With their snow white skin, dark eyebrows, ruby red lips, and black hair, the geisha is a timeless and iconic symbol of beauty in Japan. But there’s a lot more behind their painted faces. Geishas symbolize grace, elegance, and discipline, and they keep alive classical art in the modern Japanese world. It’s hard not to get inspired by them, which is why we’ve chosen the geisha as the symbol of our J-Beauty New Year’s Box. Following a geisha-inspired skincare routine might seem like a tall order, but their self-care philosophy is surprisingly simple. Here are 5 takeaways we can all start practicing, pronto.
1. Natural Ingredients
You might expect the geisha’s skincare secret to be something super exotic, like an oil extracted from a rare plant that only grows in the summertime on Mt. Fuji. But geishas tend to base their skincare on simple natural ingredients such as rice, collagen, green tea, fish, and seaweed, all of which are core to the Japanese diet. The original geishas did not have access to department stores and luxuries of modern skincare, so they took advantage of what we could call “kitchen cosmetics.” They simply made the most of natural items they could easily access at home on a daily basis. For instance, they might use the milky water left over from boiled rice to wash their skin.
2. “Mottainai” Mindset
When we consider why geishas may have turned to natural ingredients to nourish their skin, we believe it emerged not only due to the effectiveness and purity of natural ingredients, but also due to the Japanese tendency to treat natural resources as precious. The emphasis on natural ingredients goes hand-in-hand with the traditional concept of “mottainai,” or minimizing waste. La Vie Précieuse, Kewtopia, and Biolab are three great examples of J-Beauty brands taking strides to minimize food waste by incorporating discarded foodstuff in skincare production, so we couldn’t resist featuring them in our box. And we feel the geisha “mottainai” attitude embodies this perfectly.
3. Mindful Application
Every step in a geisha’s skincare ritual has a special technique, just like the refined crafts they are trained in. You’ll likely find a geisha gently patting an essence toner onto her skin, and lightly pushing the product upwards from her chin to her forehead. This isn’t fancy-schmancy pampering – it’s because the opening of our pores face downwards. Unlike in the west where we rub moisturizers in circular directions until it absorbs, the geisha will most likely press the product into her skin with the warmth of her hands, and use massage techniques to rejuvenate skin cells, stimulate lymphatic drainage, and firm the skin. In all steps, the skin should be treated delicately like a newborn baby.
4. Avoid harsh products
As all skincare veterans know, skin health isn’t just about what you feed your skin, but what you don’t feed it. The geisha’s skincare do’s? Clean products that are free of harsh chemicals, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and other toxic substances, as well as gentle exfoliants such as ground rice powder and azuki bean powder. The geisha’s skincare dont’s? Alcohol-based toners that dry out the skin, products with harsh ingredients, and abrasive scrubs are all big no-nos.
5. Preventative skincare
For the geisha, beauty is a lifestyle, not a yo-yo diet - which means consistent commitment on all aspects of preventative skincare. The geisha approach is holistic, and avoids over-relying on products alone to achieve healthy skin. When geishas run into skin trouble, they are likely to consider the issue from all angles – Have I been getting adequate sleep? Has my diet fallen apart lately? Have I been emotionally distressed? Do I need to drink more water? In addition, preventative skincare means that they are likely to check in on their skin periodically, rather than hunt for a quick-fix after things have gone haywire. Aggressive tactics can backfire and have damaging consequences on the skin, such as skin irritation, peeling, and breakouts.
But don’t take it from us – try these and see for yourself!