Of Course China Devised The Scariest Beauty Treatment Of All Time

Sometime around the beginning of everything ever, humanity started drafting its long-running list of dangerous, idiotic things done in the name of youth and beauty. In ancient Greece, where blond hair was valued above all, women lightened their tresses with arsenic … which later became a popular ingredient for face powder. Venetian cerise, a skin-whitening cosmetic considered the best of its time, contained white lead that would eventually cause sores, organ damage, and death. Similarly, the first kohl was made of dark lead, which Egyptians proceeded to put in and around their eyeballs. Because that’s a good place to put lead. And let’s not even start with Elizabeth Bathory, the freakin’ Blood Countess, who bathed in and drank the blood of hundreds of virgins to keep herself looking youthful. To Liz’s credit, she lived pretty long for her time period. Maybe she was onto something?

With all the experience we shallow assholes have had risking our lives (and ending the lives of others) to improve our looks, you’d figure we might stop sometime. And yet! The beauty coups just keep getting weirder. And when the weird gets super-weird, it packs up its under-eye bags and heads to Asia, where it will then undergo huǒ liáo. Huǒ liáo, “fire treatment,” is a widely practiced form of alternative therapy, performed all over China at “beauty salons” and “therapy centers.” It involves soaking a towel in a specially prepared “secret elixir” before placing it on the “problem area.” Then some alcohol is added as a “starter fluid.” And then they set it on fire.

The fire therapy itself is pretty straightforward, but as for why people do this and what it actually does… eh, who knows. Places that practice huǒ liáo just make ambiguous claims like “You’ll feel great.” This particular photo was posted on a Chinese message board by a woman who said, “My mom went to get her face done at the beauty salon so I went with her. What I saw… instantly shocked me.” So next time your aesthetician squeezes your pores a little too hard (extractions), just thank your lucky stars you’re not in China, where they’d be taking a Bic to that shit faster than you can say, “That’s not a pimple, it’s a birthmark!” Which has actually happened to me. [RocketNews]