Today, beauty is not confined to just the elitists – it is affordable for any woman next door. Here, we revisit some of the beauty enhancers over the years – and what we have today.
1. From foot-operated bust enlarger to breast implantsThe breast has always stood out as a symbol of aesthetic desirability. In 1977, foot-operated bust enlargers hit the stores and sold over 4 million, as it provided a solution, however temporary, to enhancing one’s curves.
Tedious and painful, the cup that came in three sizes was placed over each breast. By pumping the footpad, suction was produced, which could help enlarge the breasts. One noticeable side effect was slight temporary swelling, sometimes bruising.
Today’s breast enlargement procedures are a lot less complicated and more promising. With breast augmentation, women can opt for fat transfer or insert breast implants, which come in different styles and textures, to increase their breast size, and even to alter the shape.
2. From violet ray generators to high frequency facial
One of the earliest facial machines was the violet ray generator, invented by Nikola Tesla – around 1900 – which was used mostly for medicinal purposes.
The 1970s marked the trend towards the use of high frequency aesthetic machines in European cosmetic medicine clinics, where therapists harnessed the low intensity electrical current at high frequencies for the treatment of acne. By late 1980s, these currents were used for non-intrusive skin treatments in many American beauty clinics.
Today, such machines are widely used all over the world, and the benefits include the shrinking and elimination of enlarged pores, acne, wrinkle reduction, enhanced hair growth, removal of different kinds of skin lesions, and overall skin rejuvenation. It is generally safe and patients can resume their activities after the session.
3. Anti-ageing: From McGregor Rejuvenator to magnetic therapyIn the past, the patient would lie inside a rejuvenator with her head remaining outside, with hopes of reversing ageing. Red incandescent and blue ultraviolet bulbs provided the light, and also heated the chamber. Presumably, just by lying there, the skin should firm up and the result? A rejuvenated face.
The rejuvenator was a prelude to magnetic therapy, which has become a craze in the alternative circle, after acupuncture, and used mainly for conditions like asthma and insomnia. Supporters include actress Shirley MacLaine, Bill Clinton and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Proponents of magnetic therapy in the UK believe the technique is an effective non-intrusive alternative to painkillers with no side-effects – which can help improve migraine attacks, eczema and chest infections. Some practitioners claim it can also promote anti-ageing. The concept dates back to ancient times when Cleopatra wore a magnet on her forehead in an attempt to keep herself young. One time therapist to Cherie Blair, Lilias Curtin claims lying on a magnet pillow could actually promote deep sleep – and, in turn, anti-ageing.
4. Easing eye strain: From eye normaliser to eye massagerWhen it comes to age and fatigue, the eye is the first tell-tale sign. In the past, the eye massager was used to restore normal vision and cure near-and far-sightedness.
The most common eye normaliser was a handheld chrome box with two metal stems, which could be adjusted for wide, or narrow-set eyes. There was a rubber cup, or gasket, attached to each stem. Placing their closed eyes in the cups, customers turned a knob on the side of the box to rotate the cups, essentially massaging their eyelids.
Today, the concept of eye massaging still stays, and more so in the digital world today where the eyes could hurt from prolonged staring at screens. The Aurai — a water-filled eye massager from Taiwan that looks like a VR headset — is aimed to relieve all sorts of eye problems, including puffiness, itching, and watering, all by circulating either hot or cold water around a soft silicon compress.
5. From Relax-A–Cizor to Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS)Back in the 1950s and 1960s, people would go to great lengths to put wired pads on the belly, thighs, butt, hips, upper arms, and even the face, and plug in to let the electricity pass through the body for 10 minutes to an hour – just to lose weight. This device, the Relax-A-Cizor, used electricity to “exercise” muscles, so it is essentially slimming down without working out.
However, following reports of miscarriages and paralysis, the FDA banned its sale in the 1970s.
Electrical muscle stimulators (EMS) are trending now and promise to tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, resulting in effective workout in a short time. It is essentially a full body training with electrical stimulation and is one of the most effective passive exercises that can lead to overall weight loss of the body. MIMS
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