Fast-forward around seven centuries, and Wu Zetian, Empress of the Tang dynasty, became revered for her good looks, even as she grew older. Her secret was said to be the plant Chinese motherwort, which she mixed with water and applied to her face every day. The empress was so sure of her serum, it was known as her “fairy powder.”
But while people relied on home-made remedies for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 1800s that anti-aging became big business. It was around this time that western scientists began to associate old age with the decaying of the body. And so, many concluded, it should be avoided at all costs.
At the same time, the advertising campaigns for anti-aging products began using scare tactics to sell beauty potions. In 1948, one hormone cream – designed to restore youthfulness – asked potential customers, “How long since he said ‘I love you’?” The commercial continued by promising its use would ignite romance well into consumers’ “advancing years.”