beauty

12 Beauty Trends From The Past That Left Women In Excruciating Pain

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

As someone who suffered pretty severe acne growing up, I definitely tried my fair share of painful remedies in an attempt to finally rid myself of the pesky spots. I have also been a sucker for some pretty unfortunate diet fads — and don’t even get me started on the chaos that occurs every time I try to walk around in high heels.

But all of that seems like nothing compared to the agony women endured in the past to meet the beauty status quo. There’s no telling why some of these ghastly trends took over, but I’m sure there are more than a few things we still do that will baffle future generations, too.

I knew corsets were a big deal back in the day and could never imagine waltzing around in one of those constrictive contraptions. But as you’ll see below, that’s not even the most brutal practice that our ancestors considered completely normal.

Take a look and let us know if we left anything off the list. And don’t forget to SHARE with your friends!

Thumbnail Sources: Wikimedia Commons 1, 2

1. Corsets

1. Corsets

Painfully cinching into these torso-tightening horrors caused internal organs to dangerously shift around inside countless women.

2. Crinoline

2. Crinoline

Crinoline may not seem painful on the surface, but these massive nests that made dresses so impressively rotund also had a habit of catching on fire. This caused excruciating burns and even the deaths of thousands of women at the height of its popularity. There were more flame-retardant fabrics available, but they were deemed too unattractive.

3. Fontanges

3. Fontanges

The bulky headdresses were popular in the 17th century. And aside from being heavy and causing neck and back pain, they also often caught on fire, similar to crinoline.

4. Arsenic Dresses

4. Arsenic Dresses

The poisonous substance gave dresses a beautiful green hue. But over weeks of wear, it would cause painful sores on the skin that touched the fabric, with the potential for the poison to be ultimately fatal.

5. Powdered Wigs

5. Powdered Wigs

As elegant as they appear in paintings, the strands were often covered in beef lard and rarely cleaned. This caused outbreaks of itchy lice or, even worse, four-legged critters crawling in for a snack and taking a painful bite of the scalp.

6. Lead Makeup

6. Lead Makeup

Fair skin and bright red lips were all the rage in the 18th century, something they achieved with lead in their lipstick, face wash and powder. This led to several cases of agonizing symptoms of poison and even death.

7. Tapeworms

7. Tapeworms

As you can see, the icky insects were advertised as an easy way to drop a few pounds, which often caused severe infections instead.

8. Deadly Nightshade

8. Deadly Nightshade

Also known as “belladonna,” which literally translates to “beautiful woman,” women would add painful drops of the toxic plant extract into their eyes to dilate them for a seductive yet innocent look.

9. Dimple Machines

9. Dimple Machines

Well, she certainly doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself, does she? This wildly uncomfortable device was invented back in 1936 to help those without the charming indentations attempt to achieve the look.

10. Leeches

10. Leeches

This was a popular method of attaining the always sought-after pale skin by draining blood. It might not be as bad as putting lead on your face, but many women described it as being painful like a wasp sting.

11. Plucked Hairlines

11. Plucked Hairlines

Queen Elizabeth was quite the trendsetter. Not only were women powdering their faces, but she also inspired them to make their forehead more elongated by painfully plucking the hair, something she did herself on a daily basis.

12. Mouches

12. Mouches

Beauty marks have always been a sought after attribute. Rather than dotting their face with some eyeliner, 16th century women glued on faux beauty marks that left them with scars and terrible skin conditions.

Did we miss one of the most painful practices from back in the day? Let us know and be sure to SHARE with your friends!