• Home
  • Misc.
  • History Lesson: Centuries Of Anti-Aging Products

History Lesson: Centuries Of Anti-Aging Products

Cleopatra and a capital from Temple of Dendera
1

Cleopatra

Surroundings of Xian (China). Statue of Qinaling,
2

Empress Wu Zetian

La comtesse sanglante : Elizabeth Bathory
3

Elizabeth Báthory

'Mary, Queen of Scots', 16th century.
4

Mary, Queen of Scots

Elisabeth Of Bavaria
5

Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria

Cleopatra and a capital from Temple of Dendera

Cleopatra

Surroundings of Xian (China). Statue of Qinaling,

Empress Wu Zetian

La comtesse sanglante : Elizabeth Bathory

Elizabeth Báthory

'Mary, Queen of Scots', 16th century.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Elisabeth Of Bavaria

Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria

Cleopatra and a capital from Temple of Dendera
Surroundings of Xian (China). Statue of Qinaling,
La comtesse sanglante : Elizabeth Bathory
'Mary, Queen of Scots', 16th century.
Elisabeth Of Bavaria
replies

Every year, come awards season, the same thought inevitably obsesses me: what devil has Cate Blanchett made a pact with, and how does one get a piece of that action? She seems to be aging in reverse—cheekbones rising ever-skyward and pores reduced to the point of invisibility. That is to say nothing of lines or wrinkles (because there aren’t any). I don’t care how expensive or #destinychanging the SK-II system claims to be, but there are supernatural forces at work there, mark my words. While Blanchett (beyond her role as SK-II spokesmodel) continues to remain quiet, maybe it’s best to consider the age-defying routines of days gone by. Ladies in positions of power and prestige have long gone to great lengths to preserve the blush of youth. Here are a few women who may have wondered before their own mirrors if they were the fairest of them all...

Cleopatra

The Egyptian queen is said to have indulged in daily donkey-milk baths, a practice which apparently required over 700 donkeys to accomplish. The alpha hydroxy acids in the milk possessed anti-aging and skin-softening agents, but the story makes one wonder a lot about ancient plumbing and post-cleanse perfumes. For a modern-day alternative, try Elucx Rose Milk Bath Soak that's made with goat’s milk powder and Dead Sea salt.

Empress Wu Zetian

Tang-dynasty ruler and sole female emperor of China, Wu Zetian, maintained a lifelong interest in skincare formulas. She mixed her famed “fairy powder” (made of carefully harvested and prepared Chinese motherwort) with cold water in order to wash her face each morning. It must’ve worked: the empress was a famed beauty well into her old age. While not made with motherwort, Wei’s Chinese Licorice Anti-Aging Color Correction CC Cream helps skin retain radiance by incorporating herbs used in Chinese skincare for thousands of years.

Elizabeth Báthory

The most hair-raising entrant in this list, 16th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory is infamous for being one of the world’s first documented female serial killers. Most of her life is shrouded in mystery and legend—the most famous story being that she would regularly bathe in the blood of her female victims (peasant virgins sent to the Báthory estate to work as maidservants for the beautiful, bloodthirsty countess). Less homicidal is Peter Thomas Roth’s 21st Birthday Kit, a five piece anti-aging set that incorporates Dragon’s Blood Complex, which is a red tree resin found in the Amazon that boosts collagen.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots, the ill-fated and attractive adversary of Elizabeth I, spent her sixteenth-century happier days on her estate in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her beauty regimen was said to include white-wine baths. In addition to wine’s antiseptic alcohol content, it was also was thought to improve complexion in general. Consider it an early, immersive, and slightly more expensive version of Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir.

Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria

This 19th century noblewoman’s self-imposed beauty routine was as rigid and obsessive as they come, including an intense tight-lacing practice that kept her waist smaller than nineteen inches in circumference her entire life. Crème Céleste, a favorite product of Sisi’s, was a concoction of spermaceti (a wax found in the head of sperm whales), sweet almond oil, and rosewater. She would apply this daily (but you may feel more comfortable in Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Cream). At night, she was known to coat her face in raw veal and crushed strawberries, kept in place with a custom-made leather mask. Kind of the opposite of the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack

—Lauren Maas

Images via Getty.

Read more anti-aging stories here.

Interviews, product reviews, and more