Is there anything a woman won’t do for beauty? Hardly anything, if history is taken into account.
Through the ages, lovely ladies have slapped lead on their flawless skins, dipped their hair in camel urine and rubbed their lips with crushed bugs – all to achieve a gorgeous appearance.
Here are some of the bizarre – and sometimes deadly – beauty secrets of women from ancient times to the recent past:
1. Lovely ladies of the Middle East used to grind up lead – which causes metal poisoning – and apply it to their lashes, eyebrows and eyelids.
2. In ancient Babylonia, unwanted facial hair was sanded off with a rough pumice stone.
3. Women in Edwardian England would gladly swallow a slimy tapeworm to keep themselves slim and trim. The parasite would digest most of the food the women ate, and it also destroyed their health.
4. Eating arsenic was another way to achieve beauty discovered by Englishwomen. The deadly poison – used in the 19th century – gave the skin an interesting glow while it shortened the life span.
5. Beautiful blonde highlights in the hair were achieved by Venetian ladies who poured lion urine on their tresses before sitting out in the sun.
6. Early Japanese geishas and Kabuki actors used nightingale droppings to remove the thick make-up from their faces.
7. Roman ladies rubbed brown seaweed on their faces as rouge, which did them no harm. But the white powder made from lead they rubbed on their faces gave them a slow death by lead poisoning as surely as it delighted their admirers.
8. Italian ladies of the past used to apply deadly nightshade to enhance their eyes. The poison dilates the pupils and makes people’s peepers look enormous and glowing.
9. Arabian ladies loved sleek and shiny hair, so they used camel urine to dip their raven-black hair in.
10. In the England of Queen Elizabeth I, great beauties of the time owed the rich red color of their lips to bugs. The squashed remains of insects were rubbed on the mouth for a ruby-red luster.
11. Face painting with white lead powder was also popular in Elizabeth’s time. The beauty secret caused the premature demise of a number of 16th century lovelies.
12. Crocodile dung made into a paste with donkey’s milk kept Cleopatra’s skin looking lovely in the Egyptian heat. She used it as a face mask – when Caesar wasn’t around.