Inside the Fascinating Beauty Routine of Modern-Day Geishas

Geishas have been shrouded in mystery since their first emergence in Japan in the 1800s. Trained in the skills of music, dance, and conversation, the entertainers and hosts are elegant and lithe like ballerinas, and instantly recognized for their entrancing stage makeup: stark white skin, red lips, and an intricate chignon called a shimada. Nowadays, there are still thousands of practicing geishas in the Japanese town of Kyoto who adhere to the traditional beauty rituals of their generations-past counterparts.

Needless to say, we wanted to know everything possible about said skin, hair, and makeup routines. To give us a glimpse behind the curtain, we spoke with Vicky Tsai, founder of Tatcha, a skincare line based on a book of geisha beauty secrets Tsai came upon in a visit to Kyoto. Tsai also frequently goes back to Japan to visit Tatcha’s muse, a modern-day geisha named Kyoka. “What’s awesome about modern-day geishas is that they haven’t changed what they do,” she tells us. “They’re kind of like time capsules—they’re the same way they were 300 years ago when it comes to their beauty routines.” Suffice it to say we were intrigued. Keep scrolling to take a look at the fascinating beauty routine of modern-day geishas!