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The Amazing Beauty Secrets of Empress Sisi

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Empress Sisi was Extremely Beautiful

If I were to ask you to name the most beautiful woman in history, I am sure, you would come up with many options.

You would probably start with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, who was (and still today) heralded as the greatest of all beauties. You may also name Helen of Troy, who had the ‘face that launched a thousand ships.

And if you know something about Asian beauties, how can you ever forget the breathtakingly beautiful Queen Padmavathi from the Mewer Kingdom in India? It is said that Padmavathi was so beautiful that if she had paan(a concoction made of betel leaf and areca nuts), you could see the betel nut leaf juice going down her throat.

But have you ever heard of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, nicknamed Sisi? Sisi was one of the most beautiful women of her time, and she kept it like that by practicing one of the most demanding beauty regimens of her time that would even put today’s fanatically body-conscious celebrities to shame.

She was one of the first women to practice gymnastics and have a dedicated exercise routine to maintain her shape. And she never looked older than 30 ever in her life. In fact, she could not even stand the thought of getting old, as she wrote in her diary.

“Ah, the horror of growing old, to feel the hand of time laid upon one’s body, to watch the skin wrinkling, to awake and fear the morning light, and to know that one is no longer desirable! Life without beauty would be worthless to me.”

Sisi kept herself in ship shape by maintaining a stringent beauty regime in the following areas:

  1. Hair
  2. Exercise Routine
  3. Skincare
  4. Diet

1. Hair

Her ankle-length hair was her pride, even though the weight of which used to give her frequent headaches.

Taking care of the hair was a full-time job for a hairdresser that used to take at least 5-6 hours. After dressing, braiding, and pinning for hours, each of the fallen strands of hair would have to be presented to the empress for inspection. If too many had broken off, Sisi would get upset, and the hairdresser must start her work all over again.

After the hair is done to the empress’s satisfaction, it would be sprayed with Creed’s Fantasia de Fleurs EDP, a heady floral fragrance created especially for the Empress, with a regal bouquet of the best Bulgarian roses and Florentine irises. Again, washing the hair was a time-consuming daylong ritual that happened every fortnight with a mixture of cognac and egg yolk.

2. Exercise Routine

She had a 19-inch waist which she maintained through a rigorous exercise routine.

The empress was obsessed with gymnastics and had a gymnastics room specially built at the palace. She would be seen dangling for hours in the chains every morning and evening.

Besides gymnastics, the empress would ride horses every day for hours on end, becoming the world’s best female equestrian at the time. And if that were not enough, she would spend the remaining time going for long walks in the countryside that sometimes may even go up to 10 hours at a stretch!

And at night, Sisi was heavily massaged with cloths soaked in either violet or cider vinegar, while her neck was wrapped with cloths soaked in Kummerfeld-toned washing water. We are not sure if that relieved her of her body aches, but the next morning at 4 AM, she would all set to start her next day’s grueling routine.

3. Skincare

Sisi was a skincare fanatic who experimented with a wide variety of lotions and pastes to keep her skin translucent and flawless.

For example, she applied raw veal (yes, I am not joking!) on her skin at night. She also used a special moisturizer made up of lard, marshmallow roots, and ground slugs that took 4 hours to make every time. Her cold cream was made with beeswax, sweet almond oil, rosewater, and cocoa butter in a secret proportion known by none except her chemist and Sisi.

There were separate lotions for summer, winter, and spring months, and each lotion would have specially plucked ingredients from plants all over Europe. In fact, one of her lotions, Cream Celeste, is a thick concoction of spermaceti, cera alba, and sweet almond oil. The Glycerin she used to moisturize her skin during the cold winter months was so difficult to make that its manufacturing started during the summer months only to get it ready by winter.

And bathing, of course, was very special to her. She enjoyed bathing and spent hours washing her body in warm water infused with olive oil. The Empress bathed in goat's milk once a week, and she reportedly traveled with a herd of goats to ensure a fresh supply.

4. Diet

Throughout her life, Sisi was fanatical about maintaining her figure and was constantly in diet mode.

