The Beauty Secrets of Mme. du Barry
One of the great beauties of her time, the notorious Comtesse du Barry led a scandalous life that culminated with her becoming maîtresse-en-titre to the aging Louis IV in the French court. Born on the wrong side of the blanket to a seamstress and a friar, the young Jeanne Bécu fell into the life of a courtesan until she caught the king’s roving eye.
Blessed with lustrous blonde locks, gorgeous violet eyes and a porcelain complexion, du Barry used her looks to her advantage and managed to maintain her beauty until her tragic end on the guillotine. Although her dubious lifestyle and relatively early death at age 50 may make her appear to be not the best anti-aging candidate worthy of emulation, we should remember that it was the 18th century.
Then, I read some more about Mme. du Barry in Joan Haslip’s biography and realized a few things. First, her sordid career choice, if you can call it that, wasn’t exactly her choice. Her family forced her into it. Second, she didn’t really have too many options at that time since careers for women pretty much didn’t exist. If your own family wasn’t helping you get married, you weren’t going to be a respectable missus.
Even becoming a nun required a dowry. Third, getting the maîtresse-en-titre position got du Barry out of the whole courtesan circle. So, I feel it’s best to just accept she was pushed down a certain sad road, but that she did get some relief from it for a while in a sort of common-law marriage.
Plus, du Barry was a kind person who:
- Pleaded with the king for the lives of the condemned and elderly Comte and Comtesse de Lousene;
- Intervened for a woman accused of infanticide when she’d borne a stillborn child;
- Forgave and assisted the same aristocracy who had snubbed her as lowborn when they became refugees during the French Revolution.
Considering her rather sordid lifestyle, quite miraculously, she stayed pretty and fresh and with her own hair color right up to her gruesome guillotine death at age 50. Living as she did in the 18th century, a time known for terrible hygiene and horrible skin diseases. What were this fabulous beauty’s anti-aging secrets? They were, as follows:
- Cold baths. Every morning. This probably also helped her stay healthy and certainly would have stimulated collagen production, blood circulation (which helps with keeping your hair its own color!) and toned muscles.
- Honey masks. A honey pack on your face is anti-bacterial and moisturizing. It would help keep infections and acne away, while minimizing wrinkles.
- A rather fabulous-sounding hair wash to help her hair stay a lovely blonde, specifically, a blend of saffron, turmeric, polypodium fern roots, St. John’s Wort, Gentian, citrin-colored sandalwood and rhubarb. It must have smelled and tasted delicious!
Try any or all of these, and stay fresh and healthy and pretty like Mme. du Barry!
Just don’t get guillotined…
Usual disclaimer: As always, if you want to try any of these anti-aging treatments, check with your doctor and test for allergies. And if you’re a sensitive soul prone to nightmares or insomnia, don’t read about guillotines.
Article by Amina Mirza, a native Washingtonian interested in history, literature and natural beauty treatments.