I love learning about fashion and makeup around the world and I have a few questions. Since maiko use their real hair and not wigs, do they do any kind of treatment to keep damage from styling minimal? Also do you know what their makeup is made from and if they use anything for skincare?
I don’t know anything specific about Maiko’s hair- and skincare rituals. I do know that the bald spot Maiko often got has become much rarer by now because of evolving haircare and also because Geiko wear wigs nowadays, but I don’t know if they use any special treatments or have special rituals.
Maiko’s and Geiko’s skincare has interested me for a long time. I have seen Shikomi with cystic acne who have nearly perfect skin when debuting as Maiko. To be fair, nowadays, they probably go to a doctor to receive special treatments or even antibiotics for their acne (okaasan take great care of the Maiko and Geiko in their care), but I’m still very interested in how Maiko and Geiko with normal skin types keep their skin looking so clear and radiant.
I do know that taking off all of their makeup after coming home from a night of entertaining is crucial, because their makeup is very heavy and especially the base-wax they use doesn’t allow the skin to breathe. After that, they also use a regiment of skin-care products.
Ex-Geiko Mamefuku (Shibata Okiya) of Gion Kobu actually opened her own skin-care line and shop in Gion Kobu. She had acne-prone skin as a teenager, which got worse when she put on heavy makeup daily as a Maiko and her mother made a special cream to help her with her skin. It did help a bit, so she thought, why not make it into buisness, it might help other people. I don’t know if her shop is still open, though. You can see her talk about her skin-care line in the documentary Real Geisha Real Women.
Maiko and Geiko have also invented their “own” products over time and a lot of them have been used for centuries. A skincare and makeup-line called Chidoriya Kyoto makes these products available for us to buy, too. Here is their website and here is a commercial featuring Koito, the okaasan of the Kaden Okiya, Geiko Mieko, retired Maiko Yaemi (Kaden Okiya) and then-Maiko Kofuku (Shigemori Okiya). (This sounds so sponsored, but I swear that it’s not; I learned about this brand 30 minutes ago.)
Now onto the makeup they use: As a base, Maiko and Geiko use a wax called bintsuke-abura, that their white makeup can stick onto. The effect of their white makeup worn on the skin is called shironuri and it’s made from white powder-base called oshiroi that is mixed so it makes a white paste. This paste used to contain lead for a long time, so it was very damaging for the wearer’s health, but today’s version of it of course don’t contain lead anymore. After applying their white foundation, they apply white powder on top of it to set it; the powder is called kona oshiroi.
For their brows and cheeks, Maiko and Geiko usually use mainly modern makup-products. First, they use a way called taihaku to smooth out their eyebrows, then they pencil them in with black and red powder products and usually use pink blush, but some still use an oil-based product called tonoko for their cheeks.
For eyes, Maiko and Geiko use an oil-based red color that can also be used for their eyebrows and which has great staying power, an eyelash-curler, “normal mascara” and ordinary black liquid eyeliner. Some have also started using modern powder-products. They still use the traditional lip-color, which is made of safflower and comes pressed into pencils. It has to be dissolved in water before use and has very good staying power!
On their days-off, when going shopping or to their lessons or when they are asked to come to engagements in casual kimono, Maiko and Geiko wear ordinary “light” modern makeup products.