Tsai Yen-ping is a feminist who does not advocate more power, freedom or equal social status for Taiwanese women .
Rather, the legendary skincare queen has inspired a legion of young women to boost their self-esteem and financial independence in a culture that for millennia has preferred sons.
Her 'Natural Beauty (NB)' cosmetics and skincare empire, which she began building in the early 1970s, has helped improve the lives of tens of thousands of girls and young women who had been deprived of a chance of higher education as Taiwan was changing from a rural to a modern economy.
Her network of beauty schools and spas across Taiwan and China, based on products she has developed through self-study of biochemistry and skin care needs, provide education and employment for thousands of women.
Last year, according to a company spokesperson, NB's revenues totalled 1.6 billion Taiwan dollars (48 million US), 62 percent from China and 37 percent from Taiwan.
A true pioneer of the beauty industry in Taiwan, Tsai was the first beautician here to dispense advice, through newspaper columns and appearances on radio and television, on skincare and make-up techniques at a time when ignorance of cosmetics was widespread, most products were imported and were considered a luxury.
There was no one in Taiwan in those days from whom she could learn, Tsai told AFP in a recent interview, describing herself as having been 'a victim of inappropriate use of makeup due to my ignorance in the right ways to take care of my face'.
So she set about studying everything she could, having materials translated from English and Japanese, travelling to beauty schools in the United States, Britain and Japan to learn all she could about skin care.
'To help other women avoid what I went through was one incentive prompting me into the beauty business,' said Tsai.
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