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You can say the world is shallow and vain these days, what with our fake tans and breast implants, but the truth is, we've always been that way.

In fact, when you see the lengths to which people used to go to make themselves look or smell a little better, it makes Botox look downright rational.

9
Bird Shit Facials

The Geisha facial is an ancient beauty secret so awesome, it's been brought back to the present so modern women can experience it. Experience what, you ask? Why, having the shit of a nightingale spackled on their face, of course.

Guanine is a chemical that does wonders for the complexion and poop is a wicked source of it (hence the word guano). How anyone discovered the value of a face smeared in bird poop is unclear, but apparently it's been around long enough that Japanese kabuki performers and Geisha used to swear by it. And now you too can pay about $180 to have a stranger put shit on your face on purpose. On purpose.

Naturally, bird shit isn't for everyone. So thank God for ingenuity, as some crafty lady named Diane Irons has assured everyone that kitty litter is pretty much the exact same stuff they'll put on your face at a regular spa. So really all you need to do to acquire the ingredients for the perfect complexion is train your pet bird to shit in the litter box.

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8
Treating Bad Breath With Charcoal

Fresh breath is a valuable commodity. As any gum commercial will show you, it's the key to picking up women and not smelling like you just ate the ass out of a dead bear. These things are important. And not just to us, but to our ancestors.

While modern oral hygiene offers many wonderful things like toothpaste with stripes of other toothpaste in it and minty dental floss, back in the day they had to be a little more creative. Sure, fingers and twigs made great toothbrushes, but what was going to remove that colon smell from your food hole? Charcoal, of course.

Ancient Romans were some of the first to use charcoal while other cultures used burnt sticks to help reduce stank, and there is some precedent for that as it will filter odor. In the 1800s, when young ladies were looking to improve their own stink they borrowed this technique and adapted it to simply sucking or chewing lumps of charcoal, leaving them minty fresh and black-toothed.

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7
Curing Baldness With Spanish Fly

Back in the day they didn't have Propecia which can have bizarre side effects of its own), so what were our forefathers to do? Something stupid as shit? You bet.

One old-school method for hair growth was to rub in a mix of various household ingredients along with nux vomica and cantharides. Not familiar with those last two? They're usually better known as the poison strychnine, a poison, and Spanish Fly (or cantharidin a less poisonous but still deadly poison that causes priaprism). While it may not have lead to hair growth, at least you'd have horrible spasms and paralysis, possibly with an erection. But if they wanted all that they could just go watch Pokemon.

For those not in the market for something quite so insane, there was also the paraffin wax treatment. Just grab some of this solid form of liquid methane and rub it into the roots and get ready to enjoy long, luxurious Lorenzo Lamas hair. Of course, since this tip was from the early 1900s when open flames were used a bit more liberally than they are today, it would be in your best interests to keep your remarkably flammable head away from everything until that sick mullet grew in.

These fancy and deadly methods were developed to replace the extremely old-school baldness cures, like the one proposed by Pliny back in ancient Rome, that was basically making a tasty salad dressing, then mixing in mouse shit and putting it on your head, which didn't work, but probably made the average bald man look like a poppy seed bagel from a distance.

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6
Fixing Skin Blemishes With Hallucinogenic Drugs

Because clean and clear skin is pretty much the be all and end all of a shallow person's existence, there's really no excuse not to do whatever it takes to achieve that end, even if it means smearing a hallucinogen all over your face.

The Pokitonoff acne treatment recommends mixing some sweet Vaseline with Ergotine to cure those little blemishes, which has to work out for you no matter what happens, as either the pimples go away or you just start absorbing the lysergic acid that exists in Ergotine (ya know, the fun part of LSD) and in no time you're flashing back to when you did have clean skin, possibly while being chased across a desert by a giant, tooth-filled anus.

If all you're worried about is freckles, then fear not as you don't need to trouble yourself with anything dangerous like toxic hallucinogens. Instead, there was lavender freckle lotion, which sounds just lovely. Unfortunately, aside from lavender, it inexplicably included hydrochloric acid, apparently according to the theory that you won't worry about freckles once your face has melted off, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style.

