It turns out people have been using minty mouthwashes for centuries. Going back right to the Middle Ages, people have been keeping their breath fresh with minty mixtures. And while it’s hard to believe, medieval people had quite a range of mouthwashes. In fact, they probably had more choices than we have in the modern age. As unpleasant as it sounds, people also gargled wine and vinegar to keep their breath nice and fresh.
Other ways of getting rid of bad breath was to chew on mint, fennel seeds, parsley, cloves, and cinnamon. While we doubt that wine-flavored mouthwash will take off, it sounds like there might just be markets for clove-flavored and cinnamon-flavored mouthwashes. Maybe, we can learn something from the not-so-stinky Middle Ages after all.
Nowadays, most people have morning and evening facial cleansing routines. It’s nothing out of the ordinary to cleanse one’s face, apply toner, and finally, apply some kind of moisturizer. Interestingly, this kind of daily facial care also took place in the Middle Ages. The beauty standards then for women were to have milk-white and soft skin.
At the end of the day, everyone generally washed their faces, but sometimes, women applied animal fats to their faces during their evening facial routines. Applying animal fats is one way of keeping one’s skin soft and smooth. As some people believed in the power of gemstones, other less effective ways of cleansing one’s face included licking gemstones or rubbing gemstones over their skin.
When we think of medieval people, we generally think of people with a mouth of rotten or missing teeth. Though hygiene back then was not as advanced as it is nowadays, archaeological evidence shows that medieval people’s teeth were in better condition than is commonly thought. Sugar only became widely available in the 20th century and has contributed to a lot of tooth decay.
While medieval people did have tooth decay, they also had rudimentary toothpaste – and even tooth powders – to help keep their pearly whites squeaky clean. Medieval toothpaste was made from sage and ground salt or ground mint, pepper, and rock salts. While activated charcoal is trending nowadays, surprisingly, medieval people used charcoal too. They used charcoal powder from rosemary stems to clean their teeth.
Not Just Medieval Times
Can you imagine living in the unsanitary conditions of the dark medieval era, considering the personal hygiene standards we have just covered? We thought not. Now, let's shift to the changes in personal hygiene as we fast forward to the days of the Wild West.
While the Wild West may have romanticized the rugged and adventurous spirit of the frontier, it often overlooked the harsh realities of personal hygiene. Inadequate access to clean water, limited bathing facilities, and sparse availability of toiletries led to unhygienic conditions.
Disease outbreaks, such as cholera and typhoid, were common occurrences. So, before immersing yourself in the allure of the Old West, remember that behind the Hollywood glamour, life was marked by challenging sanitary conditions and the constant threat of illness.
The Saloon Spittoon
In the Old West, saloons were bustling hubs where people gathered to indulge in drinking, gambling, and sometimes even brawling, all in the name of socializing. Chewing tobacco was a common habit among many cowboys, resulting in copious amounts of spitting. While some impressive individuals could accurately aim for the spittoon from a considerable distance, many missed their mark.
In fact, some didn't bother using the spittoon at all, choosing instead to spit directly on the sawdust-covered floors. Consequently, these floors became breeding grounds for a multitude of germs. The situation became so unsanitary that certain establishments banned spitting, imposing fines or even jail time as a punishment.