Ancient Chinese Beauty Secrets

The Chinese have many beauty secrets to keep their skin fresh, supple, smooth, bright and firm. Looking through historical accounts of just a handful of empresses and concubines, many ancient Chinese women utilize similar beauty treatments. While some incorporated unique ingredients formulated to their particular needs and results.


Empress Wu Zetian (624-705) of the Tang Dynasty, ascended to the throne at 65 years of age. Wu came from a wealthy noble family and was educated to write and read. At the young age of 14 she became Emperor Tanizong’s concubine. She was intelligent and driven, to a point where she would sacrifice her own family members for her royal positioning. Although it’s debatable on her ruthless manor, she was the only woman who ever ruled the Chinese empire. And she did so with both beauty and brains. Given her driven behavior, you can bet she also used any and every means to maintain her appearance in order to use it to her advantage.

At the time Wu took the throne she was thought to have the skin of a much younger woman. One of her beauty secrets, known today as an amazing beauty product is pearl powder. Wu would apply powder externally as well as internally. Pearl powder is primarily made up of calcium carbonate, proteins, amino acids, and conchiolin. Taking a look at each of the ingredients you can see how pearl powder is very beneficial to the skin. Calcium carbonate is primarily used as an exfoliation ingredient as well as a neutralizer to the skin’s pH balance when an acid is included in a solution. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are primarily used in hair products for color treated hair. Conchiolin is a skin moisturizer. And when mixed with bio-activated Silicium (an anti-inflammatory with skin healing attributes), pearl powder protects the skin against free radicals, moisturizers, assists with cell regeneration and skin elasticity. Interestingly, Cleopatra from Ancient Egypt also included pearl powder in her beauty regime. Although Wu was very controversial, her beauty regime is

Another famous concubine in Chinese ancient history is Yang Yuhuan, (713-756) and she is considered one of the most famous amoung the legends. She was a renowned for her amazing porcelain skin. Yang Yuhuan attained this prominence by commonly bathed in hot springs to keep her delicate skin youthful. Hot springs generate mineral water by dissolving the layers of mineral rich rocks with warm water. The properties are different based on the region and the rocks themselves, but the mineral composition result in many benefits. Bathing in trace minerals can provide healing effects when absorbed by the body. They can simulate the immune system, relax the muscles and normalize gland function. They can also help with skin abrasions and infections. Another benefit of Mineral springs is that they are known to contain negative ions. Negative ions are natural molecules that are believed to increase serotonin, which can help lift mood and treat depression.

Yang Yuhuan also ate fresh lychee fruits containing high amounts of vitamin C, as well as vitamin B, phosphorus and iron. Interestingly, Yang Yuhaun would also gently massage different parts of her face and body to stimulate blood flow of the body and to absorption her beauty regimes. We often do not think of the face with muscles, but there are many spas that elect to utilize the facial muscles as a anti-aging treatment. These include acupuncture for the face, micro-current electric. The face has several muscles and just like the rest of the body and the facial muscles also can adhere to stress, strains and need to be massaged and exercised to maintain the muscle profile. Starting any beauty regime with a massage can be very beneficial to the skin especially with product absorption. Yang knew the benefits of both external and internal beauty regimes.

Another notorious legend amoung the Ancient Chinese texts is the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835 to 1908) who had many beauty secrets.   To nourish her body and skin, she would put a slice of ginseng in her mouth, walnut, ejiao, eat pearl powder, eight treasure ointment and floral herbs. She also utilized facial massages with a roller to promote blood circulations, exercise her muscles and prevent wrinkles. Every morning the Empress would apply a mixture of powder pearls and a flower distillate skin cream.

While at night, she would apply a mixture of egg white with pearl powder. Her mask’s regime would to place the mixture on the face kept it a half an hour before sleep for at least thirty minutes. Another important process to her beauty regime was to pat her wet face dry with soft towels. Then she would apply flower extracts to her freshly cleaned skin. After her skin was nourished each morning she would use a jade face roller to cool and smooth her face before dressing. High-quality jade is believed by many to have natural health-enhancing functions similar to a massage by repeatedly rolling it on the face. For those who believe in crystal and stone powers, jade is considered to be healing and protective. Jade was used in jewelry and also other ornamental items such as vases and statues. Ancient China valued jade’s metaphysical power to access the spiritual world and to enhance one’s creative insight. The Ancient Chinese also believed jade had powers to heal the kidney and bladder. Both of these organs extract waste from the body. This was also believed to help do the same for the skin.

