Our Breathing Planet

7+ Bizarre Vintage Beauty Products That Were Just Downright Dangerous

Many of us have heard most of our lives the famous saying — that beauty is pain. We shove our feet into uncomfortable shoes just to get a good Instagram picture. We wax our upper lips and eyebrows, maybe even opt for laser treatments to get rid of unwanted hair. We accidentally stab our eyeballs with mascara wands, which might be the worst of them all.

But these are nothing compared to the dangerous beauty products of the past.

Ancient Kohl Liner


People really have been suffering for beauty for a long time.

The thick black and sleek eyeliner that Ancient Egyptians wore was made out of malachite, galena, and kohl, which would all lead to irritability, insomnia, and poor mental health.

All in the name of a fleeky wing!


Recently, Kim Kardashian sported a super cinched waist at this year's Met Gala, and it was all thanks to a corset. But corsets aren't all that and a bag of chips (I don't even think you could eat one chip while wearing one).

There's a reason why they came out of style back in the 1800s. Not only did they restrict breathing, but they also caused damage to the spine, ribcage, and muscles.

Laird's Bloom of Youth

Old Ads Are Funny

Laird's Bloom of Youth claimed to whiten skin for a more youthful, clear, and smooth complexion. I mean, the fact that they equated lighter skin to beauty was problematic in and of itself.

It actually caused many unfavorable symptoms, most notably muscle atrophy and paralysis. This is because it was made with lead and carbonate.

Definitely not the "delightful and harmless" product it claimed to be!

Lash Lure


Lash Lure is kind of like modern lash tinting, except obviously not safe at all. It was a coal tar-based eyelash and eyebrow dye that was meant to last longer than mascara or an eyebrow pencil alone.

However, like the story of many of these products goes, the product was made of toxic materials, leading to eyelash and eyebrow loss, as well as blurry vision and blindness.



This product was supposed to remove unwanted body hair, but it actually caused permanent hairloss, blindness, respiratory problems, and more.

This is because it contained rodenticide, a rat poison.

Not good.

Nightshade Eyedrops

Nightshade, a.k.a belladonna, was made into eyedrops and used to dilate women's pupils, as this was part of the beauty standard at the time. It was thought to create a more wide-eyed and seductive look, but I don't think many women achieved that for long.

As a poison, these eyedrops caused women to have blurry vision, vertigo, and, you guessed it, blindness.

What's wild is that this is still being used today to dilate pupils during eye exams — but do not fear! I think modern medicine has come a long way to ensure its use is safe!

Arsenic Complexion Wafers

National Museum of American History

Wow, this company isn't even trying to hide what's in it! But the real kicker is the slogan, "Guaranteed absolutely safe. Harmless to anybody."

Ooooookay. Whatever you say Dr. James. P Campbell.

Ingesting this product promised to remove pimples, scarring, and freckles. It's safe to say, this product is definitely no longer on the market.

Freckle Ointment


While people love the look of freckles now, they weren't seen as cute and desirable back in the day. There were many products on the market created to try and fade freckles.

However, these products contained mercury, which can cause kidney damage, skin irritation, scarring, and infections. Even worse, it can cause depression, anxiety nerve damage, and psychosis.

Worth it? I think not.

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