She abhorred eating meat and would prefer drinking the juice of half-raw beefsteaks squeezed into a thin soup or pressed extract of chicken, partridge, venison, and beef. Besides these thin soups, she would only eat eggs, oranges, or raw milk throughout the day.

In the last days of her life, when age began to tell on her, she became even more obsessed with her figure. She started weighing herself thrice a day, ate and drank only milk, egg whites, and oranges, and pushed herself to do physical activities beyond her endurance.

The combination of grueling physical activity coupled with a low diet proved disastrous for her. Her joints were already aching from poor nutrition, and hours of exercise often incited migraines, leaving her dangerously exhausted all the time.

Her Later Years

After the age of thirty, Sisi refused to be photographed with her face constantly covered by fans or parasols whenever she used to go out. In fact, the photographers (read paparazzi) of that era were so frustrated that they started putting ‘wrinkles’ on her existing photographs to get her latest look.

But Sisi would have none of it. She was a compulsive narcissist who loved herself. And aging can never happen to her; that was her attitude right until her demise. The Empress became a prisoner of her own beauty and gradually withdrew from public life in later years.

On September 10, 1898, the then 60-year-old empress was on her way to a steamer ship in Geneva, Switzerland, when she was stabbed by an Italian anarchist. Sisi crumpled to the ground but managed to get to her feet and reach the ship before losing consciousness.

The empress was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. Today, the world remembers her as one of Europe’s most fascinating and beautiful women, with even the iconic fashion brand Chanel naming a fashion collection after her.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Ravi Rajan


Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:

Thanks Misbah for your comments

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on April 19, 2021:

Ravi, this is a very interesting and informative article about the most beautiful queen, Sisi. Well- researched too. Thank you for sharing it. I enjoyed reading about her.


Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 19, 2021:

All, please do take some time to comment on this article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 18, 2021:

All please feel free to comment

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 20, 2021:

Thanks, Vanita for the nice bit of trivia about the Vadodara queens.

Vanita Thakkar on March 20, 2021:

Oh God !! What a life !!

Interesting information about this unheard queen. Thanks for sharing.

During my visit to the Amer fort in Rajasthan, I saw passages especially meant for carrying the queens around on wheel-chair like trolleys, as they wore heavy gold embroidered clothes and the gold jewelry they wore weighed as much as 25kg or more which made walking too difficult for them .... What an overladen queenhood, I wondered that reduces beautiful ladies into show pieces !! ....

Thankfully, things have changed for good these days. I have met the ladies of the Royal family of Vadodara, as also some other old princely states of Gujarat - very elegant, intelligent ladies, taking lead roles in various useful social, environmental, artistic initiatives ....

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks Tuli

Tulii Banerjee from Kolkata on March 19, 2021:

Interesting article Ravi, well researched. I didn't hear about queen Sisi. Thank you so much for this informative article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks miebakagh for your comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks manatita for your comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 19, 2021:

ravirajan01, all the ways she took to stay her beauty fail in latdr years. hope she never heard about the philosopher stone?

manatita44 from london on March 19, 2021:

You work is exquisite and I won't want to take anything away from it. Yet it portrays a cold, callous and narcissistic woman obsessed with ego and attachments. Two of the five cardinal sins in yoga. In fact, add greed and lust and that makes it 4/5.

Like all things in God's creation, opulence has its purpose as does outer beauty. Yet the inner beauty must have suffered tremendously from outer insecurity-a longing to be loved. God still took her early. Sad

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks, Chitrangada for your comments. Of course, Maharani Gayatri Devi is matchless.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 19, 2021:

Interesting information about the most beautiful queen, Sisi. Thank you for enlightening me about her.

In recent times, I have always admired Maharani Gayatri Devi, especially her lifestyle.

Thank you for sharing this interesting article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks Liz.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 19, 2021:

I had not heard of this queen before. It sounds like she was ahead of her time in some of her beauty and fitness regime.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks Rosina

Rosina S Khan on March 19, 2021:

This is an interesting account of Empress Sisi and the variety of ways she preserved her beauty. Thanks for sharing, Ravi. Really intriguing!

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 19, 2021:

Thanks Ann.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 19, 2021:

I'm surprised she had time to do anything else! Fascinating detail.