Today the global beauty industry is worth $532 billion and our demand for things to improve our looks feels like it has never been bigger. But the wish to look our best is as old as history itself, and people in the past were just as eager to go great lengths to fit beauty standards of the time. And trust me, they were heckin’ weird. Like weird squared.

The TikToker Zachary Margolis has collected some of the most eyebrow-raising, obscure, over-the-top and plain dangerous historical beauty trends that he shared in a series of viral videos for his “Offbeat History” account.

From Romans whitening their teeth with urine to 18th-century women sculpting their enormous wigs with lard, it makes you wonder whether today’s beauty favorites like the ‘no makeup’ makeup look, laminated brows, and brightly colored hair will look just as freaky in hundreds of years.

@offbeathistory

Obscure Beauty Trends 💄Do not try these at home. #makeuproutine #beautytips #learn

♬ Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists
#1

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the 19th century many women ate deadly arsenic wafers to whiten and even out their complexions. Some of the side effect include cancer, baldness, epilepsy. In 1902 you could actually buy arsenic wafers from Sears.

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Gabbinzola
Community Member
12 months ago

The fact that it says "safe" in the title... 🙄

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#2

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the mid-1920's, a bronze, suntanned complexion became popular after Coco Chanel fell asleep on her yacht on the French Riviera. The suntan became a status symbol for a person who could afford sunny vacations, especially for those privileged enough to travel during the winter.

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Sofia Di Tutti
Community Member
12 months ago

Before withe skin was considered "noble" because poor were forced to work outside and got tanned...

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#3

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the middle ages the forehead was considered the most beautiful part of the woman's face. Many women removed their eyelashes to accentuate their foreheads. They also plucked their hairlines and eyebrows to achieve a long and oval face.

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Aski Markup
Community Member
12 months ago

Man, I woulda been the belle of the ball.

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#4

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now To white their teeth, Romans would rinse their mouth with urine. Specifically urine shipped in from Portugal.

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Otter
Community Member
12 months ago

Well-aged urine that hadn't been refrigerated during transport, because refrigeration didn't exist! Tasty!

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#5

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the 18th century, before invention of hairspray, women would use lard to sculpt their wigs. Yes, lard. One of the downsides is that the wig would become a literal rat's nest. Sometimes rats would live in the wig for weeks. Women had to sleep with cages around their heads to keep the rats away.

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Otter
Community Member
12 months ago

And at least some people whitened the wigs with flour, which meant they were basically wearing a pancake on their heads instead of hair. You bet the bugs loved it!

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#6

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In pre-revolution France, accentuated veins were all the rage. Some people would color their veins with blue pencil to make them pop. Others would use leaches to make their veins more noticeable.

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Andy Acceber
Community Member
12 months ago

Visible veins meant they didn't work in the sun. It was a sign of status.

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#7

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now During the Japanese Edo period, blackened teeth were popular amongst aristocrats and married women. Blackened teeth were considered a sign of beauty and the practice helped preserve teeth into old age. In 1870, this practice was banned by the Japanese government. Blackening teeth wasn't just popular in Japan, and some people still practice this today.

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Toko Danganronpa
Community Member
12 months ago

I'd like to know who practices it today...

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#8

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In 1936, Isabella Gilbert invented the Dimple-Maker. The machine consisted of a spring that fit around the face and two tiny knobs that pressed into the cheeks. I don't know what Isabella was thinning but the machine didn't work.

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Softsquatch
Community Member
12 months ago

can totally imagine this being sold on wish today, and people buying it

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#9

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In ancient Rome many women would moisturize with the sweat of gladiators. Whiles of sweat were sold as souvenirs outside the fights. The sweat was thought to be an aphrodisiac.

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Prilsy
Community Member
12 months ago

Well the sweat probably had tons of pheromones so that makes sense

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#10

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the 1800s, eyelash transplants were all the rage. A specialist would sow the hair directly into the eyelid with a needle.

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Toko Danganronpa
Community Member
12 months ago

That's sound eyewful!

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#11

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In ancient Greece the uni-brow was considered the sign of purity and intelligence. It was ideal to have eyebrows that melded together in the middle. Some women would darken their eyebrows with powder, while others would wear fake eyebrows made from goat's hair.

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Jayne Kyra
Community Member
12 months ago

Give me two weeks and I would be stunning in ancient Greece.

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#12

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the 1400s, Italian women wanted to have thin lips that were barely there. The paintings at the time didn't highlight or emphasize the lips in any way.

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Jo Choto
Community Member
12 months ago

There has to be a century somewhere where I would have been considered attractive!

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#13

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now Shortly after the invention of the x-ray machine, people used the machine to treat acne, eczema and for hair removal. Some of the side effects included atrophy, ulcerations, and cancer.

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Toko Danganronpa
Community Member
12 months ago

Some side effects include: DEATH

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#14

14 "Obscure Beauty Trends" Throughout History That Sound So Bizarre Now In the 1920s the portable hair dryer came on to the market. This was a more convenient alternative to the bulky hair dryers of the time. The device was very dangerous though and would cause burns, electrocutions, and death.

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M O'Connell
Community Member
12 months ago

If anyone is wondering why, appliances of the time did not have a chassis ground connection (no third pin), nor did they have polarized plugs (there was a 50/50 chance of the metal chassis being live at mains voltage depending on how you plugged it in). This hadn't previously been a problem because 'regular people' hadn't been using electrical appliances much prior to the 1920s.

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