about chopines? The chopine was a primitive high heel that was a symbolic reference to an elevated cultural or social standing of the wearer. Throughout the years, chopines got taller and taller—with some being as tall as 20 inches high. It made it easy for women to fall, and it could result in the death of the wearer. 

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Stiff High Collar

While there aren’t as many risky men's fashion fads, the stiff high collar was extremely dangerous. In the 19th century, it was nicknamed the "father killer" for how easily it could cause death. It would cut off the blood supply to the carotid artery, which would kill the wearer through asphyxia or apoplexy. 

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Neck Extensions

Having a long neck was a sign of beauty, and some women would do anything to have it. Some would use neck rings to deform the body of the wearer permanently, but this would cause incredible pain. This beauty trend is still in use in some countries, but most have abandoned the fad. 

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Powdered Wigs

Powdered wigs weren’t deadly, but they were undoubtedly dangerous. These wigs were a famous status symbol that would often go unwashed. They became an ideal environment for lice and sometimes mice, depending on the size. The pests made it easy for disease to spread, until the end of the 19th century when the powdered wig fell out of style. 

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Teeth Painting

While we try to get pearly whites, women in southeastern Asia wanted black teeth. It was a symbol of health, beauty, and aristocratic status. Known as “ohaguro,” individuals drank an iron-based black dye with cinnamon and resin.  The procedure would cause severe reactions, and it ceased in 1870 when the federal government banned it. 

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Wet Muslin Dresses

You may have heard of white muslin dresses, but did you know that these dresses were dangerous? Or rather, they could be dangerous. Long ago, women would wet their dresses before they went out to accentuate their figures. This practice led to cases of severe pneumonia and caused the deaths of thousands of women. 

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Vegetable Fibers

Wearing undergarments in the past was a dangerous game, considering you might purchase one made from vegetable fibers. This fabric was incredibly popular since it was also incredibly cheap. Little did the wearer know that the threads were flammable and were the cause of many accidents in the 1800s.

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Lysol Douche

In the 1960s, women that got a “not so fresh” feeling might have grabbed a can Lysol. Advertisements encouraged women to use the chemical for feminine hygiene as well as contraception. They had no idea that it was incredibly dangerous and could lead to injury, infections, and accidental pregnancy (if used as a "contraceptive"). 

High Heels

Not all dangerous beauty trends are a thing of the past. Current beauty trends can also be dangerous, including wearing high heels. Many women wear high heels with their outfits, but most don’t know that they can cause damage to the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. It can also alter a woman’s posture and gait, which can cause pain. 

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Age spot treatments may work wonders, but they can also be dangerous. They work by interrupting the formation of melanin, but they can also cause cancer if they’re made with hydroquinone. Studies have also shown that the chemical is also linked with ochronosis, a condition which, ironically, darkens the skin. 

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It isn’t unusual for a woman to get a hair straightening treatment for silky, smooth hair. Unfortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that some hair straightening products contain unsafe levels of formaldehyde. It’s a known carcinogen that can also cause eye irritation, bloody nose, rashes, coughing, and wheezing. 

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With a desire to look younger, many people choose to get botox injections. It may not seem scary, but the injections actually contain clostridium botulinum, the bacterium responsible for botulism . That’s right—to look young, some people inject a neurotoxin in their face. This can cause infections, permanent paralysis, and sometimes death.