Killer Beauty Tips from Ye Olde World


From accidents with nuclear waste to bites from radioactive insects, most superheroes and villains have some scary makeover stories but these pale into insignificance when it comes to the beauty secrets in olden times.

However, for a look at some truly terrifying makeovers, we take you beyond Gotham City and all the way back to the Middle Ages, when makeovers could kill.

Here at Ipswich City Square we are seriously passionate about all things beauty and fashion, and while these days we only buy our beauty products from Discount Drug Store Ipswich we thought it might be fun to take a look back in time to the very beginning of modern make-up…enjoy!


Hundreds of years before product testing and safety labelling became the norm, women of ye olde worlde tended to create their own cosmetics using whatever was at hand. And while some were harmless (but disgusting), like using crushed beetles for blush and lip tint – gag! – or urine to lighten hair – double gag!! – or bird poop to lighten the skin – I just can’t even!!! – some were just downright deadly. Sulphur skin treatments anyone?

In the 1500s when Elizabeth1 ascended the throne she had a cult following bigger and badder than all the Kardashians and Jenners combined.

With her eyebrows plucked into submission, a delicate beetle juice blush upon the cheek and the lips and her white lead and vinegar complexion (no, really!), Elizabeth1 was considered hot stuff. Despite a notable lack of selfies or social media, the Queen still managed to be a bit of a shameless self-promoter, planting her face on all manner of medieval merchandise, from brooches to banners.

When women saw her likeness, they were desperate to copy her every style move. So just how did the modern medieval woman stock her cosmetics bag in the days before the advent of the Bobbi Brown and MAC counter?

Why, she made it of course. Here are some of the favourite beauty recipes of the day – whatever you do ladies, do not try this at home:


Back in the day, when only peasants and poor people (ugh!) went out into the sun and got a tan, the rich and fabulous loved a whiter-than-white complexion. And, the paler the complexion, the higher up the aristocratic food chain they clearly were.

To achieve the palest, longest-lasting foundation, white lead was mixed with vinegar into a paste and applied all over the face. While it did create a really luminous white effect, it also maimed or killed many of its users, which sadly, was not enough to deter the serious cosmetic devotees.

(Not a fan of the lead which turned skin grey and caused horrendous scarring? Not to worry, there was a very good recipe for an arsenic-based foundation available at the time which you could use instead.)


You think liquid eye liner is difficult? How about some Belladonna eye drops to give your pupils an extra sparkle and that seductively dilated pupil look? Hot! Unfortunately for its many users, Belladonna turned out to be highly toxic and frequently caused blindness. Bummer!


Nothing leaves your skin feeling fresher than a good, old-fashioned mercury facial, right girls? Well, for the ultimate skin peel, mix mercury with alum, honey and egg shells and enjoy that clean, stripped bare feel.


Long before synthetic stick-on falsies were created, many a poor Elizabethan-era mouse gave up its life in the quest for beauty, as women everywhere began to use mouse fur as fake eye lashes (we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried!).

Apart from the obvious issues of hygiene and things like lice, we can’t possibly see where this could go wrong.

Source – ‘Delightes for Ladie’s – by Sir Hugh Plat, London, 1602