Beauty Tips From Empress Elisabeth, Nefertiti, Queen Elizabeth I

Fareeha Arshad
Portrait painting of empress Elisabeth of Austria (1854)Public Domain, Source: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons

I agree, each one of us is beautiful just the way we are, yet some people are born pretty — and I don’t mean lovely soul or a pretty mind, I am talking about a pretty face, like the one that makes you reconsider looking at your reflection in the mirror for days.

However, most of us aren’t that lucky. Some of the prettiest faces you have seen result from a large amount of hard work, patience, and several products. History bears witness to the fact that there is always a secret or a personal beauty tip behind the glamorous look somebody wears. Let’s have a look at some of the strange beauty hacks of some of the most beautiful women of all time.

1. Use raw veal based face mask: Empress Elisabeth

One of the most beautiful women of the nineteenth century, Empress Elisabeth of Austria known for her beauty — her flawless skin, and long hair — that became her Achille’s heel and forced her to do things that made her life very difficult for her and for people around her.

For instance, she would use crushed strawberries scrub on her hands and face and always bathe in warm olive oil. To add to the list of her beauty rituals, she would then sleep in a raw veal based facemask. She would spend hours combing her long hair only to tie it up in ribbons that would make her head very heavy, so much so that she would experience frequent cases of headaches and chills.

To keep her hourglass figure, she would eat only to survive the next day. She would consume a stock prepared from chicken, beef, or dear and wear the tightest possible corset available in her closet, which would bring her waist to just twenty inches. To add to her tragically monitored life, she would mostly stay indoors to avoid any intrusion in her beauty routine.

2. Wear a lot of make-up even if it kills you: Nefertiti
A sculpture of Nefertiti.Public Domain, Source: Giovanni/Wikimedia Commons

Nefertiti undeniably was one of the most beautiful women ever to live; her name translated to ‘the beautiful one has come’. The royal women of her time would be buried with their make-up items, and therefore, their beauty hacks could be easily traced back to their tombs.

The Egyptian Queen wore wigs and was otherwise bald. Not only that, she would make sure to shave her entire body to avoid any traces of hair anywhere. In addition, she would cover her eyes with kohl and frequently used lipstick to bring out her eyes. However, the Egyptian kohl was made from lead, while the lipsticks contained bromine mannite — both of which are highly poisonous compounds. It’s also highly likely that these toxic elements could have caused her health deterioration over the years.

3. Apply lead foundation: Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I. A painting by Henry Gillard Glindoni.Public Domain, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nefertiti wasn’t the only one to use lead as one of her make-up items. History is filled with women who depended on lead to enhance their physical appearance. For example, Queen Elizabeth I was known to dab her entire body with lead to make herself appear presentable.

In her late twenties, Elizabeth was contracted smallpox that left scary scars all over her body, including her face. To avoid her spots being visible in public, she covered every inch of her body with a popular skin product available at the time called the Venetian ceruse, which was a concoction of vinegar with lead compounds that made the applier appear porcelain white. The Queen applied so much that nobody would recognize her without this ‘beauty product’. This Venetian ceruse could likely have been the reason behind Queen Elizabeth’s death.

4. Apply cake batter on your face: Marie Antoinette
Marie-Antoinette in full court dress (1778). A painting by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.Public Domain, Source: Yann Caradec/Wikimedia Commons

The French Queen Marie Antoinette was infamous for the cake batter she would prepare…only to apply on her face before bedtime. The special facemask consisted of brandy, eggs, milk powder, and lemon that she would use each night. Finally, she would wash her face with stewed pigeon water that worked as a deep cleanser to brighten her face in the morning.

Being the Queen of France, Antoinette felt compelled not to repeat any of her dresses; she spent over 120,000 Livres only on her clothes that sum up to over present-day four million dollars. Also, like many women of her time, she would trace the veins on her skin with a blue pen to give a translucent appearance and highlight the whiteness of her body.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

Texas State

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