I love history and wanted to know more about this old, elegant makeup tradition from Japan. The Geisha in Japan was not a prostitute, they where mostly entertainers for men who would seek their company at tea houses. They would dance with fans and play instruments for the amusement of men in hopes that one of them would someday be a financial supporter. The very word Geisha means artist, they sell their skills not their bodies.
First they put a wax/oil solution on their face called bintsuke-abura to help the foundation stick. The foundation is a mixture of rice powder mixed with water to create a paste that was spread across the face, upper back, and chest. If the girl was a Miako ( not yet a Geisha) she would leave make a V with the white paint on her back, but is she was a full Geisha she would have painted a W. They say it was for sensual purposes. The kimonos would have left this part of their dresses open for people to see.
Next is painting the eyes and eyebrows. They would go over their eyebrows with black charcoal. For ‘eye shadow’ only the Miakos would do put black and red on their eyes. When she becomes full Geisha she would either not put as much red on the eyes or none at all. This process is very tedious, one little mistake and they had to start all over from the beginning.
Finally the lips. The lip color is brushed on with a brush. The color comes from the safflower which is infused in water and then covered with crystallized sugar to give it lustre.
this video was posted on YouTube by jcollaboorg
If this fascinated you there is a wonderful movie called Memoirs of a Geisha! It is my favorite movie right now.
If you liked this let me know what you think. I am thinking about doing another post about the Geisha customs and fashion. Please comment below if you would like to see a post about that.