A slightly scary history of Facial Treatments

A slightly scary history of Facial Treatments

27 October 2015

If you thought celebrity favourite the ‘Vampire Facial, where Therapists mix your own blood with Juverderm or Restylane for an anti-ageing effect, sounded gory – just wait until you hear some of the weird and wonderful facials ladies used to endure in the name of beauty!

Nowadays we have the benefits of advanced science to inform our beauty treatments, but that wasn’t always the case. Here’s a brief history of treatments that were popular in days gone by.

  • 1500s

Pale skin was all the rage in the Elizabethan era. A fair complexion that hadn’t been tanned by the sun while working outdoors was thought to represent wealth and status, though ladies at the time had a couple of ill-advised methods for enhancing the look.

Queen Elizabeth and other members of the upper classes were known to use a toxic mixture of white lead and vinegar to lighten their skin. Some women would even draw their own blood to give themselves a faint appearance. Unfortunately it caused significant deterioration to the skin, so teh more you used the more you had to use!

  • 1870s

The latter part of the 19th century saw attention turn from pale to a more youthful complexion. There were a variety of beauty products developed, including Madame Rowley's "Toilet Mask", an overnight mask designed to beautify, bleach and preserve the skin. Unfortunately it also had a tendency to suffocate the wearers skin and cause perspiration. 

  • 1900s

Glowing skin – much as it is today – was greatly desirable in the 1900s.  Unfortunately, the poisonous chemical element Radium had recently been discover and many cosmetics companies began using it in their products unknowingly.  Radium-infused masks were a popular product, promising to restore smoothness and revive a sallow complexion. It is now known Radium is radio-active – so not the ideal substance to be applying to your face!

  • 1930s

A flawless complexion meant even freckles were frowned upon in the 1930s. Sunbathers would wear a freckle-proof cape to avoid speckling their skin and one Doctor even invented a freckle removing treatment that used carbon monoxide to freeze away the spots with a needle. Thankfully the invention of suntan lotion in the 1940 meant this device fell out of use.

  • 1950s

A TV in nearly every household meant Hollywood glamour became attainable to every woman, and so the focus on their physical appearance intensified. Popular treatments included seaweed baths, paraffin treatments and particularly steam facials to help give skin a radiance boost... not too dissimilar to treatments available today.

  • Present Day

Bizarre sounding beauty treatments are far from a relic of the past, we currently use everything from snail slime to bird poo in our cosmetics. But advancements in science have also introduced some highly effective Cosmetic Treatments. Celebrities like Jessica Alba are big fans of Laser Skin Treatments which dramatically improve the tone and texture of your complexion. While supermodels like Naomi Campbell swear by a regular Medical Microdermabrasion exfoliation.

What do you think about the Facial Treatments from the past? Tell us today on Facebook.



Image credit: Kim Kardashian West/ Instagram