Think of the myth of Dangun. The part where a bear endured 21 days inside a cave by eating only mugwort and garlic and transformed into a beautiful woman led to various historical questions and hypotheses. What is important is the use of ‘mugwort and garlic.’ Why does it have to be mugwort and garlic? These herbs have been used for whitening for a long time. Their exceptional skincare benefits may have made them symbols of beauty that even mesmerized Hwan Woong. Attempts to acquire beauty through diet have continued around the world and in various ways. You need quality cosmetic products to have flawlessly bright and radiant skin, but you also need self-discipline. Cosmetic products enhance the condition of your body with enough sleep, healthy exercise, and balanced nutrition. The most important factor, however, is the food you eat. Our ancestors were also aware of this. During the Joseon Dynasty, there were many special medicinal skincare therapies for members of the royalty. Overeating and lack of exercise led to different types of diseases and skin troubles, thus diet therapy is related to skincare. <Donguibogam> mentioned that less seasoned food clears the mind and provides energy. In particular, it was thought that the cause of excess heat on the face was because of ‘eating too many high-calorie foods’ and appropriate actions were taken.
There are also several herbs or food ingredients that are great for skincare. Asparagus cochinchinensis from Liliaceae was known as the ‘youth herb,’ as it replenishes energy and resistance to ensure the firmness and the radiance of the skin. It was also highly recommended to take Bokbunja, peach blossoms, and wisteria vines to achieve beautiful complexion. Benincasa hispida seeds were likewise taken as pellets because they brighten the face and correct flaws such as dark spots and freckles. Hwang Jini, known as the greatest beauty of Joseon, enjoyed ginseng and achieved skin clarity. She brewed ginseng leaves that were filled with saponin to energize skin cells, and enjoyed it as tea. Yang Guifei of Mainland China protected her resilient skin with the collagen in chicken wings, and dealt with bad energy through cupping and meridian massage. Cleopatra enjoyed oysters because it provided her energy and skincare benefits. The nourishing oyster decomposes melanin and acts as an effective whitening agent. ‘Inner beauty’ is not a contemporary idea, but it is part of the wisdom of life that was pursued by many people from many ages ago. It is a reflection of their unwavering efforts and dedication to take care of and redefine their looks.