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The High Cost of Beauty: Bizarre Skincare Methods Throughout History

People have always worried about their skin. Throughout history, there have been some unusual things used for skin care. Sometimes folks were stretching the use of one product, sometimes they were using what was available and sometimes it’s hard to understand what they were thinking. Even today, there are some weird home remedies for skin ailments.


Dung seems to be the miracle mixture. Excrement from several sources has been used for skin care in one capacity or another. Ancient Egyptians used cow manure for skin problems like eczema. Greeks used crocodile poop as an anti-aging cream. Dung from cats, dogs, pigeons, sheep and other animals has been used to wipe out baldness, stop bleeding, cure intestinal parasites and treat epilepsy.

It seems urine has healing capabilities too. Human and animal urine has been used through the ages as a skin treatment, cauterizing agent and as a pain reliever for jellyfish stings. Some folks swear urine therapy can cure most medical ailments and even prevent dog bites. There must be some element of truth in their belief—urea is commonly used in toothpastes, face cream, skin lotions and chewing gum. Urea is made from urine.

Merry old England had a couple unusual skin treatments involving grizzly ingredients and odd processes. For pimples, the prescription was puppies and wine. The treatment was macabre. The acne sufferer was to behead two newborn puppies and hang them upside-down by the heels to bleed. The blood was caught in a bowl, mixed with white wine and applied to the pimples.

Another charming cure from 17th century Britain was a wart remedy. Red meat was rubbed on the wart and then buried in the ground. By the time the meat had rotted underground, the warts would be gone.

Rural Americans have some home remedies for skin care that are pretty strange as well. Some folks use white toothpaste to dry pimples, reduce the misery of an insect bite or as a burn salve. Tobacco is known to relieve the pain of a bee sting by drawing out the bee venom. Some folks in the U.S. use ear wax to stop cold sores from forming. Interestingly enough, ear wax is also used in some parts of the country to relieve tooth pain.

Weird ingredients aren’t limited to backyard remedies. Numerous skin care products have ingredients that might surprise you. Snake venom peptide acts as a sort of topical Botox injection. The venom reduces facial wrinkles. Another skin cream uses purified snail slime as an anti-aging agent. Placenta supposedly tones and hydrates skin. Bee mucus extract is said to balance skin oils and prevent wrinkles. Crystals made from human sperm are in a skin cream made in Norway.

Numerous medicine chest and pantry products have been used for off-label purposes. Hemorrhoid cream is routinely used to smooth puffy eyes and eliminate fine wrinkles. Vodka can be wiped on the feet to get rid of foot odor. Pepto-Bismol makes a great facial mask. Eye drops reduce the redness of pimples. Milk of Magnesia can be used to treat oily skin. Even the lowly baby wipe has seen a rebirth as a make-up remover. It would appear that from the beginning of time that people have always gone to great lengths to look their best.


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