Hysterical beauty products your mom used

mom's beauty products

Beauty products have come a
long way since our moms were young. Throughout the ages, women have put
themselves through hell in the pursuit of beauty. From vibrating
“fat-melting” belts to liquid pantyhose, the beauty market has always
found new and inventive ways to capitalize on our obsession with looking
Even today, some of our more
common beauty practices seem downright strange when you think about them
objectively — we have doctors slice into us to remove fat, change the structure
of our faces, or put plastic bags filled with liquid into our chests. We inject
poison into our faces to combat wrinkles. Will the women of 2116 look back at
us and wonder, “What in the world were they thinking?!” Maybe, or
maybe not. 
At any rate — even though it’s
a bit hypocritical — we can still learn (and laugh) at some of the beauty
products used by our mothers, grandmothers, and other women throughout history.

dimple maker beauty product
Back in 1936 — the same year
the Shirley Temple movie Dimples was released — Isabella Gilbert of Rochester,
New York, capitalized on the trend with a beauty product that looks more like a
torture device: her Dimple Maker invention. The spring-loaded beauty device fit
over the face and pressed two knobs into your cheeks, which she claimed would
“soon make a fine set of dimples.” 
The American Medical
Association took issue with Ms. Gilbert’s claims, saying that the machine would
not make dimples and could even cause cancer after prolonged use. Apparently,
even modern-day quacks never got the memo, because there are products similar
to the Dimple Maker still floating around in dark corners of the Internet

Glamour Bonnet beauty product
Apparently, nothing gives you
that “rosy” glow like slow asphyxiation. At least, that’s what the
creators of 1941’s Glamour Bonnet beauty product would have us believe. Devised
by Mrs. D.M. Ackerman of Hollywood, California, the bonnet supposedly emulated
the effects of “what a person feels who climbs a high mountain or flies
high in a plane.” 
Essentially, the Glamour
Bonnet was the equivalent of tying a shopping bag over your face, then using
your vacuum’s hose attachment to suck all the air out of it. But unlike those
pesky opaque shopping bags with their “Thank you!” messages, the
Glamour Bonnet creator boasted that “a window has been installed so the
customers can read during treatments.” Just remember to turn off the
machine when the words start to get blurry.

We actually remember seeing
the infomercial for this Jason-esque contraption back in the late ’90s. The
Rejuvenique Ultimate Facial Toning System runs on a 9-volt battery and claims
to deliver tiny shocks to the muscles of your face in order to firm them up.
It’s essentially a weak TENS unit for your face. Rejuvenique was apparently
popular enough to score former Dynasty star Linda Evans as a spokesperson — and
was even on the shelves of Sears for a time — but it didn’t score quite as well
with the FDA. The device’s inventor came under intense scrutiny for marketing
his product without being able to backup his claims of efficacy.

liquid pantyhose beauty product
The introduction of nylon
pantyhose in May 1940 was a huge success — over 64 million pairs of the
stockings were sold in their first year on the market. But just over two years
later, the United States was in the height of the war effort and a ration was
soon imposed on nylon. The ration would be eased on nylon in 1945 — resulting
in huge lines called “nylon riots” as women fought over the limited
pairs available — but in the intervening years, women had to get creative with
their stockings. 
Enter: liquid pantyhose,
liquid makeup designed for your gams — like the Leg Silque pictured here —
which was painted on the legs to give the illusion of nylon hosiery. Truly
dedicated leg artists would even use black eyeliner pencils to draw the
“seam” up the back.

