How To Be Handsome – 1871

Love nostalgia? Check out this dapper advice for men and women from the 1871 pages of the Farmers' Almanac.

For our 200th anniversary, we combed our archives to find the most interesting tips, advice, and articles from yesteryear and included them in a 16-page special section. It features gems like this one: 

How To Be Handsome

From the 1871 Farmers’ Almanac

Most people would like to be handsome. Nobody denies the greater power which any person may have who has a good face and who attracts you by good looks, even before a word has been spoken. And we see all sorts of devices in men and women to improve their good looks—paints and washes, and all kinds of cosmetics, including a plentiful anointing with dirty hair oil.

Now, not everyone can have good features. They are as God made them; but almost anyone can look well, especially with good health. It is hard to give rules in a very short space, but in brief, these will do.

Keep clean. Wash freely and universally with cold water. All the skin wants is leave to act freely, and it will take care of itself. Its thousands of air-holes must not be plugged up.

Eat regularly and simply. The stomach can no more work all the time, night and day than a horse; it must have regular work and regular rest.

Good teeth are a help to good looks. Brush them with a soft brush, especially at night. Go to bed with the teeth clean. Of course, to have white teeth, it is needful to let tobacco alone. Every woman knows that. And any powder or wash for the teeth should be very simple. Acids may whiten the teeth, but they take off the enamel or injure it.

Sleep in a cool room, in pure air. No one can have a clear skin who breathes bad air. But more than all, in order to look well, wake up the mind and soul.

When the mind is awake, the dull, sleepy look passes away from the eyes. I do not know that the brain expands, but it seems to. Think, read, not trashy novels, but books that have something in them. Talk with people who know something; hear lectures, and learn by them.

This is one good of preaching. A man thinks, and works, and tells us the result. And if we listen, and hear, and understand, the mind and soul are worked up.

Men say they can’t afford books, and sometimes they don’t even pay for their newspaper. In that case, it does them little good; they must feel so meanwhile they are reading it.

But men can afford what they really choose. If all the money spent in self-indulgence, in hurtful indulgence, was spent in books, in self-improvement, we should see a change. Men would grow handsome, and women too. The soul would shine out through the eyes. We were not meant to be mere animals.

Let us have books and read them, and lectures and hear them, and sermons and heed them.

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Lidia Barreto Beaulac

I believe these are time tested traditions that should be passed on to our sons and grandsons. My son used to just laugh when I would tell him the girls love a white smile.

cheryl b

I’ve taught my son ,no matter where you go always dress as though it matters.First impressions matter.As does self respect. My grandparents and parents taught us and we were poor growing up.we were clean and neat and well dressed. Hair neat as a pin.Always. It is about having respect for yourself.As well as for others.& be polite.My Grams taught me cold water and I’m nearly 50 and always get told I have great skin and dont look almost 50.Cold water to barely luke good sleep good.Grams was great magic still use dove and Noxema for almost that many years and great mosturizer.Thank you Grams…Plus dont you think it should apply to women as well..

Betty Morris

Having Pity Parties do not enhance one’s well being so change your outlook to one of gratitude and it will surprisingly change your appearance. A little exercise would be very worthwhile.


Beautiful advice! In modern terms, be informed, sleep well, be clean, don’t overload on makeups/cosmetic products, exercise regularly, and eat good, natural food. I love it.

Paula STimmerman-Cohen

Terrific . So much is true today. Exercise is very important. Be kind to people.

Robin Murray

That’s still very good advice. Not dated at all.


lol common sense much? wouldn’t hurt to smell good and take a shot of ACV in the morning, plus, drinking a lot of water helps you look youthful and keeps you energized.

Michael Bache

This is still good advice for overall health & beauty.

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