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Putting on our all-seeing, judgemental hindsight helmets, it can safely be said fashion expectations have played a cruel role over the past 100 years in the extremes to which women are driven to stand out on the physical appearance front. We know – the argument can easily be made that not much has changed today compared to the early-to-mid 20th century, but can anyone in more recent history claim they’ve been coerced into wearing a device over their head that promises to change the atmospheric pressure around their face to stimulate circulation? We didn’t think so.
At the same time women were wearing ridiculously over-sized hats with stuffed birds adorning (or should we say nesting?) on them, they were also strapping on uncomfortable masks to help re-shape their noses. If a woman really wanted to take things to the next level she could also try out the Dimple Maker, which made its debut in 1936. How could forcing bolts into your cheeks several times a day be bad for you, right? It took the American Medical Association 10 years before it declared the Dimple Maker to be dangerous and basically useless. Unless you wanted cancer – the one thing the AMA said the Dimple Maker might be good for.
Although we’ve all heard the phrase, “beauty is only skin deep,” some early beauty inventions could fry, freeze, and poke women’s skin, all for the sake of perfecting an image.
Weird beauty inventions from the past include an ice cube mask that was said to heal hangovers, a vacuum helmet that “aided” with complexion, and even a dimple maker that was supposed to poke dimples into cheeks. It’s fascinating to venture back in time and view odd beauty devices that women willingly used – even though some of these wacky inventions should have appeared in a torture chamber.
Taking extreme measures to achieve beauty is nothing new. Take the Ancient Egyptians, who in addition to utilizing natural beauty remedies like ochre and mud, also used eye makeup made out of metals that caused insomnia and mental disorders. Or the Ancient Romans who thought painting themselves pale with a lead mixture that caused infertility and skin issues was scholarly and attractive. And remember foot binding that originated in Imperial China? Women would painfully wrap up their feet to shrink them all for the sake of “beauty” and to display status.
Fast forward to the 1920s, 30s, and 40s which were equally unkind. Apparently, during these decades, there was no fear of risking pain to attain beauty. Not only that, but these beauty inventions looked incredibly odd, and are difficult for our elders to explain to their grandkids.
These strange gadgets will trick you into thinking that you are viewing a horror movie nightmare, when in reality, they were beauty treatments found in salons. There’s no question that these ten odd beauty inventions women had to use in the past will scare your socks off.
1. Freckle Freeze
Want to look like a robotic zombie? Then try the Freckle Freeze. Invented by Italian physicist Dr. Matarasso, this freaky technique involved metal rods that protected women’s eyes and a breathing tube so women wouldn’t inhale carbon dioxide. This wacky invention used dry ice to freeze off freckles one by one. Ouch, you’re probably running for the closet.
Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide (that also keeps your steak frozen in the mail) maintains a temperature of -109 degrees and burns your skin after prolonged exposure after it solidifies your skin’s tissue. . . Lovely.
But this didn’t stop women of the 1930s from paying money to look freakier than Hannibal Lecter while their freckles were frozen off. The good news, the carbon dioxide pen was only on each freckle for about three seconds before moving onto the next, so you could take a quick breather in between each one.