Let’s also examine a few of the Ancient ingredients used throughout Ancient China that are still popular today.

Chinese Teas

It’s no surprise that white, green and black teas were used to promote general wellness in Ancient China.

  • White tea undergoes less processing than green or black team and contains the same types of antioxidants as green tea, but in greater quantity. White tea has a high blend of polyphenols with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antimicrobial qualities and nutritional properties. It’s also currently being research to show it’s anticancer properties as compared to other more processed teas. White tea is more delicate is less heat tolerate and can loose it’s benefits should it be over heated.
  • Green tea is made with steamed tealeaves and has a high amount of EGCG or a polyphenol called spigallocatechin-3-gallate. EGCG is currently being studied for it’s superior effects to fight free radicals and fight cancerous cells. Green tea has a high blend of polyphenols with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and nutritional properties. It’s been studies more than white tea, but has been linked to stop the growth of various cancers, preventing clogged arteries, counteract oxidative stress, improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke and neurological disorders.
  • Black tea is made with fermented tealeaves and usually contains the highest amount of caffeine. Although the studies haven’t found the same amount of benefits, it may have some benefits such as reducing the risk of stroke and protect the lungs from environment and smoke damage.
  • Oolong tea has long been sold as a weight loss tea but unfortunately science has yet to proved it. Although some studies have shown to lower bad cholesterol levels.

However it’s important to note that each of these teas have different warming instructions as white and green tea are more delicate and can not take heating over 400 degrees, otherwise they’ll loose those important benefits.

Chinese Mushrooms

Another Ancient Chinese ingredient used in beauty regimes was the mushroom. The mushroom is anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenci (anti-mutation of imperfections or free radicals). It’s apart of many herbal medicine recipes for allergies, arthritis, detoxification, blood cleansing and assistance with the regulation of blood pressure. Using tea internally and externally can bring great benefits to your skin.

One particular interesting Chinese mushroom is called the Tremella or the snow fungus. It contains a high level of Vitamin D and is considered a wonderful moisturizing ingredient. It also contains several antioxidants that benefit the skins renewal process.

Chinese Soy Protein

Soy protein is often found in the Chinese diet and can help reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin as well as the over all tone of the skin when applied topically. A legend exists today of the Chinese soybean factory workers who handled soy regulatory would have beautiful smooth, even toned skin.

Chinese Rice

Obviously rice is an instrumental ingredient in the Chinese diet. But it’s also well known that Chinese women use fermented rice water to beautify the skin and hair. It’s helpful to hair as it conditions, acts as a protein builder to help color treated hair that has been stripped as well as to help detangle longer hair. The fermented rice water lowers the pH level similar to the hair’s pH level, which helps the strands as well as the scalp to promote healthy hair growth.

Fermented rice water has the vitamin Inositol, apart of the Vitamin B group. It’s known to assist with the health of cell membranes and helps improve with hair loss or fall out. When washing your hair with fermented rice water, it’s said that the Inosital vitamin will not wash out and helps with the protein building necessary in damaged hairs.

For the skin, fermented rice water is moisturizing, provides the skin antioxidants, improves circulation, pore reducer and can even fade or prevent sunspots. It’s often found in products to clean and tone the skin. You can even use a portion of the solution to soak in a warm bath (but not too hot). Feel free to add other ingredients with the bath soak like herbal oils, milk or honey to enhance the skin’s moisture.

To make fermented rice water, use 1 part uncooked rice with 2 parts water. Let the rice water soak for 24 to 48 hours. The fermentation process will be faster if the temperature is warner. Then boil the strained water to stop the fermentation process. Use it as a mask for the skin or hair for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Store leftovers in the fridge. It should keep for about a week before the solution begins to develop bacteria. Through out after a week as the bacteria will derail the previously mentioned benefit.

Incorporate these Ancient Chinese beauty secrets into your daily and weekly routines to enhance your skin’s beautiful appearance.  It may take several weeks to see the difference, so be sure to keep them going for best results.

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2 thoughts on “Ancient Chinese Beauty Secrets

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