Friday, July 25, 2008

10 Beauty Tips From 100 Years Ago

Oh I love lists, and this week a few good ones went around. The Beauty Brains did the 10 Strangest Ingredients Used in Cosmetics. Gretchen Rubin shared 19 Tips on Cheering Yourself Up-- From 200 Years Ago, and someone wrote their take on the 10 Strangest Beauty Tips of All Time, citing a tip from my book. It says a lot about the way I spend my time that I found the other items on that last list pretty tame. I collect old beauty books, so I pulled a few from my shelf that were published in 1908.

10 Beauty Tips From 100 Years Ago

1. Bear Oil Hair Tonic
" One of the finest hair tonics, if not the best known, is this: I pint High Wine, 1 pint Water, 1 pint Bear's Oil. By applying it to the scalp, it not only stops the hair falling out, almost at first application, but it will restore gray hair to natural color, and cause the hair to thicken."

2. Corset Budgeting
"A French woman wears a fifty dollar dress and a fifteen dollar corset, An American woman wears a two hundred dollar dress and a two dollar and a-half corset."

3. Meat Facials
"Many Parisian ladies, in the secrecy of their own chambers, on retiring at night, or some part of the day, bind their faces with thin slices of raw beef or veal. For several years a popular lady has used this remedy to feed the tissues of the face, with remarkable results. At thirty-eight she has the complexion and skin of a girl of eighteen."

4. Lard Primer
"A good base for makeup is rendered lard, made by pouring boiling water on lard in a basin... It is usually scented with oil verbena, though attar of roses is pleasanter, but more expensive."

5. Pucker Your Lips
"The first thing to consider is the lips. From very ancient times lemon has been the favorite means of promoting their redness; a slice of lemon or lime daily rubbed on the lips just to cause tingling leaves them pleasantly red, provided they are not cracked."

6. Poison for Bright Eyes
"The prescription of this ancient beautifier is 1-100 of a grain of arsenic and two grains of black pepper. One of these pills should be taken after dinner. It clears the complexion and brings a ruddy glow to the lips and cheeks, but should only be taken when the tongue is uncoated by fur in the morning, and never if there is any tendency to redness or roughness of the skin, or by those who suffer from flatulence."

7. Poor Bunnies
"There lie many great veins, all conducting upward toward the heart. If a tame rabbit is taken and held in the upright position for half an hour, it becomes unconscious. More interesting however is a second experiment, in which the animal's abdomen was tightly bandaged, It was then found that standing upright had not the slightest effect upon it. The conclusion that must inevitably be forced upon us all is that binding the waist has a definite effect on the circulation of the blood."

8. Sandpaper Palms
"The best way to polish or to complete the polishing of the nails it to bend the fingers on to the palm of the hand by bending the knuckles and first joint while keeping the last joint straight, and to rub briskly the nails on the palm of your other hand."

9. Take Your Temperature
"Complexion Improvers: Most of the preparations sold under this or similar names contain corrosive sublimate, perchloride of mercury. This powerful drug must be used with caution, as it produces marked alteration in, and hardening of, the skin... We can, fortunately, minimize or entirely remove the undesirable action of this drug by adding a little yolk of egg to the lotion."

10. Nice Girls Are Bustiest
"Every well sexed woman desires a beautiful, well-rounded bust, and I am sure you are not an exception. As the emotions affect to a very great extent the female organs, and as these in turn affect the bust, it is essential, as you doubtless already understand, to refrain from indulgence in anger, grief, worry, jealousy, etc."

(1-3 from Amy Ayer's, Facts for Ladies; 4,-9 from Cora Brown Potter's The Secrets of Beauty and Mysteries of Health; 10 from My Lady Beautiful, Or, The Perfection of Womanhood by Alice M. Long. Photo is the actress Sarah Bernhardt, demonstrating an exercise for posture in Ms. Long's book)