What do you see when you look in the mirror every morning? It depends heavily on your grooming habits and the value you place on beauty and hygiene. For most Americans today, it is common to emphasize good grooming habits. This has not always been the case. In our history, the good old days were pretty dirty and stinky.
Here are some facts about the history of hygiene that you might find gross:
Weddings are traditionally in June because of 18th century hygiene. In the 1700s, May is the month most people take their annual bath so being “cleaner” for a June wedding is more likely. However, even 30 days without washing can bring a stink so the bouquet of flowers typically used by the bride was to cover the stench of the wedding party.
Water was a scarcity in the old days. Because of this, there was usually only one tub of water used to bathe the whole family. The man of the house gets first dibs on the hot clean water, followed by the sons and daughters, leaving wives last.
Roofs in the past did not seal the household like they do today. All sorts of things fell from the ceiling to the bed including vermin and bird poop. Four post canopy beds were invented to keep the filth off of the mattress.
Hygiene, then, has evolved and slowly ingrained itself into our upbringings and values. In the past, our ideals of good hygiene have been radically different than what they are today. Even in today’s world, there are some shocking things taking place in the name of grooming. Some of the grooming habits in other parts of the world might seem strange or disgusting to the average North American, but to the person engaging in the habit, it is perfectly natural. We have located five of the most shocking and put them on the list below.
5. Kenya’s Masai Tribe
Our first grooming habit comes from Africa, where we might consider someof the things done for beauty as strange. The Masai tribe is one example. This tribe’s men are much more concerned about their hair than the women, who shave their heads. Throughout the development of a boy into a man, the tribe will shave a boy’s head up to four times. The head shavings start at 14 when traditionally, boys become men. The last time a man’s head is shaved, the boy becomes a elder hunter in the tribe, with his wife shaving his head for the last time; symbolizing the boy’s entry into the tribe’s elite. Masai men obsess over their hair, spending hours braiding it. They use a natural red pigment called ochre to color their hair and use cotton or wool threads in their braids. The warriors liken their hair to lion manes as it dictates strength and beauty to the rest of the tribe. Some strange ingredients used to condition a Masai man’s hair include ashes and animal fat in it’s raw form. As a source of pride and accomplishment, very few other material items matter as much as the man’s hair.
4. Bird Poop Facials
In Japan, there’s a facial that will have most of us being extra careful about our next visit to the spa. Called the Geisha Facial, the ingredients consist of the Japanese bush warbler’s excrement and rice bran. In Japanese, the concoction is called uguisu no fun (an appropriate English phrase as well!), which means nightingale feces. The mixture smells like medicine to some while others detect no smell. With most birds, their poop is high in uric acid, but the Japanese bush wabler’s poop also has nitrogen-rich urea and guanine: an amino acid. Cosmetics are rich in urea because it holds the moisture into the skin while guanine is used in many products because it gives an iridescent effect. Many recipients of the facials report softer and shinier skin. Is it safe to put bird poop on your face in concentrated amounts? The way the mixture is created ensures that no germs or parasites travel with the bird poop, which is also naturally free of many germs because the birds’ diets are tightly controlled. The bird poop is gathered from the bottom of bird cages (on poop farms!), which is then bathed in ultraviolet light to sanitize it.
3. Not Wearing Deodorant
Apparently, there are some of us in North America who do not believe in wearing deodorant, which is fine, but a little shocking since most of us find the idea of not using any as, well…stinky. Cameron Diaz recently made headlines when she admitted to not using the stuff for over 20 years. In her mind, the reason we stink is because we use it. It keeps the odor in instead of keeping it away. She is not the only one, as many find the need to deodorize their underarms unnecessary. Some find it an unnatural process, the equivalent to putting saran wrap on your pores. These individuals insist that the body has natural oils that will mask most scents and keeping the underarms free of hair assists in keeping the area dry. It is also a matter of conservation as many consider the plethora of beauty treatments available in North America as being extravagant and bad for the environment. After all, we have to throw all the leftover trash away.
2. Tamarind Fruit
The last two shocking grooming habits on our list deal with skin care, focusing on what some cultures do to keep their skin looking fresh and young. In Southwest Asia, the Tamarind fruit is used for a wide variety of things including cooking, medicine and grooming. Its tree is known to grow to 40 feet or more with wood that is used for furniture and flooring. The pulp is used as a cleaning agent and is said to produce a great shine. In the Philippines, the leaves of the fruit are boiled as a medicinal treatment for Malaria. When it comes to grooming, this fruit is a workhorse. It used for a wide variety of skin care in several places throughout Southwest Asia. The fruit is rich in amino acids, vitamins A and C, essential oils and proteins, all being key ingredients for good skin care. Some cultures have used it as a cream to peel scars and other imperfections away from the skin. In other places, the fruit is used to moisturize and whiten the skin. In Indonesian cultures, an oil is produced from the fruit to help with skin elasticity.
1. Carrot Juice, Sand and Oats in Brazil
Brazilian women are known around the world for their beautiful skin. They use sand to peel away the dead skin cells more readily and stimulate the blood flow. Carrot Juice is consumed at alarming rate to help with tanning and skin glow. Carrot Juice stands are regular features near the beaches and many woman drink up to two glasses a day. Apparently, the beta-carotene from carrots accumulates in the subcutaneous fat just under your skin, creating coloration. This means a fast track to that bronzed look we all thought only hours in the sun could provide. Beat juice is another favorite as it protects the skin from ultraviolet rays. If that day at the beach turns into a bad sunburn, Brazilian women go home to soak in a warm bath of oatmeal. This helps to keep damaged skin and peeling to a minimum. To keep that young look, Brazilian women insist on eating acai berries, which naturally contain anti-aging agents, and they will often spread crushed Mimosa plant under their eyes to chase away their wrinkles. Finally, coconut oil is used in the sun to disinfect the skin while sitting on the beach.