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Beauty in history

The Beauty Secrets of Madame du Barry

Hello lovelies!

Madame du Barry came to my mind recently because of the Cannes’ Festival. Indeed, there was a film about her directed by a French director named Maïwenn, starring herself and Johnny Depp. The film was controversial and severely criticized. So, I thought that I had to write an article about Jeanne du Barry because of that.

Also, last week, I saw that her former neoclassical music pavillon in Louveciennes was put to sale for 44 million euro! If you’re interested, you must that this is a pure architectural jewel.

Anyway, Jeanne du Barry always fascinated me because of her beauty and her fabulous destiny, especially her ascension from poverty to being the last maitresse-en-titre of King Louis XV. I’ve always thought she was born at the wrong era. Today, she would have been acclaimed as a modern-day Cinderella…or even the manifestation of the American dream!

Let’s examine the intense life of Madame du Barry, as well as her beauty secrets!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission whenever you click on the links and purchase the products, with no additional cost to you.

Who is Madame du Barry?


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Her birth and education

The life of Madame du Barry didn’t start on a bed of roses. Born Jeanne Bécu in 1743 in Vaucouleurs, she was the illegitimate daughter of a monk called Frère Ange and of Anne Bécu, a seamstress. Anne Bécu was an extraordinarily beautiful woman who passed on her beauty and charms to her daughter.

Later, Anne Bécu had a relationship with a rich financier who took care of her financially. This enabled Anne to send little Jeanne in a religious boarding school led by nuns. She was a good student and stayed there until she reached 15. She had already blossomed as a very beautiful young woman.

Her early professional life

Afterwards, Anne Bécu tried to insert her daughter into the workforce. And unfortunately, Jeanne discovered the power of her beauty, for better and for worse…

First, Anne Bécu sent her daughter as an apprentice in a hair salon. There, she learnt how to groom hair and how to use hair to enhance the facial features of her clients. This skill would be very useful later when she would become a maitresse-en-titre.

There, she had an affair with her boss who showered her with gifts. Unfortunately, her boss went bankrupt and Jeanne was kicked out of his life by his mother who called her “a dirty little whore” (sale petite pute in French).

After this first mishap, her mother found her a position as a reader and lady-in-waiting in the household of an aristocrat woman. However, her new boss soon found out that Jeanne had an affair with her two brothers, who were both married. Therefore, she immediately fired her.

Then, she landed a job as a saleswoman in a fashion boutique called La Toilette, in a chic neighborhood of Paris. In that boutique, she met many aristocrats who came to shop there and she emulated their manners and style. Eventually, she met a man called Jean-Baptiste du Barry who would soon change her life.

High-class prostitute

Indeed, she became her lover but he soon started to prostitute her to his noble friends. We can say that her lover became her pimp. That’s how she became a high-class prostitute who worked under the moniker “Mademoiselle Lange”, after her father. She quickly became a “sexpert” and her reputation grew. She even had a net worth equivalent to 5,3 million euro before she became a maitresse-en-titre!

The grooming 

While she worked as a courtesan, she entertained one of her most important clients: the Duke of Richelieu. The latter was an extremely well-connected nobleman, and a ferocious aging libertine. Also, he constantly conspired to have a higher position near the king.

When he met Jeanne, he realized that she could be the key to opening a whole new world of opportunities for him. He talked to Jean du Barry about putting Jeanne into Louis XV’s bed. Then, they started to groom Jeanne to become an acceptable maitresse-en-titre. She was beautiful and intelligent, but this wasn’t enough as she wasn’t an aristocrat. Consequently, Jeanne took many lessons: etiquette, art of conversation, genealogies of major French noble families…

When Jeanne was ready, they introduced her to Lebel, the king’s senior valet. He was the closest king’s confidant and took care of many of his intimate matters, including “trying” potential lovers before introducing them to the king. Once he “tried” Jeanne, he was convinced of her feminine qualities and decided to put her in a place where the king would notice her. And it worked!


