People will do almost anything to look and feel young and attractive which is why the beauty industry is thriving. And it doesn’t matter if the trends are incredibly strange, as long as others are following them—you’re likely to jump on the bandwagon. However, when you look back in history, there have been some very weird beauty practices in the past that have left us puzzled. Suntan vending machines and using a literal iron to iron hair are just the tip of the beauty iceberg.

Bored Panda has collected some of the best vintage photos of women doing very peculiar things, all in the name of beauty. So scroll on down, upvote your fave photos, and let us know which of these activities you personally thought were the most bizarre, dear Pandas. Oh, and be sure to let us know which modern beauty practices you think are objectively weird! According to Forbes, the global beauty industry is worth 532 billion dollars. The US is the world’s largest beauty market with around a fifth of the share. While China is in second place and Japan is in third place.

To learn more about the history of beauty and the beauty industry, Bored Panda reached out to Dr. Jane Nicholas from St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo. According to Dr. Nicholas, the global beauty industry has grown “substantially” over the 20th century. “Its expansion reveals the importance of beauty in people’s lives as it shapes their identities, especially in regard to gender.”

#1

A Full-Faced Swimming Mask Helped Protect Women’s Skin From The Sun, 1920s

A Full-Faced Swimming Mask Helped Protect Women’s Skin From The Sun, 1920s

Hulton Archive Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

mom pick me up im scared

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#2

A Woman Having A Seam Painted Onto Her Leg, To Make It Appear That She Is Wearing Stockings, 1926

A Woman Having A Seam Painted Onto Her Leg, To Make It Appear That She Is Wearing Stockings, 1926

Fox Photos Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

...no comment

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#3

Rita Perchetti And Gloria Rossi Try Out Their New Portable Bathhouse So They Can Change Their Clothes After Sunbathing On Coney Island Beach, 1938

Rita Perchetti And Gloria Rossi Try Out Their New Portable Bathhouse So They Can Change Their Clothes After Sunbathing On Coney Island Beach, 1938

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itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

okay then

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Dr. Nicholas explained to Bored Panda that modern culture is a visual culture. Meanwhile, modern living meant finding yourself in an increasingly-dense but anonymous city. And that means that appearance becomes more important than ever. After all, when you’re a stranger to someone, they judge you by your appearance.

“So how one appears is often presumed to be who one is. Historically, the rise of the modern city was seen as the place of quick judgments on appearances in places that were crowded but also built for observation. Evaluation by one’s appearance, then, took on new importance. This has only intensified,” the history expert explained.

#4

10th Century Chinese Tradition - Foot Binding

10th Century Chinese Tradition - Foot Binding

Jo Farrell / Living History Project Report

Desiré Yen
Community Member
4 months ago

I'm Chinese and my late gran did this to her feet. The pain she must have endured just to have "pretty" small feet. 😔

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#5

Faceless Beauty Contest In Cliftonville, 1936

Faceless Beauty Contest In Cliftonville, 1936

Austrian Archives Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

But, why?

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#6

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

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Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Women are still doing it today. Those with frizzy hair flatten it with a hair-straightening appliance.

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She pointed out that beauty is (at the same time) deeply personal, as well as culturally driven. That means that the beauty industry is relational to the consumer.

“It provides products and images for consumption and how consumers take those up largely determine its success. Beauty products and practices have to resonate with consumers, who are not simply dupes but often thoughtful and measured in what they want and can consume,” Dr. Nicholas said.

“Gaps in services and products lead to further innovation. Throughout the twentieth century, for example, women of color struggled to be appropriately represented and struggled to find appropriate products. In multiple ways, the industry was forced to grow and expand to respond properly to their needs. Black entrepreneurs often led the way,” she said.

#7

Before The Invention Of Sun-Screen In The Mid 1940s, Bathers Wore Garments Like This Freckleproof Cape To Protect Themselves From The Sun. The Cape Also Features Built-In Sunglasses

Before The Invention Of Sun-Screen In The Mid 1940s, Bathers Wore Garments Like This Freckleproof Cape To Protect Themselves From The Sun. The Cape Also Features Built-In Sunglasses

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

Lol

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#8

French Breast Washer, 1930s

French Breast Washer, 1930s

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Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Why?

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#9

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Easyart/PA Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

She have beautiful face, must say

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It’s no surprise that some vintage beauty procedures, treatments, and practices seem strange to us now. “When dislocated from their context, what was typical in one time period seems strange in another. Today, we see the highly filtered, fully made up selfie as quite ordinary. When you pause to consider it though, it is interesting to think about how those reflect changes in technology (both digital and in cosmetics), as well as in dominant presumptions of what is considered beautiful. It can also be reflective of the democratization of techniques in lighting and makeup application that were historically reserved for insiders within modeling. Now, anyone can use them.”

Dr. Nicholas said that beauty is deeply interwoven with the wider social and cultural context. That means that it reflects more than just beauty itself. “Using X-rays for hair removal, for example, also reflects the fact that technology emerges before the full impact of its use is known,” she gave an example.

