Recently, I was googling vain women of history and came across two who (strangely) share a similar name, nearly the same length of reign and an obsession with their beauty. They are the Empress Dowager of China, Queen Cixi, who ruled for forty eight years and the Empress of Austria, Queen Sisi, who ruled for forty four years. Both left a legacy of beauty secrets though today, I will only look at Cixi.
Cixi entered the Qing palace at the age of seventeen as a xiunu, the lowest-ranking of imperial concubines, and rose to the position of empress dowager on the death of Emperor Xianfeng. She held the reins of political power for forty eight years and was the key figure leading to the downfall of the Qing Dynasty.
Queen Cixi was fastidious about costume, diet, cosmetics and entertainment. She used all the resources and the best doctors at the time to turn her skin white, relieve wrinkles and keep her hair black. She had many secret prescriptions for beauty which included the production of soap, skin lotion, hair treatments and healthy food. Her beauty habits included keeping sliced ginseng in her mouth to nourish her body and eating pearl powder and flower food (food made of flower and other food materials) as nutrients every day. It is recorded that “Empress Dowager Cixi likes to eat walnut ejiao (donkey-hide gelatin obtained from the skin of the donkey by soaking and stewing – used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine – eek!), so her skin is still smooth when she gets old.” According to Materia Medica for Dietotherapy (traditional Chinese medicine book): “Walnut gives people fine and smooth skin”. It describes the beautifying effects of walnut and ejiao which can nourish one’s heart and kidneys. The combination of the two was deemed a winning beauty recipe by the Queen.
The tip I believe is easiest to fulfill nowadays and which I actively practice is the following: Empress Dowager Cixi believed that massage preserves beauty. She would hold a smooth T-shaped massage roller (the horizontal bar is a scrollable axle), starting from the forehead, then cheeks, philtrum, and lower jaw, rolling gently until the skin sweats a bit. While the roller moves over the face, it promotes blood circulation and relaxes tired skin. Regular use of it supposedly prevents wrinkles and induces a more attractive complexion. Queen Cixi used a jade roller – a stone that never warms. You can actually purchase jade rollers on amazon today!
I have several of these rollers and roll my face, my neck, my hands and my knees. They are extremely decorative and make excellent Christmas gifts (and they come with a fab story!). However, the brass grips holding the roller are often weak so I advise ordering several at one time. Happy rolling ladies! We may not be queens but we can always act like one…
Follow me in the top left corner for a daily (usually!) anti-aging tip. You too can be as luscious as a goddess and as ageless as a vampire! Check out my ebook on amazon: The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Aging.