The king noticed her and summoned her in his bedroom. And she never left it till his death! She amazed the king because of her kindness, her beauty, and her “sexpertise”. Soon, he wanted to make Jeanne his maitresse-en-titre but she wasn’t married and wasn’t a noblewoman. Consequently, she married Jean du Barry’s brother who was a count; and that’s how she earned her title of “Comtesse du Barry”. Afterwards, the king paid one of his acquaintances to introduce Jeanne to the court. Thus, she became his official maitresse-en-titre from that moment.

Her life at Versailles

Despite her triumph, she had some difficulties at the Court. Many aristocrats were jealous of her beauty and despised her because of her humble origins. And there’s more: she was in constant competition with the new Dauphine, Marie-Antoinette. There was a catfight between those two ladies on who was the more beautiful and who was the more elegant.

Because of the comments of the King’s daughters, Marie-Antoinette didn’t want to talk to Madame du Barry. She even boasted about it in a letter to her mother and it truly irritated the king in the long run. Soon, Marie-Antoinette’s mother ordered her to talk to Madame du Barry and to obey the king. Then, one day, she met Madame du Barry and told her: “Il y a bien du monde aujourd’hui à Versailles” (Versailles is crowded today). And that was it.

During that period, Madame du Barry‘s life was a literal fairy tale. Louis XV showered her with many gifts and jewels. She also commissioned her music pavillon I talked about in the intro during that time. Unfortunately, King Louis XV died in 1774 from a smallpox crisis. After his death, the new King Louis XVI and the new Queen Marie-Antoinette kicked her out of the court and sent her to a convent.

Later life

Upon the intervention of her friends, the King released her from the convent and sent her back to her estate in Louveciennes. As she was rich, she lived the high life with her friends and found love again with the Duke of Brissac. Thus, she had an easy life until the French Revolution.

At that moment, all the aristocrats were targeted. Madame du Barry was especially a primary target because she was the mistress of the late King Louis XV. However, she refused to leave Louveciennes and stayed with her lover. Unfortunately, the Duke of Brissac was mirdered in 1792, his corpse was decapitated and his head was sent to Madame du Barry. Awful!

In 1793, she lost her jewels and went to England to recover them. Upon her return to France, she was arrested and judged as an active support of royalists who emigrated abroad to flee the Revolution. The jury found her guilty and decided that she should be executed. She died on December 8, 1793. Before being guillotined, she screamed: “Encore un moment, Monsieur le bourreau!” (Wait a moment, Mister Executioner).

Her physical appearance


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According to all her acquaintances, friends and foes, Madame du Barry was strikingly beautiful. She had beautiful blue eyes, long blond hair, a pearly white skin, and a curvaceous body. As she had a sweet tooth, she gained weight in her later years but her beauty remained intact.

But her true secret was her character. She had a kind and sweet spirit, and never wished harm to anyone. For this reason, she always won everyone she met, especially men.

All the beauty secrets of Madame du Barry


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Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many beauty secrets of Madame du Barry because many French historians insist on her “sexpertise”. However, I found that she had regular honey facials to treat her skin and took a perfumed bath everyday.

She had very beautiful hair and introduced high hairdos that would be so shocking during the era of Marie-Antoinette. Otherwise, she also wore wigs because they were fashionable at the Court of Versailles during that period.

In addition, Madame du Barry introduced a more natural look at Versailles, as she enjoyed some of the writings of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, such as Emile ou de l’Education. She didn’t like formal dresses too much because they prevent her body to move freely. She preferred silk, satin, or taffeta negligés.

Also, the rumor has it that she enjoyed staying naked in her private apartments, but shhh…

Madame du Barry’s beauty trivia


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Once again, our beauty trivia on Madame du Barry refers to her “sexpertise”. After her bath, Madame du Barry perfumed her private parts with a perfumed blend called “Le Baptême Ambré”.

Now ladies, I don’t recommend to emulate Madame du Barry in this. Indeed, perfuming your private parts can potentially burn you down there and disturbs your vaginal flora. So, it’s potentially dangerous. I repeat, don’t do this at home!