The history expert also told Bored Panda that we can expect some of the practices that we take for granted today to seem outdated and peculiar in the decades to come. “It’s quite ordinary today to inject a form of botulism into your face or to dress in the skin of another animal. Over time, though, as our collective beliefs and values change, these ordinary acts might come to be seen as extraordinary.”

#10

Tape Worm Diet, 1900s

Tape Worm Diet, 1900s

Unknown Report

Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

I will say that this is worse than having leeches suck your blood in the hopes of improving blood flow. Tape worms can attach themselves to other internal organs and other parts of the body. If they want to leave a body, they will exit where they please. It is not a pretty sight. The damage can also be quite extensive.

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#11

Freckle Removal. A Complicated Apparatus Is Employed. Eyes Are Covered With A Special, Air-Tight Piece, And The Nostrils Filled In. Breathing Is Done Through A Special Tube. Sensitive Parts Of The Face Must Be Treated Separately, 1930

Freckle Removal. A Complicated Apparatus Is Employed. Eyes Are Covered With A Special, Air-Tight Piece, And The Nostrils Filled In. Breathing Is Done Through A Special Tube. Sensitive Parts Of The Face Must Be Treated Separately, 1930

Mansell Report

Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Imagine getting rid of something as lovely as freckles.

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#12

A Perm In Germany In 1929

A Perm In Germany In 1929

Everett Collection Report

Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Why not look like the bride of Frankenstein's monster?

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What I find the weirdest, personally, is the size of the hairdryers in the past. They’re absolutely humongous and they look like something straight out of a sci-fi flick.

The very first hairdryer was invented in 1890 by French stylist Alexander Godefroy. His seated version had a bonnet that attached to none other than the chimney pipe of a gas stove. You read that right, dear Pandas! Imagine going to a beauty salon and being told to put one of those stove-connected bonnets on your head.

We got the very first handheld hairdryers around 1920 due to technological innovations at the time. However, these were nothing like our modern-day equivalent: they weighed around 2 pounds (that’s 0.9 kilograms) and were very difficult to use. They were also prone to overheating and electrocuted people from time to time.

#13

A Policeman Judges An Ankle Competition At Hounslow, London, 1930

A Policeman Judges An Ankle Competition At Hounslow, London, 1930

Prismatic Pictures Report

Capelli rosa e patate
Community Member
4 months ago

“Yes these are the winning pair of ankles; congrats little lady. NOW COVER THOSE YOU LOOK LIKE A WHORE”

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#14

Max Factor's 1931 Ice Mask

Max Factor's 1931 Ice Mask

International News Soundphoto Report

Steve Barnett
Community Member
4 months ago

'Human test results of W***y Wonker’s Everlasting Gobstopper proved disastrous'

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#15

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

ahtisham-ahmed Report

Tiny Dynamine
Community Member
4 months ago

I suppose a blow torch is going to have a similar effect.

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Before you rush to poke fun at these vintage beauty practices, keep in mind two things. First of all, even if something is trendy, far from every person follows the newly-minted flavor of the month beauty techniques.

Second of all, if you think that we’ve ‘advanced’ much beyond silliness, turn on the TV and flip to an infomercial channel! The things you’ll see there are just as weird (and maybe even weirder).

#16

Contestants In The Miss Lovely Eyes Beauty Pageant In Florida Wearing Masks To Obscure The Rest Of Their Faces, 1930

Contestants In The Miss Lovely Eyes Beauty Pageant In Florida Wearing Masks To Obscure The Rest Of Their Faces, 1930

FPG Report

Some Cool Guy
Community Member
4 months ago

creepy

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#17

Customers Have Their Legs Painted At A Store In Croydon, London, 1941

Customers Have Their Legs Painted At A Store In Croydon, London, 1941

G W HALES Report

Adam C
Community Member
4 months ago

Was stocking back in the days really that uncomfortable?

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#18

A Traditional Japanese Sign Of Beauty- Black Teeth, 17th – 19th Centuries

A Traditional Japanese Sign Of Beauty- Black Teeth, 17th – 19th Centuries

Pierre Dieulefils Report

Laugh or not
Community Member
4 months ago

Women used to put a white powder on their faces (made with rice, not lead) and that would make the teeth look yellow. So they dyed them black instead.

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#19

X-Ray Of Female Torso With Corset (Left) And Female Torso Without A Corset (Right), 1908

X-Ray Of Female Torso With Corset (Left) And Female Torso Without A Corset (Right), 1908

nyamcenterforhistory.org Report

Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Who needs to breathe, right?

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#20

Hair Dryer, 1920s

Hair Dryer, 1920s

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

I would be afraid to stand in front of that

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#21

Wooden Swimsuits, 1929

Wooden Swimsuits, 1929

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itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

but why?