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5
Skin Bleaching

While today's fake tan is all the rage for people who want to look like they're from the Jersey Shore without all the hard work and barbed wire tattooing that requires, back in the day it was the pasty, cave-born, C.H.U.D. look that everyone wanted (because back then, a tan meant you were a filthy, common laborer). The whiter and sicklier, the better. Cracked writers would have been living gods.

But those burdened with some manner of natural huehad to turn to science to help wash the color away. Science in turn tried to murder them by offering up the one-two punch of mercury and arsenic.

Both chemicals were used to make a variety of creams and lotions that could be applied to bleach your complexion, probably because both would be slowly sucking your very soul out through your pores.

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4
Reddening Your Lips With Bromine

It was many thousands of years ago that women first realized a thick coat of paint on the kisser would get them free drinks at a bar. Thus, the ancient Egyptians did some tinkering with home harlot kits and came up with a snazzy method of lipstick making that included the use of bromine mannite.

And while bromine is typically a red liquid at room temperature and probably works as a temporary solution for tarting yourself up, it should be noted that these days it tends to be shipped in lead-lined steel drums due to its horrible, horrible toxicity (they used it as a chemical warfare agent in World War I).

The repeated exposure to bromine most likely lead to some skin burning and, over time, kidney failure and brain damage in the women who used it. But they were rarely alone on Saturday night.

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3
Carnivorous Fish Pedicure

After spending all week stomping through gravel pits or whatever it is people did to make ends meet before the advent of the cubicle, the feet undoubtedly suffered and became disgusting, callused stumps of pure suck. Today there are numerous creams and power tools to help men and women alike sandblast that shit away and make it look like they don't have hooves, but back in the day what was everyone to do? The answer was obviously to take a bath with a bunch of flesh eating fish.

Apparently doctor fish are the most disgusting animals in the aquarium and just really like to eat flaky, gross bits of dead skin while leaving all the meaty, bloody stuff behind.

Popular in Japan and other parts of Asia, the idea was just to sit by the pool and let them eat you down to a fine, supple layer and then you were done. This method has actually been resurrected and is now available in some highfalutin spas, where rich patrons pay for the right to not be told how absolutely fucked up it is to let fish eat your feet.

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2
Lead Breast Enhancement

Our ancestors never had the ability to achieve Chelsea Charms-like boobage and that clearly weighed heavily on their minds. While some folks will try to convince you the modern world's obsession with breasts is a new thing and there have historically been different definitions of beauty and other bullshit platitudes like that, the fact is all the world loves boobs and always has because boobs are wholesome and perfect in every way unless they're those gross fried eggy-looking ones that no one likes.

Anyway, in the days of yore, Metrodona, a Byzantine obstetrician, advised you could tone up your rack with a fun-time party mix made from red wine and white lead, which means you'd stink like a wino and have lead poisoning, but have firm and supple guns.

Later in history, the idea of massaging pretty much any kind of oil on boobs became the accepted method of promoting enhancement. This makes no sense whatsoever if you stop to consider it for even a moment, which no man does upon sight of a woman massaging coconut oil on her breasts.

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1
Scar Removal

Because not all chicks dig scars, finding ways to remove them has been around since ancient Egypt when physicians would use sandpaper to scrape off blemishes. Surely that just meant they were epically retarded and modern people would never do such a thing. And it's true, as time passed, the idea of using sandpaper fell out of fashion.

Instead, in the early 1900s, a sadistic German dermatologist decided a really cool way to remove scars would be blades spinning at high speeds over your chemically hardened skin, having graduated from the Eli Roth school of dermatology. And true enough, you can't argue with results, as the machine would blast layers of skin right off. The downside was intense pain, potentially more scarring and infection, but we're thinking if the sight of the German man coming at you with a buzz saw didn't give you second thoughts, then you probably got what you deserved.


More of Ian's writing can be found at ScenicAnemia.com.

If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History. And don't forget to check out Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace to see which sites you shouldn't be inviting to your next intervention. Or learn an important lesson by watching our video about why Apparently Real Moms Aren't Like the Ones on MILFhunter.com.

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