What we can learn from Madame du Barry


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“Beauty is power; a smile is its sword” – John Ray

Madame du Barry is the perfect example where beauty is a powerful weapon. It was a blessing because it brought her wealth, power, and honor. However, as we saw in her early years, her beauty was also a curse because she created chaos in families and at her workplace. That’s why we need to favor discipline in beauty, without making it lethal to our fellow men.

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years” – Audrey Hepburn

As we saw earlier, Madame du Barry was strikingly beautiful. But the more I studied her life, the more I was convinced that her true beauty came from within. Her kindness, her gentleness, and her generosity enhanced her facial features which were already perfect. Consequently, men continued to be fascinated by her, even when she was in her 40s (she died at 50).

Thus, true beauty is not only about cosmetics and routine; it’s also about having a kind heart which reflects on your countenance and your face. Thus, true beauty really comes from within. And if someone tells you otherwise, remind him/her of the example of Madame du Barry.

Well, that’s it for today! What do you think about the beauty secrets of Madame du Barry? Feel free to share your point of view in the comments below!

Take care!

Click here to receive my free ebook on the 9 time-tested secrets to eternal youth.

Learn more about Madame du Barry

If you want to go further about Madame du Barry’s life and times:

Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty by Joan Haslip

The Creation of the French Royal Mistress: From Agnes Sorel to Madame du Barry by Tracy Adams and Christine Adams


If you speak French, you can look for the documentary of a TV show called Secrets d’Histoire – La Du Barry: coup de foudre à Versailles (try to see if they have English subtitles). The documentary is available on YouTube

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  1. Tony says:

    Thank you for this riveting article about Madame du Barry’s beauty secrets. As a history enthusiast with an interest in beauty routines, this exploration of her regimen was both enlightening and fascinating.

    Your narration beautifully captures the extravagant nature of beauty routines in the past while also pointing out the common threads that tie them to modern skincare practices.

    1. admin says:

      Thanks Tony!

  2. Michel Maling says:

    This is the first time I have heard of Madam du Barry and it was really interesting to read her life story. A true rags to riches life she led. It is difficult to find the beauty secrets of the women who lived in this time period as I don’t think that was an important topic to write about in those days, as well as the fact that products then were very limited. Many of the famous women of the time were naturally beautiful and didn’t need too much help in that department I don’t think. 

    1. admin says:

      Dear Michel thanks for your comment ! But I disagree with you because women relied on many tricks…

  3. Jenny says:

    Wow great article! She really possessed some beauty secrets. While her methods might have been considered unconventional by some, they were obviously undeniably effective. I have heard that to enhance her complexion, she was known to apply rouge (blush) and use powders on her face porcelain-like complexion. But how was her status as a prostitute perceived by the public and royalty during the 18th century?

    1. admin says:

      Very badly ! Everybody despised her because of her past as a high class prostitute…

  4. Adyns68 says:

    Madame du Barry was indeed a very beautiful woman who used her beauty to succeed in society. She always had very rich concubines even the king who took care of her and help her join the high society.

    It is a very beautiful part of french history that illustrates the power that women had in the old society, it is a very good read!


    1. admin says:

      You’re welcome !

  5. Sandi says:

    Hi! What an informative and interesting article. I was happy to read about Madame du Barry and her experience. I love how she used honey for facials for her face. I have never thought of that, but it makes sense.

    Love the quote from Audrey Hepburn, very cool.  It was awesome to read some insights about Madame du Barry’s beauty kind heart. Thanks for the information. I enjoyed it.

    1. admin says:

      You’re welcome !

  6. LineCowley says:

    What a fascinating read about the life of Madame du Barry, born Jeanne Bécu. She certainly seems to have led an interesting life, specially with her extraordinary beauty. Her beauty was much more than skin deep, with her kind spirit and gentle nature. Her beauty, combined with her sexpertise, indeed got her to be bed partner with numerous noble and aristocratic men, including King Louis XV. 

    Pity that she died at the guillotine, without passing on too many of her beauty secrets and regime for future generations.

    1. admin says:

      Yes indeed! Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read her fabulous destiny!

