All civilizations, ancient or modern had their own conceptions on beauty. Each developed a unique standard of its own utterly different from the other. The Chinese civilization was no exception. Chinese women had their own beauty secrets. In 2003 a bone hairpin, comb and box of white face powder, were unearthed from a Tang Dynasty tomb!
The seven steps of makeup from the Tang dynasty are famous. Powder base, applying colour, darkening eye-brow, applying forehead gold, painting the dimples, decorating the cheeks and applying lip colour were those. Women shove their natural eyebrows during the Han and Tang dynasties. The practice of pencilling eyebrows began much earlier.
Although beauty concepts and secrets changed over time, there were some accepted criteria of beauty. Black shiny hair, finely shaped eyebrows, bright eyes, white teeth, red lips, slender waist, fragrant body etc. were held in high esteem in the ancient Chinese society.
Sun glow was a practice of applying dots of different shapes on the cheek. It was initially used by concubines but later became an accepted practice among the people. Repeated rolling of good quality jade on the face came into vogue.
Lip balm was also used by Chinese women in ancient days. The raw material was vermilion which was produced in various Chinese provinces. Mineral wax or animal fat was added to it so that it lasts longer. Rouge was also used for adding beauty to the lips. After Sui and Tang dynasties, lip balm became solid in shape. Flavours were also added.
It was around 3000 BC that the Chinese began to stain their fingernails with various materials. The colours used represented the status or class of an individual. The rich and the wealthy wore gold or silver. Gelatine, Beeswax and Egg were commonly used.
Ancient China Makeup and Beauty Secrets
Any discussion on Ancient China Makeup and Beauty Secrets is incomplete without a mention of the four beauties or the four great beauties. They were admired as the most beautiful women of all times. The first was Xi Shi who lived from the seventh to sixth century BC whose efforts helped Yue win the war against Wu. The second was Wang Zhaojun who lived the Western Han dynasty.
Diaochan lived during the late eastern Han dynasty period and Yang Yuyhuan during the Tang dynasty. It is said that Yang Yuyhuan used litchi, rich in protein, vitamin B and C, phosphorus and iron, which all bubbled away in her regular hot spring bath. These women were not only praised for their beauty, but also for the heroism and courage.
Daji, the concubine of the tyrannous King Zhou of Shang and Baosi, the concubine of King You of Zhou were also beautiful, but they were condemned for their actions.
Empress Dowager Cixi was known for her beauty techniques. She applied face powder and skin cream every morning. Before sleep, she would apply egg white and flower extract on her face. She also used a jade face roller. Empress Wu Zetian, a Taoist believed that possession of good thoughts was the prerequisite for beauty.