10 Old School Beauty Treatments We Can't Believe Existed

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Today, us girls are increasingly aware of where our products come from, so natch, we also have a heightened awareness of what we're smearing and patting on our faces. Using makeup with chemicals like DMDM Hydantoin and Imidazolidinyl Urea - formaldahyde releasers which have been proven to cause dermatitis with short-term use - is something that we try to avoid.

But women didn't always have Wiki at their fingertips or a bevy of scientific research available on their phones. Back in those days, ladies put some seriously harmful (and sometimes straight-up nasty) crap on their skin. It's crazy what girls throughout history have done, all in the name of beauty!

1. Leeches

When super pale skin was en vogue, ladies let the bloodsuckers bite down to lighten their complexion. Gross AF.

2. Belladonna Eye Drops

Pretty name, dangerous plant. Also called deadly nightshade, this botanical was used by Italian girls during the Renaissance period to enlarge their pupils, but those who did, ran the risk of blindness. However, it's still used today by optometrists in safe preparations when your pupils are dilated.
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3. Rhino Horn Skin Cream

An ancient Chinese medicinal practice incorporated ground rhino horns in healing agents. A rhino's horn is made from almost 100 percent keratin, the same substance as your outer layer of skin, which also plays a major role in your skin's healing properties. Sadly, rhinos are still hunted for their body parts, even though their numbers are hovering dangerously close to extinction.

4. Whale Blubber Lipstick

As recent as the 20th century, cosmetic companies used whale blubber in lipstick. Decades ago, finding makeup without "animal byproducts" wasn't as easy as it is today.

5. Whale Poop Perfume

Nicknamed the "gold of the sea," ambergris is a waxy substance created in a sperm whale's intestines to help it break down sharp objects. Its unique smell is used in expensive fragrances (Marie Antoinette was a fan) and a pound of it can rack in about $10,000. #poopbythepound?
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6. Arsenic Skin Cream

Ladies of the Victorian era made a concoction of arsenic, vinegar and chalk to whiten their skin and reduce wrinkles. Arsenic is poison and routinely causes deaths from organ failure.

7. Lead Foundation

In the 17th century, ceruse, a makeup made from white lead, calcium carbonate and hydroxide, was used to achieve a creamy pale complexion, but took out many with lead poisoning.

8. Sour Milk & Watermelon Juice Acne Wash

Both of these make-at-home kitchen remedies were popular in America in the 1890s. We get it; we've been desperate to zap zits, too.
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9. Black Lacquered Teeth

Pearly whites haven't always been the gold standard: During Japan's Meiji period, a girl would rub a pomegranate rind against her teeth as a primer, followed by a dye made from iron filings and the gallnuts of the Japanese sumac tree. So let me see your grill?

10. The Tapeworm Diet

This might be the nastiest item on the list. During the 1800s, English women could opt to take a pill filled with tapeworm larvae. The worm would hatch and eat the extra calories in your digestive track, and when you were done, you had to have the tapeworm removed. Uh, we'll pass - tapeworms can grow up to 20 feet long.


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