Since the beginning of time, women have suffered in the name of beauty. In this article, I will share the beauty secrets of some of the most famous women through history.
Elizabeth I washed her hair in lye and cleaned her teeth with a cloth of linen. She used a bright white make-up, a concoction of lead, egg whites, and poppy seeds, to hide her flawed complexion. She was a thin woman and wore many layers to give the appearance of bulk. She kept her figure by engaging in hearty walks, riding horses, and dancing. She wore fine clothes and decorated her person with jewels and flowers.
Cleopatra has long been considered the beauty of antiquity. She worked hard to achieve this reputation, though. Cleopatra wore a lot of make-up, and even wrote a volume on cosmetics. She sat for hours as paints were applied to her face. She wore exotic perfumes, bathed in donkey's milk, rubbed her skin with aloe vera, and put oil of cinnamon in her hair. Old Cleo knew that being a beauty meant looking good and smelling good...
...Not so for Isabella of Spain. Though she was a marvelous dresser, wearing richly embroidered gowns, velvet gloves and gold embellished hats. She stunk to holy hell. Rumor has it that she only took two baths in her entire life. (Eww)
Marie Antoinette was the ultimate slave to fashion, rivaling even the outrageously image-conscious Cleopatra. During the beginning of her reign, the French Queen spent lavishly on elaborate gowns and bejeweled accessories. Her widely hooped and panniered dressed required the assistance of many servants. The queen was fond of rose water and orange water, which she used for perfume and to revive herself after a swoon. Perhaps the greatest pains she took for appearances-sake, was to endure hours in a chair while her physiognomist spun her hair in wild concoctions. Her complicated hair-do's included vases with sprouting flowers or toy ships in full-sail. These hair-raising works of art stood several feet high and were painful. Some women, including Marie Antoinette, fainted from the pain of having their hair pulled so tight. The hair, which was powdered, would remain styled for days, which meant women oftentimes slept sitting up to avoid messing their stylish do's. Frequently, lice and bugs would nest in the hair and scalps were broken and bloody. Marie Antoinette would sit for hours having her hair spun into wild concoctions.
To read more about Marie Antoinette's hair trials and tribulations, please read HAIR RAISING FACTS.
Queen Victoria of England, whose very name is synonymous with a period of respectability and strict moral values, was a bit of a renegade. Women in Victorian England were supposed to be delicate and lilting, some even resorted to placing leeches behind their ears to drain the color in their faces. Victoria, a stout woman with a ruddy complexion, loved the outdoors and believed brisk hikes were good for the skin. She kept a closet full of beautiful, lacy gowns and loved trinkets, including brooches and lockets. Despite her love for feminine "pretties" Victoria had a very practical side. As one contemporary fashion magazine wrote, "One point of dress has been much amended lately, owing to the good sense of our Queen. It was formerly thought ungenteel to wear anything but thin Morocco shoes, or very slight boots in walking. Clogs and galoshes were necessarily resorted to. Victoria has assumed the Balmoral petticoat, than which, for health, comfort, warmth and effect, no invention was ever better. She has courageously accompanied it with the Balmoral boot, and even with the mohair and coloured stocking."