In actuality, He Wanning’s skin was the shade of light wheat. Paired with her strong eyebrows, it also had a distinctive flavor and beauty. However, the climate in the north during the autumn and winter seasons tended to be on the dry side, so it was natural that it would cause her skin to become dehydrated.
Hechun had been silently standing behind her young miss when she heard this. Her mouth opened and closed but she didn’t end up saying anything. Despite that, Yu Xiaocao managed to sense her maid’s movements and turned her head to look at her for a bit. The two of them exchanged glances and, from Hechun’s eyes, Xiaocao could tell that this maid had brought along some of her recently-made handmade soap along.
She carefully inspected He Wanning’s complexion and quietly asked, “Miss He, what do you usually use to wash your face?”
“I naturally use the soap crafted by ‘Full Spring Fragrance’, which is the most famous cosmetics store in the capital. Since I often go out to ride my horse, if I don’t wash my face with soap, I feel like my face doesn’t get clean enough.” He Wanning stated this in a matter-of-fact manner. Although soap was an expensive item, most of the n.o.ble young maidens in the capital could afford to use it.
Li Meirou coldly remarked from the side, “Miss He, I’m afraid that some country b.u.mpkins may not have heard of this type of soap. Isn’t this like playing the qin to a cow ah?”
One of the young girls sitting next to Li Meirou sn.i.g.g.e.red quietly. From time to time, some of the other young ladies would shoot a look to see if Yu Xiaocao had any reaction to this. Hechun was so incensed by this that her face turned red and wished she could go argue with these girls. Yu Xiaocao gave her warning look that said, ‘We’ll find out very shortly just who is the country b.u.mpkin here.’
Yu Xiaocao glanced briefly at Li Meirou, who was immensely pleased with herself. She lightly laughed and continued to talk with He Wanning, “Full Spring Fragrance’s soap admittedly is very good at was.h.i.+ng all of the dirt and oil off of your face, but it contains lye as one of its ingredients, so it takes away a lot of moisture from the skin. When added on to the dry climate of the north, it’s very easy for your skin to become dehydrated in autumn and winter. Our skin is like an apple. Originally, it is full of moisture and life but if it lacks water, it very easily shrivels up and becomes dry…”
Wasn’t she claiming that a country b.u.mpkin would not have heard of soap before? However, now, the person she was claiming to be a b.u.mpkin knew the ingredients of the soap. Was there anything else she could say now? Li Meirou felt like her face had just been slapped and felt her complexion flush hotly.
“Then what should I do? If I don’t wash my skin clean, I’ll get pimples on my face. The pimples are red and quite swollen, so they don’t look very good! Younger Sister Xiaocao, I heard you’re skilled at medicine. Quickly tell me if there are any methods to fix this, okay?” He Wanning felt her own face and thought of a dried up apple that lost all of its juice. She shuddered and then had to ask if there was a solution.
Which maiden in her teenage years didn’t like to be beautiful? There were quite a few young ladies in this room that had some sort of problem with their complexion. Even the most expensive cosmetics didn't seem to do much for their skin. They had noticed that Yu Xiaocao had skin that looked as tender as tofu and felt their insides start to itch. Although they pretended to be disinterested on the surface, they all had their ears perked up as if they were afraid they would miss something important.
Yu Xiaocao glanced at Hechun and the smile on her face became even more sincere as she said, “Tanggu is close to the ocean, so the air tends to be more humid. It was only after coming to the capital that I started feeling like my skin was getting dry in this climate. I also have similar issues to Miss He. I spend a lot of time outside due to work and my skin gets exposed to the buffeting of the wind and the harsh rays of the sun. If I don’t protect my skin, wouldn’t it become as rough as tree bark then?”
When He Wanning heard this, she repeatedly nodded her head, “Stop saying ‘Miss He’ this and “Miss He’ that. It seems so distant ah! I’m only older than you by a few years, so just call me by Older Sister He then. Younger Sister Xiaocao, quickly tell me what methods you have to protect your skin, okay?”
When the other young maidens heard He Wanning’s statement, they looked at Xiaocao with gazes full of envy and jealousy. He Wanning was the granddaughter of the Princess Royal  and, consequently, had a high status in the capital. She also had a somewhat proud and aloof personality. Most people found it difficult to get close to her. However, they would have never expected that a young girl from a farmer’s family would get her good opinion after meeting her once. It looked like this Yu Xiaocao was someone not to be underestimated!
Yu Xiaocao flitted a look at all of the other maidens’ expressions and smiled more deeply. A pair of cute dimples appeared on her face that were adorable enough to make people take a second glance, “I guess I will have to a.s.sent to your request and tell my secrets then! Older Sister He, to protect the skin, you need to hold in moisture and prevent damage from the sun. Let’s talk about protecting your skin from the sun. The best method would be to wear a sunshade or veil when you go outside. If you don’t like wearing those, then you need to spread some protective cosmetics on your skin. In actuality, the best method is to not go outside when the sun’s rays are the harshest. As for keeping and replenis.h.i.+ng moisture in the skin, aloe vera is one of the best things to use…”
“Aloe vera? What is that?” He Wanning wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard of this term. Even Royal Princess Minglan had never heard of this type of plant.
Yu Xiaocao thought for a bit and suddenly realized something. Aloe vera was a native plant in Africa. The Great Ming Dynasty did have aloe vera but it was probably something that was brought over by the emperor or Royal Prince Yang when they had journeyed to the western hemisphere. Since this plant didn’t look very dazzling, most of these young maidens probably didn’t notice it, which was why none of these girls knew about it.
“Aloe vera is a type of plant from the western hemisphere. It has large and fat leaves. When the leaves are cut open, it will reveal some plant juice. This plant juice can help decrease the redness from someone’s skin and also add hydration. Besides that, aloe vera also has some medicinal properties. However, the juice from aloe vera shouldn’t be put directly on the skin as some people may have allergies to it…” Yu Xiaocao started to explain.
“Allergies? What are allergies?” He Wanning was currently a curious little dumpling. She had a pretty high ability to catch onto unfamiliar phrases.
“Allergies ah…” Yu Xiaocao paused for a bit to think before she continued, “Allergies are when you have a particular reaction to something. Some people will have large raised red b.u.mps on their skin after touching something. These b.u.mps can be itchy or cause peeling of the skin. Other people will start feeling like they have cold symptoms. Their noses will start itching and they will sneeze a lot. More severe reactions will lead to trouble breathing…”
Before Yu Xiaocao could finish, one of the young maidens suddenly exclaimed, “My mother can’t be around cats and dogs or other animals that have fur on them. Otherwise, she can’t stop sneezing and her eyes won’t stop tearing up. It’s very uncomfortable for her. Is that an allergy?”
“That’s right, your honored mother is likely allergic to the fur on animals. As long as she stays away from them, she naturally wouldn’t have any reaction.” Yu Xiaocao nodded her head in a.s.sent.
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There was another young lady who had a more introverted personality and didn’t like to talk. She was around fifteen to sixteen years of age. She wanted to say something but then hesitated. Finally, she decided to ask, “Miss Yu, in the spring, my face gets itchy and will also have some small b.u.mps appear. Is that also an allergy?”
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