Victorian Beauty Trends That Could Have Killed You Back Then

Josephine Thompson


Fashion trends come and go, and they bring with themselves the strangest ideas and materials. For example, ancient Egyptians would wear cones of scented tallow on their heads when going to important events. The idea was for tallow to melt during the event and to spread the scents all around you.

They also used make up that had lead in it (or was it a thing with Romans?), so you know that harmful fashion trends go a ways back. But did you know what period had some of the most insane nonsense going? Victorian England. So let's have a laugh at some of the beauty tips that probably killed people back then.


Tuberculosis Beauty

Tuberculosis was a fatal disease during the Victorian Era (and is fatal if untreated these days) which disrupted breathing to the point that you died. However, tuberculosis sufferers displayed pale skin, thin waists, as well as red lips - all fashionable bits at the time, which lead to women contracting TB to be beautiful..



Arsenic baths

Victorians loved pale skin, since that showed that you're not some peasant scrub who has to work outside. Arsenic, a dangerous poison, can bleach the skin. That's why Victorian ladies visited arsenic spring baths at spas.



Makeup With Lead And Radium

One can never get too far from lead in the human history of slowly poisoning ourselves. So the Victorian ladies used make up - powders, face paint, lotions - to make it as white as possible... and the make up contained poisonous lead and radioactive radium.



Carmine And Ammonia Blend Lip Paint

Red lips have always been a classic, but commercials lipstick wasn't really a thing back in the Victorian era. Ladies used to buy lip paint from pharmacies or general stores. Said lip paint contained carmine from crushed bodies of cochineal insects (caused some allergic reactions) and poisonous ammonia that was mixed in when insects were crushed and boiled.



Corsets: Impairing Breathing, Moving Organs

The Victorian woman wanted a curvy, hourglass figure and corsets were just the thing to make your non-comformist body bend to whims of fashion. But the tight corsets, worn for hours and hours, caused shortness of breath and permanent deformities. Also, don't forget that you're already short of breath because of all the TB you contracted.



Arsenic Complexion Wafers

Arsenic baths are for people who want to go outside – the real sun-shy Victorian Era lady could just eat arsenic wafers to get that pale, translucent skin.



Mercury Eye Paints

Victorian ladies also wanted men to notice their eyes, so they used eyeliners and shadows... that also contained mercury, lead and antimony oxide, all poisonous to you.



Eye Drops

Nightshade is a super poisonous plant, and it causes dilation of the pupils. Since Victorian age considered large pupils to be more attractive, women used nightshade drops before going out to party.



Hoop Skirt The OSHA Problem

Hoop skirts were an integral part of the whole hourglass figure thing. Unfortunately, they were a real danger when going up or down steep Victorian stairs (those hoops don't bent) and just generally walking around as they could catch fire from the ubiquitous candles (no electrical lighting back then!).



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