freckle cream beauty product
While many modern women choose
to embrace their freckles, the antiquated fad of covering up or removing your
freckles with various beauty products continues to this day. Perhaps one
of the longest-running rackets for removing freckles belongs to Stillman’s
Freckle Cream, which has been marketing its salve since at least the
You can still buy Stillman’s
today, although it now seems to have shifted its focus to the Middle Eastern
and Asian markets. Beware if you decide to try it yourself — in recent years,
Stillman’s has been found to have excessively high levels of mercury in its
creams. As if that wasn’t scary enough, here’s another terrifying
freckle-remover method for your consideration: freezing them off with carbon

herpicide beauty product
In the late 1890s, Dupont
Newbro — a druggist from Montana — became convinced that dandruff (and
baldness) was caused by a parasite. Newbro then worked with
“bacteriologists” of the day and came up with the Newbro Herpicide
formula, which he claimed was efficient at killing the little buggers that
caused these (and other) hair problems. 
It appears that consumers
weren’t as concerned by animal testing back then, as evidenced by this
advertisement for Herpicide which touts the results of an experimental test of
the formula performed on rabbits. Whether it worked or not, Herpicide became
popular nationwide and the brand’s slogan, “Too late for Herpicide,”
became a popular catchphrase that lasted long after the tonic was no longer
being sold.

Epilady beauty product
Okay, stow those guilty looks
— we know some of you out there probably used an Epilady at some point in your
dark past. It’s okay, we did too, until we realized that spinning springs or
blades yanking out leg or underarm hair at top speed is no way to run a
railroad (or a beauty product regimen to replace shaving). 
Originally conceived in 1986,
the Epilady made a huge initial impact on the hair-removal market, raking in
hundreds of millions of dollars in sales during the first few years alone. The
Epilady came with one major drawback: it was seriously painful to use. Even
late comedienne Joan Crawford joked about it back in the day, telling audiences
of the ’80s, “I walk down the hotel corridor, and when I hear screams, I
say, ‘Is it a murder — or is it an Epilady?'” 
The Krok sisters — who
originally purchased the rights to the Epilady and introduced it to American
consumers — later filed for bankruptcy and had to pay millions in damages over
a lawsuit brought by a former business partner. Despite that, the Epilady (a
new “improved” version) is still available for sale today, if you’re
in the market for a new meat tenderizer.

Nullo tablets beauty product
Got stank breath? Whisk it
away naturally with Nullo chlorophyll tablets. That’s right, Nullo (originally
marketed in the 1940s and ’50s) supposedly is the “tablet you take
internally to help control odors of the body and breath.” 
The natural cleansing action
of chlorophyll was touted as being able to neutralize your halitosis, underarm
body odor, and even menstrual odors. If you had any doubts about Nullo, just go
check out the testimonials on the company’s website — that’s right, you can
still buy Nullo today! 
In particular, we enjoy this
testimonial from a deer hunter: “I shot this deer with a muzzleloader
after eating Nullo for about 4 days. He walked within 50 feet of me and never
knew I was around. Eight points and 150 pounds. All I can say is WOW! Thanks
So ladies, if you have a
desire to take down a buck at 15 yards, but shark week is interfering with deer
season, maybe you should give Nullo a try.
In 1932, Maksymilian
Faktorowicz, better known as famed cosmetic innovator Max Factor, debuted his
latest invention: the bizarre and cringe-inducing Beauty Micrometer. While it
looks like something out of Hellraiser, the invention was designed to measure
even the tiniest variances in the shape of your face. 
“Flaws almost invisible
to the ordinary eye become glaring distortions when thrown upon the screen in
highly magnified images; but Factor’s ‘beauty micrometer’ reveals the
defects,” an ad for the product read. While the Beauty Micrometer looks like
nothing but pain and quackery to us, the Max Factor official website claims
that Factor was able “to measure the dimensions of a person’s facial
structure to within 1/100th of an inch. This [helped] him determine how to use
shading to create ‘the perfect face.'”

In the 1930s and ’40s, women
didn’t “work out,” they “slenderized.” So-called
“slenderizing salons” or “figure control rooms” popped up
all over the country, with claims that just 15 minutes in one of these vibrating
horror shows could reduce inches from your waist or other problem areas. Now
that’s a beauty product! Except, well, you know.
In 1940, famed photographer
Alfred Eisenstaedt went on assignment for LIFE magazine to one of these salons
with entirely unamused model Pat Ogden for a demonstration of these
bulge-fighting contraptions. From the “Slendo Massager” to the
“Roaler Massager” — which looks like it could be quite fun under
different circumstances — vibration exercise equipment is an unproven fad which
continues to this day, but now under the more trendy name “VbX.”
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.