The Victorian era was all about keeping up appearances, in both fashion and beauty.
In previous centuries, women were fond of light skin, light hair, voluptuous figures, and red cheeks. During the Renaissance, beauty was wealth and wealth was beauty. Women used toxic cosmetics to stay gorgeous, but over time, these would cause skin problems and even hair loss! So how did beauty trends change in the Victorian era?
Beauty Trends in the Victorian Era
Some trends changed and some stayed the same. In Victorian times, propriety and conformity were the norm. Meek, demure women were the ideal. Makeup and cosmetics were frowned upon, because they made women stand out. But women still used them, if only to appear even more meek, demure, and respectable.
Here are some of the Victorian trends that were popular during the 1800s and into the 1900s:
Pale Skin was Popular
This trend carried over from the Renaissance. White skin was associated with wealth, since wealthy women didn’t have to work. Pale-skinned women were those who could afford to spend their time inside and avoid a hard day’s labor in the field.
Tan skin, on the other hand, suggested that women were part of the working class and was actually looked down upon at this time.
Women went to great lengths to avoid tan skin. Makeup and cosmetics were used widely, discreetly, and quietly. Many books and popular figures preached against their use, but they still found their way into many women’s homes.
Creams, lotions, ointments, pomades, herbs, and tonics were some of the most popular ways women kept their skin clear and fair.
Clothes Covered, but Still Revealing
Women in the Victorian era didn’t want to come across as prostitutes, which was one reason they avoided makeup and cosmetics. Bold colors were taboo for the same reason. They also wore dresses and clothes that covered wrists to ankles, to stay as modest as possible. A far cry from today.
Though women avoided bright colors and exposed skin, they still wanted to look sexy. To Victorians, slim waists were the way to go.
Corsets kept the torso tight, and some women even broke ribs trying to constrict their waist and torso down. Other clothes, such as petticoats, hoops, and bustles accentuated the waist, bust, and bottom.
For Hair, Straight was Out and Curly was IN
To Victorians, straight hair seemed unsophisticated, awkward, and uncouth. Young girls were allowed to wear their hair straight, but when they became women, it was fashionable and even necessary to wear the hair up in chignons, buns, rolls, and curls.
This was also when various hair curling tools hit the scene, such as the curling iron and the mustache curler. The mustache curler was popular among men, who would use it to shape the tips of their handlebar mustaches.
Women still used dye and other chemicals to make their hair vibrant and colorful, but the Victorian concoctions were a bit safer than those in previous years.