Blush logo

6 Ridiculous Practices Considered as Popular Beauty Trends in the Past

When “Beauty is pain” becomes a real thing

By Eshal RosePublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Top Story - February 2022
6 Ridiculous Practices Considered as Popular Beauty Trends in the Past
Photo by Sunny Ng on Unsplash

How far are you willing to go for the sake of beauty? Could you drink human piss? Or bath in dung for better skin? Our ancestors were definitely up to the challenge, going to bizarre lengths in order to look hot.

Black Teeth for Beauty

As a dentist, I’ve had many people ask me how to achieve pearly white teeth. Who knew the opposite was trending in 12th century Japan?

The Japanese method of dyeing one’s teeth black was called Ohaguro. Members of the aristocratic group, especially women, dyed their teeth black as a symbol of beauty.

The white face was another popular beauty trend at the time, which was achieved using rice powder. Unfortunately, a bright white face meant natural teeth looked more yellow than normal (Yellow teeth remain an issue to this day).

The answer to their dental problems was to paint their teeth black, in stark contrast to their pale white face.

The dye was made by dissolving iron fillings in vinegar. Yikes!

Not only was this a beauty statement, but also a symbol of wealth.

This practice remained in trend for quite some time until the Empress of Japan set a new fashion statement by flashing her white teeth out in public in 1873. Yes, Queen!

Bleeding for Deathly Pale Skin

Fair skin has been the top desirable beauty trait across the world since forever. While many of us try using creams and other topical methods to lighten our skin, the Renaissance women took things one step further.

They found an all-natural method to look fair. Or pale, rather.

This involved leeches.

Tanned skin meant you toiled and labored outside, while pale skin meant you were affluent enough to spend your days just chilling indoors. (A year-long lockdown would have been delighting for Renaissance women!)

Sixth-century women would use leeches to drain their blood in a controlled way.

Or they would just slit a wrist and collected the blood. (That escalated quickly).

This procedure called bloodletting was a common practice, so women wouldn’t have felt squeamish about sticking little parasites on them.

But there were more drastic methods at the time to achieve the chalky white look, like using lead and mercury, so maybe a natural approach wasn’t such a bad idea.

Unless you count severe blood loss, but they probably didn’t care.

Portuguese Urine for Oral Hygiene

Unlike the Japanese, ancient Romans were all about sparkling white teeth and oral hygiene.

Except, their idea of a mouthwash involved urine.

Specifically Portuguese urine.

Yes, they got a little too creative in their quest for good dental health. And Portuguese urine was an expensive commodity.

Romans used urine to brush their teeth, as a mouthwash, and as laundry detergent because it contained ammonia. They kept jars on the corners of streets to collect pee and used it for their needs.

Wealthy Roman women were ready to pay a hefty amount to ship jars of urine from Portugal, and it was so popular that Portuguese urine had to be taxed!

Thankfully, dental products have come a long way since urine mouthwashes.

Elaborate Lard’s Wigs

Big hair was a popular trend in olden Europe. We are not talking voluminous hair, but Marie Antoinette style over-the-top hairdos.

Wigs were a style statement, and these intricate designs were made using frames of wood, straw, cotton, and animal lard.

The hair was draped over the frames, and they kept it in place using beef lard. There was no washing involved, and this attracted many lice, vermin, and rats.

The rats would nest inside the wigs, making them a literal “rat's nest” and women had to resort to placing cages around their heads at night!

Not to mention, animal lard was highly inflammable.

Along with all the candles used to light up homes, women with lard wigs were a walking fire hazard.

Tapeworm Pills

What’s the most drastic thing you have tried to lose weight? A water diet? The OMAD diet? Waist trainers, that cut off your blood supply?

Nothing our generation does can match what the women of the 1900s used to shed some pounds.

To transform from flab to fab, they used tapeworms!

The diet was simple but gross. Victorian women took one pill, which comprised a tapeworm egg. The egg would hatch inside them, and the tapeworm would feed on the food consumed by the host.

What a way to reduce calories!

They made the concept of losing weight while eating anything real. The woman could eat how much ever she pleased while simultaneously losing weight.

The health risks were severe, but that didn’t stop them from trying anything to lose weight. Much like many of us, even now.

Eighteen-Inch Heels

All of us petite women owe the makers of high heels some well-deserved gratitude. While modern stilettoes and platform heels can add four to six inches in height, 16th-century humans had better ideas.

They invented footwear called chopines, the height of which could go over eighteen inches!

These helped keep the wearer's feet protected from water and mud.

To compensate for the added height, women had to wear extra long skirts to balance their silhouette.

Clearly, they made walking difficult, and chopine wearers resorted to using walking sticks. The rich and noble had two servants escorting them to keep them from toppling over.

Those six-inch heels don’t look too impractical now, does it?

Thankfully, we have come a long way from using piss and popping worm pills. But some beauty trends remain ridiculous even in this era.


About the Creator

Eshal Rose

Writer of thoughts.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

Add your insights

Comments (8)

Sign in to comment
  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred2 months ago

    Hi we are featuring your excellent Top Story in our Community Adventure Thread in The Vocal Social Society on Facebook and would love for you to join us there

  • Dr. Airy Bangash11 months ago

    omg so shocking

  • Caitlin Nightingaleabout a year ago

    the tapeworm pill tho, omg

  • Martha Ballabout a year ago

    What an interesting historical deep dive! Reminds me of the wild 1950s fad diets

  • JAS Lian Ke2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, great write up!

  • Powanda Sowden2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing

  • thanks for sharing this unordinary knowledge regarding beauty in the past, i can hardly imagine it could happen like that ....!!!!! I would highly appreciate if you check out my articles too Eshal , will highly appreciate comments & subscribtion from you :) thanks.

  • Carol Townend2 years ago

    It is a scary thought to think of what was considered beautiful in the past. I am grateful that the beauty industry is different today!

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.