  7. Joseph says:

    Wow, what a story we have here about the Beauty secrets of Madame du Barry and I appreciate you putting this together Elodie as I have enjoyed other similar looks back at the beauty regimen of famous(and now dead) people like the one you did on Tina Turner.

    Fascinating that someone could be viewed as so beautiful and be born of such a lowly estate as to be the illegitimate child of a monk but at least she did inherit her mother’s charm and beauty.

    Quite another blow to be prostituted by the man that she cared for but life was not easy in the eighteenth century which makes it even more impressive that she took a perfumed bath daily as this was way before the advent for running water like we have today.

    1. admin says:

      Thanks for your comment !

  8. Herman says:

    The article highlights the beauty secrets of a woman that are considered unconventional by some but undeniably effective.

    It praises her methods for their effectiveness and acknowledges that they may not be conventional by societal standards. Overall, the article portrays the woman’s beauty secrets in a positive light and emphasizes their success.

    1. admin says:

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. John says:

    This post offers a thorough overview of Madame du Barry’s life, from humble beginnings to French royal court. It effectively portrays her as a complex character who used her beauty and charm to ascend the social ranks. Recent events, like a controversial film and the sale of her pavilion, bring a modern perspective to her story, sparking discussions about the interpretation and valuation of historical figures today.

    The exploration of du Barry’s beauty practices provides insight into the culture of the French royal court, while her comparison to a modern-day Cinderella or an embodiment of the American dream invites reflections on societal expectations and class mobility. The author wisely cautions about equating beauty with virtue or power, underlining that it can be both advantageous and problematic. The emphasis on her inner beauty, reflected in her kindness, reinforces the idea that beauty comes from within.

    In sum, the post presents an enlightening view of Madame du Barry, intertwining historical details, personal stories, and cultural commentary, encouraging readers to consider enduring themes of beauty, power, and societal norms.

    1. admin says:

      Hello John, thanks for your comment!

  10. Anoth says:


    First off, I must say that this was an incredibly detailed and well-researched piece on Madame du Barry. Your efforts to offer such an expansive look at her life, from her humble beginnings to her high status as the last maitresse-en-titre of King Louis XV, really paid off.

    It was fascinating to read about her ascension from poverty and how she navigated the intricate world of French nobility and court politics. She truly is an embodiment of resilience and ingenuity, and your comparison to a modern-day Cinderella or the manifestation of the American Dream was spot on.

    1. admin says:

      Hello anoth, thanks for your comment!

  11. Alan Edwards says:

    Hi, I never knew the story about Madame du Barry until i read her story on your website. Her story is certainly an unusual one and possibly if she had not been so beautiful, her life would have been very different. Do you think that Madame du Barry´s remarkable beauty had a positive influence on her life overall? Alan

    1. admin says:

      Dear Alan, thanks for your comment! As for your question, I believe that Madame du Barry’s beauty was a blessing and a curse at the same time. Beauty was her meal ticket when she landed the king and her many clients during her tenure as a high-class prostitute. However, it has made her a great disservice because it was her downfall on many occasions…

  12. pasindu dimanka says:

    This article is a captivating exploration of the beauty secrets of Madame du Barry. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of one of history’s most renowned figures and offers insights into the beauty practices of her time.

    I found it intriguing to learn about the beauty rituals and products favored by Madame du Barry. From her skincare routine to her haircare secrets, each detail contributes to a vivid portrait of a woman who was devoted to maintaining her beauty and elegance.

    The article delves into the use of natural ingredients, such as milk, honey, and flowers, in Madame du Barry’s beauty regimen. It’s fascinating to see how these age-old ingredients were harnessed for their nourishing and beautifying properties, showcasing the timeless nature of natural beauty remedies.

    Overall, this article is a delightful blend of history, beauty, and inspiration. It sheds light on the beauty rituals of a fascinating historical figure and invites readers to explore the timeless allure of natural beauty treatments. Well done to you for presenting such an engaging and informative piece. It leaves me intrigued and eager to incorporate some of Madame du Barry’s beauty secrets into my own routine.

    1. admin says:

      Thank you!

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