Beauty Tips From Ancient China

The desire to continue to look youthful is not something new and it was also present in many ancient cultures. Some of the historical recipes that were used in the quest for beauty may seem strange from a contemporary point of view, but many are still relevant.

One such beauty recipe is the Chinese jelly fungus Tremella fuciformis, which Empress Lu Zhi, wife of the founder of the Han Dynasty (241 BC – 180 BC) ate in a soup every day to keep her face looking young and smooth. Tremella fuciformis, otherwise known as show fungus, is used to this day in various foodstuffs. It is said to have medicinal properties for improving blood circulation, as well as brain and memory function, but it is also used as an ingredient in anti-wrinkle cosmetic products because of its collagen content. In the time of Empress Lu Zhi, it was used to prevent dryness and nourish the brain.

Another beauty tip that has been passed along through the centuries is a face wash that contains honey, almond oil and warm water. This was used by Yang Guifei, favoured concubine of Emperor Xuanzong from the 8th century Tang Dynasty, to make her face “put flowers to shame”.

Pearl powder was the preferred beauty treatment of Empress CiXi, the last Empress of China who was known as the West Dowager Empress of the Manchu Qing Dynasty. She was so focused on skincare that she set up a medical research centre to study the benefits of pearl dust, which had been used for centuries to whiten skin. She took a spoonful of the powder every day and her face was praised as flawless with a jade-like sheen.