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5 Bizarre Beauty Trends from Back in the Day

From yesterday’s powdered wigs to today’s unicorn eye makeup, cosmetic enhancement has always been a part of human culture. While current trends are more likely to be colorful than questionable, in the past there were a fair number of decidedly strange, even dangerous trends.

To help you appreciate how far we’ve come, we thought we’d share a few of the more outlandish past fads—and answer back with safer, more effective options to achieve the modern version of said goal. Take a look and laugh (or cry) at what past generations did to achieve their desired looks.

1. Bleeding out for a Snow White complexion

During the Middle Ages, being pale-skinned was associated with affluence—and beauty seekers would drain their blood regularly in attempt to achieve a desired level of pastiness. Their beauty tool of choice? Leeches. Most of us have heard that leeches played a role in medicine in centuries past, but these wriggly little critters played double duty as a skin treatment.

A sane alternative: While no one strives for an unhealthy pallor these days, many of us would like to have more even skin tone, free of spots and marks. Fortunately, there are plenty of Inland Empire skincare treatments, such as Dr. Haiavy’s medical-grade creams, chemical peels, and laser treatments, that can reduce sun damage and hyperpigmentation, minimize fine lines and flaws, and even out your skintone with little to no downtime—and absolutely no leeches!

2. The tapeworm diet for weight loss

Many of us have fallen for the grapefruit or cabbage soup diet in hopes of shedding some unwanted weight, but some early 20th century entrepreneurs took the fad diet scheme a bit too far by encouraging dieters to ingest tapeworms as a weight loss trick. Advertisements encouraged popping “sanitary” tapeworms in pill form, right out of a jar.

It didn’t take long for doctors and consumers to realize that this nauseating worm pill did more harm than good. And thankfully, it was soon banned. While some believe the outlandish historical ads for tapeworm pills may be faked, we’ll pass on any worm-related diets, true or false!

A sane alternative: If you’ve tried to lose weight with diet and exercise, but aren’t seeing the results you want, there are safe, effective weight loss options that can help you shed pounds quickly and lead a healthier and more productive life. One new option we’re especially excited about is Obalon, a swallowable balloon system that helps patients feel full faster and naturally eat less, making it much easier to lose weight. Dr. Tower and her Surgical Arts team can talk with you to determine if you are a suitable candidate for this option as part of your weight loss journey.

3. An hourglass shape to die for

For centuries, a tiny waist and high bosom with ample cleavage was considered the ideal feminine figure; however, most women don’t come by a 20-inch waist naturally. Enter the corset. These harsh garments of whalebone and thick fabric certainly shaped a woman’s figure, but women paid the price with dangerous side effects, such as fainting, permanent skeletal deformities, and life-threatening organ damage. While we have come a long way from the body shaping fashions of Baroque times, unfortunately some still practice corseting, or “waist training” in hopes of forcing their bellies into an unnaturally slender shape.

A sane alternative: Modern day body shaping wear like Spanx® is generally a safe way to temporarily smooth bumps and accentuate a feminine figure—but despite what celebs say, skip the corsets. For more lasting improvements in your silhouette, consider a cosmetic surgery procedure combo that can play up your curves in all the right places. For instance, a Brazilian butt lift (liposuction plus fat transfer) can sculpt a slimmer waist and add volume to the butt to accentuate an hourglass shape, while breast augmentation can balance out a bottom-heavy pear shape by adding curves up top. When performed by a qualified, experienced cosmetic surgeon, these are far safer options than waist training that can achieve far more satisfying, predictable results. Dr. Haiavy, Dr. Tower, and Dr. Florin are all proficient in the most recent body contouring techniques.

4. Body contouring via rib removal

And then there were those who took corseting the next level, and tried to achieve a permanently tiny waist by surgically removing the lower ribs—what’s especially frightening is that this weird beauty trend is still practiced occasionally today. However, this is not a safe option to contour the waist—your ribs help protect vital organs, and most reputable cosmetic surgeons consider the procedure too risky to perform for cosmetic reasons.

A sane alternative: A skilled, qualified cosmetic surgeon can offer many safe, proven ways to reshape the torso without getting your ribs involved. Liposuction is a tried-and-true procedure to remove excess fat and sculpt a better shape. VASER 4D Liposelection, the “hi-def” liposuction technique that our Inland Empire cosmetic surgeons perform, can even accentuate muscle definition.

5. Meet the “Beauty Micrometer”

What looks like a scene from the horror movie Hellraiser is actually the “Factor Beauty Micrometer.” This cumbersome device from 1935 was used to measure a person’s facial features. Doing so supposedly would detect facial flaws that weren’t visible to the naked eye (hey, your nose is crooked after all!) and aid in makeup application.

A sane alternative: While there is some basis behind the idea of adjusting makeup techniques to one’s individual features, there’s no need for a contraption that fabricates “flaws”. As far as we are concerned, we are all already beautiful just the way we are. The only concerns about your face, skin or body that need to be addressed are those that bother you—not what someone else, or worse, some scary piece of headgear, points out.

If you would like to change something about your appearance, our experienced cosmetic surgeons are here to help. They offer free consultations for all cosmetic procedures, so you can learn all about your options before committing to any treatment plan.

Any old or new beauty trends that you’ve found especially bizarre? Let us know in the comment section. Questions about procedures for any cosmetic concerns you have? Contact us today!

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