Dimple Machines, Glamour Bonnets, and Pinpointed Flaw Detection

Before the cosmetic surgery obsession came these early twentieth-century innovations in "beautification." 

Nose Harness

Trados-Nose-Shaper-Model-22-e1349215183302.jpg
Weird Universe

"You have a beautiful face... But your nose?" If you were alive in the early 20th century and you didn't like your nose, the good news is that you didn't have to resort to expensive, painful rhinoplasty. The bad news is that your other option involved this painful-looking and unsightly Trados Nose-Shaper. Model 22 was pretty popular in 1918, if the number of ads is any indication, but "Face Specialist" M. Trilety didn't stop there. By 1928, Trilety was a "Pioneering Noseshaping Specialist" who offered quick, painless and permanent nose correction with Model 25:

Trados-Nose-Shaper-Model-25-e1349215231715.png
Amazon

Dimple Stamper

1936-dimple-machine-e1349215501951.jpg
Modern Mechanix

Isabella Gilbert must have spent a significant portion of her life distressed over her lack of dimples, because in 1936 she invented this spring-loaded contraption that promised to "make a fine set" by pressing a pair of knobs into the cheeks. This seems like a commitment you would have to take seriously, since real dimples don't just show up for a night out on the town.

Giant Stationary Hairdryer

1920s-hairdryer-e1349215710949.jpg
Guardian/Retronaut

Short hair was all the rage in the Twenties, but even a bob needs a good blowout. The first portable handheld hairdryer was invented in 1920, but that didn't stop some intrepid soul from building this massive industrial-strength version sometime soon after. Given that it stands on six legs and appears to be rather heavy, we can probably assume that this model didn't grab much of the hairdryer market.

Dr. Lecter's Mask

Face-Mask-1912-e1349216096490.png
Google Patents

Anyone with "facial defects" in 1912 was fortunate to have Lillian Bender, who invented this super-comfy device which promised "removal of wrinkles and sagging flesh" by way of a fully adjustable rubber mask. Bender thoughtfully included an opening for the mouth, which was probably helpful since the elastic collar was tied corset-style around the throat.

Vibrators. Vibrators Everywhere.

Targeted vibration worked so well for hysteria that it was soon prescribed for curing everything from cellulite to cankles.

1910-Hip-Reducer-e1349216354406.jpg
Vintage Ad Browser

In 1910, the White Cross Electric Vibrator was advertised as a combination hip slimmer, dandruff buster and cure for "back lameness."

Venus-Adonis-Normalizer-e1349216398230.jpg
Vintage Ad Browser

In the 1920s, its successor took the claims one step further and promised that the Venus-Adonis Electric Normalizer would do all that and improve "elimination."

Spot-Reducer-Guarantee-e1349216461143.jpg
Vintage Ad Browser

By 1950 the Electric Spot-Reducer offered a 10-day guarantee that the user would lose pounds and inches "without risking health," which is at least half true.

multiple-electric-vibrator-e1349216630239.jpg
Superfan

Following soon after, a "multiple electric vibrator" for the scalp hit the market, promising to stimulate circulation in the "scalp and brain cells" in addition to removing dandruff and loose hair. The 480 vibrating pins were euphemistically called "artificial fingers," probably because they look sort of terrifying.

Electrified Masks

1933-Electric-Face-Mask-e1349216846210.jpg
Modern Mechanix

Remember Linda Evans' Rejuvenique mask? This was its grandma. In 1933, Dr. Joseph Brueck introduced "an electric face moulding mask" that contained a "battery of heating coils" to warm the face and melt away wrinkles and lines. If that seems uncomfortable and claustrophobic, no worries: "While milady is being made beautiful, she breathes through a tube set between the lips of the mask, and views the world through eyes cut where eyes should be."

Presented by

Adrienne Crezo is a writer based in Oklahoma.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In