How Has Hygiene Changed In The Past 200 Years?

Centuries ago, a warm bath a few times a week was a luxury for anyone but royalty. It was also basically the extent of personal hygiene. Things have changed drastically since then. We now have entire aisles in massive supermarkets devoted just to shampoo. Add in deodorants, hair gels/spray, body wash etc. and you have dozens of different brands making hundreds of products. The personal hygiene industry is a major force in the developed world’s economy and has become a significant chunk of our budgets. Hygiene is such a big deal now that the average family spends hundreds of dollars a year just on personal care products. Modern technology has been responsible for creating products that keep our skin and bodies healthy while making the world a cleaner place to exist in – but does all of this come at a much higher cost? Let’s take a look at some of the changes we have experienced over the centuries.

Changing the way we live

We have the luxury of so many skin care products in stark contrast to centuries ago when a shower was replaced by an individual wiping down their body with a dry rag. Sound awful? It gets worse! Deodorant a few hundred years ago was something that never entered anyone’s mind. Did everyone just smell back then? Well, probably. Others would simply pluck away their armpit hairs in a desperate attempt to remove the stench according to the old English author Gervase Markham.

The invention of new personal care products like hair dye in every color of the rainbow have helped create an entirely new market for hygiene products. Other inventions of the past couple of centuries have made the world a much cleaner, more sanitary place. Imagine a life without toilet paper. Not too long ago that would have been a reality. Even the modern version of the toothbrush was a product of the 1930s. Products like shaving oilmake the daily routine of shaving more effective and less painful.

Evolution of beauty products

People have been using beauty products for thousands of years, but it was not until recent centuries that the ways to beautify oneself truly exploded. Old cosmetics were smelly and often times dangerous. There was a time when women would use coal as eye liners. Today, men and women are privileged to have hundreds of options at their disposal.

New issues related to personal care

The downside of having so many personal care products on the market is that many of them are simply cheap and ineffective. Using the wrong products can damage your skin, which may be part of the reason that skin cancer occurrences have skyrocketed over recent decades. Your beauty and personal care products can be incredibly toxic, especially if ingested or absorbed into your bloodstream. For your long term health, just watch what you use and do everything in moderation.

High quality products with more natural than synthetic ingredients can keep your skin looking and feeling great, but others simply put you at an unnecessary risk. This is the catch 22 of modern hygiene.

Sure, modern hygiene has given us many life simplifying products, but are we truly better off today than we were 200 years ago? One must exercise caution when buying hygiene products because there are real risks associated with using cheap, synthetic concoctions on your skin or in your home. We are blessed with many ways to easily take care of ourselves today, while at the same time being over saturated by products that we supposedly have to use.

Do you really need four different products to put in your hair each time you shower? Probably not. We should be thankful for the advances of modern hygienic products, yet exercise caution to not abuse them.