I had the pleasure of visiting the Château de Chenonceau this September, which is really one of the most magnificent places in the world – if you have a chance to go, I urge you to do so. Chenonceau is called the ladies château due to the fact that it was inhabited by a number of remarkable women, not the least of whom was Diane de Poitiers (1500 – 1566), mistress of King Henri II.
Diane was exceptional for a number of reasons – she wielded more power, for a time, than the queen herself, and was a remarkable 20 years senior to her young paramour who absolutely worshipped her. Her beauty is the stuff of legends, and some of her beauty secrets have been passed down to us today.
One of her most famous beauty rituals was that of bathing in ice-cold water. Today, at Chenonceau, you can still see where she was lowered into the freezing cold Cher river to bathe daily. Now why, you may ask, did beautiful Diane bathe in frigid water?
Just like Scandinavians and Russians have known for centuries, cold water is your skin and hair’s best friend. When you bathe or shower in warm water, your pores open, but when you bathe in cold water, your pores close, creating a smoother effect. Cold water is said to tone the skin and keep it young-looking, and also does wonders for bringing in color and life. Rinsing your hair with cold water after washing it will also help to seal the hair cuticle, giving it increased shine, and stimulate the scalp, thus stimulating hair growth.
I’ve been using this practice for a few years now, and I have to say, it really does work, and also leaves me feeling very awake ! I shower normally first, with warm (but never hot) water, and then at the end of my shower, turn on the cold water gradually until it’s as cold as I can bear it. In the morning, I also give light pinches and slaps to my face to get the blood flowing and reduce puffiness around my eyes and cheeks. If you don’t have Russian blood like I do and can’t stand the freezing cold, cool water is fine. You’ll find that if you cool the water gradually, you’ll be able to bear it much better. This also has the advantage, in winter, of making you feel just a little bit warmer when you get out of the shower (as opposed to a hot shower that has you running full speed for your towel !). The whole thing basically works on the Finnish sauna principle : cold, hot, cold, hot.
Diane, at 40 and even 50 was said to have been the most beautiful woman in France…. in an age when most women, by 25, were past their primes – so get in your shower and let the cold water run !
XX La Coquette