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11 Incredible 19th Century Beauty Tips

Here are 11 tips for ladies, drawn from chapter “beauty secrets” in the Encyclopedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, written by Barkham Burroughs in 1898.

11 Incredible 19th Century Beauty Tips

Burroughs prefaced the chapter saying that “in order to control, manipulate, influence and preserve the adoration of husbands, fathers, brothers and even cousins, women should always look lovely.”

Here are Burroughs’s recommendations:

Take baths often

It was recommended at least one bath a week, during which, if possible, women needed to clean themselves with a sponge.

Use a cleaning solution

The ammonia was considered to be much better than soap: “A lady who discovered the benefits of ammonia will not give up its use”, says Burroughs.

Wash your eyes

Nothing is more attractive than bright eyes. Women were advised to clean their eyes with soap scum or they had to drip perfume into their eyes. The same effect was obtained by eating a sugar cube sprinkled with equal amounts of whiskey and cologne.

Don’t wash your hair

As the book shows, the water can degrade the hair. In order to clean it, it was recommended wiping it with a towel or a 30 minute brushing session.

Don’t ever wash your face

The preferred method of cleaning the face was the friction with a glycerin solution, following by drying with chamois or a piece of cotton cloth.

Try not to wash your hands

“Don not ever dare to wet your hands”, writes Burroughs, recommending the same method applied in cleaning the face – glycerin and cotton canvas. During bathing, it is recommended wearing gloves in order to avoid wetting hands. The author notes in this section that dozens of women with wonderful hands “touch water with their hands once a month”.

Stand naked at the window

The steam bath, as the process is called, must last for at least an hour. For a proper steam bath “the woman gets completely naked, places a chair near the window and sits in direct sunlight. For an active woman, dancing is recommended while taking the steam bath.”

Emphasize your eye line

The recommended solution was composed of “two parts of nitric oxide of mercury mixed with one of lard”. In case the woman couldn’t find these ingredients, it was accepted the use of carbon black.

Arrange your eyelashes

Long eyelashes were considered ugly, so they had to be shortened every two days.

Give shape to your lips

Beautiful lips are essential to the beauty of a woman. As early as possible, girls have to think about the shape of their lips and find ways they can be improved. Even though he does not explain how this thing can be done, Burroughs shows that thin lips can be modified by “sucking” that “draws blood into tissues”, and after a certain period provides a “permanent swelling”, while thick lips can be corrected by “compression”.

Do your best not to be alone

Burroughs adds as final recommendation: no matter the methods you use to maintain your beauty, “being married is a much better thing for your skin that any ammonia solution.”


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