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#22

Rubber Beauty Masks Used To Get Rid Of Wrinkles In The 1920s

Rubber Beauty Masks Used To Get Rid Of Wrinkles In The 1920s

Wellcome Collection Report

ML
Community Member
4 months ago

Still present today. Look up gimp mask :D

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#23

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

vintage.everyday Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

nom nom

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#24

The Bra Claimed To Develop And Strengthen The Bust And Was Designed To Vibrate While The Person Wearing It Was At Work. Brussel, 1971

The Bra Claimed To Develop And Strengthen The Bust And Was Designed To Vibrate While The Person Wearing It Was At Work. Brussel, 1971

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Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

What exactly in a breast was it strengthening?

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#25

You Have A Beautiful Face But Your Nose?

You Have A Beautiful Face But Your Nose?

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Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Ah, the days before rhinoplasty...

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#26

Dimple Machine In 1936

Dimple Machine In 1936

Unknown Report

Downunderdude
Community Member
4 months ago

OK, I've got an idea... So, you attach wire to the inside of your cheeks (oh, I don't know. Superglue, maybe. Details. I'll work it out later). Then you wrap the wire around your teeth. Brilliant, huh? I'm going to be SO rich!

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
4 months ago

2 cheek piercings and a rubber band, that's al you need. I'm going to be even richer.

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Softsquatch
Community Member
4 months ago

i can imagine something like this being sold on wish

Lunatick
Community Member
4 months ago

Man and woman have been trying to change what God gave them since day 1.

Elaine Mattingly
Community Member
4 months ago

Don't fix what is not broken.

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H Edwards
Community Member
4 months ago

I saw a tv show where a girl got surgery to give herself dimples. They looked awful, poor thing.

Andrew Gibb
Community Member
4 months ago

Seems like women in the 1930's wanted to look like Kirk Douglas

Jessica Wilson
Community Member
4 months ago

Oh, yeah. That looks natural.

Pansexual (In theory)
Community Member
4 months ago

Dimple, no dimple, dimple, no dimple

Nicole Tomme
Community Member
4 months ago

Comfy.

BusLady
Community Member
4 months ago

Or try pulling out all the back teeth.

Molly Block
Community Member
4 months ago

So does facial piercings. Ha.

Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
4 months ago

I've seen all these pics several times before except for this one. (I always look at creepy/weird photos from the past on YouTube. Most of these come up under weird).

WWE Fan
Community Member
2 months ago

I didn’t need that! I have dimples already!

Caroline Driver
Community Member
4 months ago

My daughter wouldn't need this handy dandy device, she was born with dimples.

Teresa Groth
Community Member
4 months ago

CRAP!

Elaine Mattingly
Community Member
4 months ago

Tattoo dimples are cute.

Zakiya Grant
Community Member
4 months ago

Dimples are a genetic deformity...smh

Denise Mclean
Community Member
4 months ago

Probably worked for a day ?

Steve Cruz
Community Member
4 months ago

So LOVELY!

Cathryn Cade
Community Member
4 months ago

Bwahahaha

Patty Leaton
Community Member
4 months ago

mark you hole face

CARRIEMAE MCKELVEY
Community Member
4 months ago

No thank you I have my own dimples

23AClark
Community Member
4 months ago

Oh man.

James F. Wilson Jr.
Community Member
4 months ago

And at the same shop they sold the "penis enhancer" to the husbands.

Demi Falsetta
Community Member
4 months ago

ewwWW

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Lynn Gold
Community Member
4 months ago

My "dimples" are now ugly lines on my face. :-(

Suzanne Dunne
Community Member
4 months ago

Ha ha ha

Zakiya Grant
Community Member
4 months ago

Dimples are a genetic deformity...smh

Elaine Mattingly
Community Member
4 months ago

Dimples are NOT a deformity! Red hair doesn't make a person ill tempered, a birth mark doesn't mean you're cursed and if you pull up a four leaf clover and press it in a book it will NOT bring you good luck, it was bad luck for the clover to have it's life cut short. I think your statement may have pushed me over an edge of some sort.

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ML
Community Member
4 months ago

Only temporary solution. Hope it didn't damage your muscles to be permanent.

Leodavinci
Community Member
4 months ago

Not likely. Dimples are a facial defect.

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#27

Women Who Had Just Given Birth To A Baby Weren't Prohibited To Smoke In The Hospital. 1940s Ad

Women Who Had Just Given Birth To A Baby Weren't Prohibited To Smoke In The Hospital. 1940s Ad

Unknown Report

Downunderdude
Community Member
4 months ago

Here, kid. Have a passive.

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#28

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

This is a joke, I'm sure

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#29

A Young Woman Holds Her Arms And Legs In Four Water Bathes With Electric Current, To Improve Blood Circulation, Circa 1938

A Young Woman Holds Her Arms And Legs In Four Water Bathes With Electric Current, To Improve Blood Circulation, Circa 1938

vintage.everyday Report

Isabella R.W.
Community Member
4 months ago

Ouch

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#30

Taking Precise Measurements Of A Beautiful Young Woman's Head And Face With A Contraption Like An Instrument Of Torture, 1933

Taking Precise Measurements Of A Beautiful Young Woman's Head And Face With A Contraption Like An Instrument Of Torture, 1933

Hulton Archive Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

Is he making Frankenstein's bride?

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Note: this post originally had 43 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.