CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

5 Great Skincare Tips (From 100 Years Ago)

Original image
Getty Images

Beautiful skin. It's not a vanity to desire it. In fact, doing whatever you can to get it may very well be God's will. Marie Montaigne explains in 1913's How to be Beautiful:

Almost while I was writing this, a learned Presbyterian minister reminded the sisters of his flock about the loveliness of flowers and admonished them that women were the flowers of the human family, and, therefore, that it was a woman's sacred duty to do everything she could to enhance her beauty and so confer upon the world the pleasure in the gift of a human blossom. [How to be Beautiful]

In 1913, many women were also the cows, pack-mules, kangaroos, and brood sows of the human family. Though it may be difficult to maintain your blossom while constantly pregnant, caring for six children, driving a plow, and hand-washing the clothing of an entire family while elbow-deep in lye, it is not impossible. A true woman can surely manage it!

Here, some helpful skin-care tips from 100 years ago.

1. Avoid the salad oil

To nourish the skin on your face, Dr. William A. Woodbury, dermatologist and author of 1910's Beauty Culture: A Practical Handbook on the Care of the Person, prescribes a mix of lard, lanolin, boric acid, and white wax. Ms. Montaigne, however, sees no need for such harsh ingredients. Furthermore, she cautions against what can happen if you use the wrong skin food.

An important thing to consider in the selection of skin foods is their tendency to darken the skin or make it hairy… Salad oil, unless made from pure olives, will make the skin hairy, while pure olive extracts will not. [How to be Beautiful]

Perhaps using salad oil on your skin never occurred to you in the first place. Good! It, like impure thoughts, causes unwanted hair growth. Avoid at all costs. However, dairy products may be just the thing!

Sour milk or that which has curdled, is very whitening to face and neck. Mixed with cornmeal it cannot be surpassed as a softening bleach for the skin. [How to be Beautiful]

You can be one of those rare human blossoms that smell like curdled milk. God's skunk cabbage.

2. Don't move

If you believe that wrinkles are an unavoidable part of aging, sister, you're just making excuses. You have wrinkles for two reasons. One, you didn't rub your face correctly, and two, you will not control your emotions. Why can't you be more like the Turks?

According to Beauty's Aids, a book written in 1901 by the anonymous Countess C__:

The most simple and most effective way to avoid the appearance of lines, is to try as far as possible to keep an immobile face — that immobility which amongst the Arabs and the Turks preserves for so long the purity of their skin. And it is the same even in our country. Many unimpressionable women are such mistresses of their nerves that nothing surprises them or troubles them, they remain always serene, never crying, never laughing, hardly smiling, until they reach that stage of force of will, that they prevent their passions from showing in their faces. [Beauty's Aids]

Faces aren't for feelings, dear. If they were, what would you bottle up inside, enabling you to build enough wrenching inner turmoil to keep your figure trim? Hmm?

But if you insist on being so gauche as to have visible emotions, you have the option of a facial "massage." From The Countess:

The cheek muscles… are manipulated with a clawing motion which must be light and quick; not pinching. This will fill out hollow cheeks, while it gives firmness to the tissues and banishes the tell-tale lines of worry. [Beauty's Aids]

Presumably to be replaced by the tell-tale signs of clawing your own face daily.

3. Be good for beauty's sake

According to Daniel Garrison Brinton and George Henry Napheys, who wrote Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve it in Accordance with the Laws of Health in 1870, the placement of wrinkles reveal your inner soul. And you can prove this theory simply by electrocuting a corpse.

Connect the poles of an electric battery with these separate muscles on the face of a corpse, and you will see the ghastly spectacle of the passions of rage, of mirth, of lust, of hate, one after another brought into horrid relief on the countenance of death. The habitual use of one of these muscles above the other, enlarges it, and leaves on the countenance marks which observers ever associate with the passion. [Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve it in Accordance with the Laws of Health]

4. Stock up on hog's lard

The anonymous Countess C__ gives serious consideration to many injurious skin conditions: carbuncles, blackheads, warts, and, of course, freckles.

These spots, which are ordinarily called freckles, and by the learned, ephelis, are the horror of blondes, red-haired, and dark people, with a fine white skin. How do they come? Medici certant — the doctors disagree, said one of my friends, a Latin scholar. Are they a sign of an excess of iron in the system? Do they denote an anaemic temperament, a feeble circulation? No one knows. However they come, they are very disagreeable for those who are afflicted with them. Fortunately it is possible to prevent them, and, as a rule, one can get rid of them. [Beauty's Aids]

Modern times tell us, of course, that freckles actually denote a lack of soul. Still, the Countess then offers a variety of recipes, principle ingredients including turpentine, hog's lard, and acetate of lead. It may seem drastic, but it's a small price to pay to be able to walk amongst the normals without having the blackness of your heart speckled all over your face.

5. Make your own dimples

The Skin: Its Care and Treatment by Emily Lloyd is a turn-of-the-century study manual for women considering becoming "beauty operators." Most of the book is dedicated to instruction on how to use what appears to be a car battery to electrically stimulate a client's face. (A live client this time, presumably).

The sections on cosmetic surgery, though detailed, do indicate that a professional surgeon should be called upon. However, an operator can make dimples for her client, all by herself. All you need is a very sharp knife, a hook and some scissors.

After the skin has been carefully cleansed the sharp point of a very fine knife is carried into the cellular and fatty tissue of the cheek, and then these tissues drawn up with a very sharp hook and snipped off. The amount of tissue excised is hard to describe as it will depend largely upon the location selected, also upon the style of a dimple preferred. [The Skin: Its Care and Treatment]

You don't think Shirley Temple was born with those dimples, do you? Only her beauty operator knows for sure.

More from The Week...

12 Iconic Breaking Bad Props You Can Actually Own

*

7 Reviews of the Original iPhone from 2007

*

The Science of Getting a Bartender's Attention

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
quiz
arrow
Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
Original image
SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES