Picture a beautiful woman with blackened teeth and shaved brows. Nope, I’m not talking about some crazy runway look at New York Fashion Week. In old school Japan, both were common makeup looks among women (and some men, too).
Ohaguro, the practice of dyeing teeth black, was a common beauty treatment in Japan through the late 1800s. To darken their smiles, men and women applied a savory blend of acetic acid (the compound that gives vinegar its sour taste and scent), iron and fushiko powder, a powder made from the sap of the urushi tree, also known as the lacquer or varnish tree.
Ohaguro also doubled as a dental treatment, protecting teeth from cavities and periodontitis, and its popularity began to wane in the 1870s after the Japanese government banned the practice among aristocrats.
High brow? How ’bout no brow?
Hikimayu, the practice of completely shaving or plucking eyebrows into oblivion, is still seen today. After removing the brows, Japanese women will sometimes draw them back in a little higher on the forehead using black ink (or mascara).
I’d always thought American flappers pioneered the look, but forms of it were popular in Japan well before the 1920s.
More vintage Japanese beauty bits from back in the day…
- During Japan’s Edo period (1603-1885) women would shave their brows after giving birth and dye their teeth after getting married.
- Vintage Japanese beauties often wore face powders made with lead (now considered a no no), which they’d dissolve in water and apply with a brush to their face, neck and chest.
- In ancient Japan, blush was only worn by the wealthy. The color that was commonly used was extracted from the rouge flower, and it was a very expensive process.
Interesting, isn’t it?
I’m thinking about doing a series of these posts on the changing face of beauty in different cultures over the centuries. Let me know if you like the idea, and please comment if you know of any other interesting Japanese beauty trends from days gone by.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,
P.S. If you’re new here, thank you for visiting. Makeup and Beauty Blog is a makeup blog with daily product reviews, beauty tips, giveaways and the random shenanigans of a crazy cat lady/makeup enthusiast named Karen (that’s me!).