Picks and Pans Review: Beauty the Twentieth Century

updated 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

by various authors

Just a century ago, women were warned that regular bathing might impair fertility and cause depression, hair was cleaned with a perfumed comb (if at all), and beef suet was lightly applied to conceal wrinkles. Such tidbits abound in this well-illustrated romp through the annals of gorgeousness, as documented in film, advertising and photography. Although the six authors–all fashion writers and editors from France–concentrate on the past 100 years, some of the book's best details crop up in a 50-page section on earlier times. The beauty regimen of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, for example, included lime-water baths; body rubs with clay from the Nile; massages with herb-perfumed walnut, olive or palm oil; ostrich egg-based masks; skin coated by a yellow ocher preparation, with red ocher accents about the cheeks. No wonder she is still remembered. (Universe, $29.99)

Bottom Line: Fascinating eyeful

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