They say that beauty is pain, and modern makeup lovers understand that. After all, is there anything worse than sticking yourself in the eye with your mascara wand, or accidentally burning your forehead with a curling iron?
Actually, yes, these historical beauty trends are way worse. Before scientific advancements and FDA approvals, ingredients like arsenic, lead, and Lysol were the norm in beauty products - which made for some literally killer makeup. Beauty hacks that could kill you included using radium for a brighter smile and even ingesting tapeworms to lose weight.
Forget, “Beauty is pain.” With these historical trends, beauty kills.
Using Lead To Create A Smoky Eye
No one knew how to rock a smoky eye quite like the Ancient Egyptians. Their go-to eye liner was kohl, a black powder that contains lead. We know now that lead is deadly and should never be applied near the eyes - but the ancient Egyptians weren't privy to that fact. Many people then (and since) have suffered lead poisoning from using kohl-based eyeliners and mascaras. The first non-toxic mascara wasn't even invented until 1920 (thanks, Rimmel!).
Douching With Lysol
The most popular douche on the market from 1940 to 1960 was actually Lysol, if you can believe it. Besides being advertised as an effective douche guaranteed to make husbands fall back in love with their wives (WTF?), it was also the go-to method of birth control before contraceptives were available. It sounds obvious now, but Lysol was not effective in either case - in fact, it's reported to have caused dozens of deaths. This report claims that 193 women died from Lysol douching.
Arsenic Was Used To Get Rid Of Body Hair
Disdain for body hair on women isn't a modern thing at all. Women as far back as the 16th century have worried about body hair making them look "disagreeable and argumentative, muscular, and ugly" (that's a direct quote from a doctor of the time, by the way). Their solution? Arsenic. A mixture of the deadly poison was to be rubbed onto the offending area to remove body hair. One recipe even instructed, "When the skin feels hot, wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn’t come off." Ouch.
Corsets Were A Potential Death Trap
We're all familiar with corsets - women's undergarments that utilized stiff whale bones to create the illusion of an impossibly-tiny waist, popular from the 1500s to the early 1900s. Over time, tight-lacing a corset could actually permanently change the shape of a woman's body by deforming the ribs and spine. The most common side effect of tight-lacing was fainting spells (it was hard to breathe properly, since corsets constricted the lungs), but they also caused poor digestion, which, over time, could lead to death. So, basically, corsets are a literal death trap.