The perfect white for Geisha makeup


Geisha / Maiko / Oiran Makeup 101 Guide

I sell authentic imported Japanese kimono in NW Ohio. My site for kimono sales can be found at – below is the info on how to do your Geisha makeup.

*Assemble your goodies! Remember: makeup first, kimono last! The white facepaint I use and recommend is ‘BN Ben Nye Clown White’ face paint. It comes in various sizes, the little size I bought for only 3.99 and it is enough to do my makeup at least 15-20 times if not more. This stuff really goes a long ways, and provides GREAT coverage! I do not recommend Halloween facepaint – often it is lead based, and will often crack and flake off as you wear it. The paint I use is actual professional clown makeup. This paint was recommended to me by a local professional theaters make-up director. This makeup is wax based, and can wash off in the shower with soap and water. They sell an option ‘quick off’ for easy cleaning.

*Put lotion on your neck, chest, and face: this is a critical step. Remember to use facial lotion specifically for your face, and to stick with unscented lotions. Facial lotions are different from body lotions. Making certain that your skin is properly moisturized is important, because if your skin is dry it will suck up the moisture in your white face paint. Without putting moisturizer on your skin, during long-term wear your makeup will become splotchy as the dry patches on your skin sucks up moisture. Oh, and don’t forget to put your hair up so you don’t get anything on it 🙂

*With this brand of face paint, I find application using your own fingers is best. The paint will become easier to spread as it warms up to body temp. Leave the paint in the sun for a few moments to help make it spread easier. Even if you don’t have the time to gently warm the face paint, it should go on just fine. Put the pain on in sections, covering your face quarter by quarter. If the face paint spreads too thin, just apply more – this paint meshes and blends VERY well.
This paint is nice and friendly to the skin, but be careful around the eyes! I have discovered that in painting your lips, it creates a few problems that I will address later. I don’t suggest fully painting your lips, to make lipstick application easier. Not covering your lips with white face paint is not fully authentic, but it is practical.

*Once you have covered your face, touch up any uneven spots for a nice smooth white cover. Don’t forget to do your neck! Ears are optional, and unique to the individual. I have noticed that not all geisha and maiko do their ears, or fully cover them – it’s up to the individual. If you have a katsura wig, I do not suggest doing your ears, so you don’t get white face paint all over your precious wig. Geisha can afford several katsura and katsura wig cleanings…we can’t!

*After you have made certain that your face paint is nice and even you then apply a setting powder. Setting powder can be something as simple as white talcum powder. Setting power helps the makeup from smearing and sticking to anything that comes in contact with it. A standard makeup powder puff or your fingertips will do the job. Just be gentle to prevent smearing your nice white mask!

*Apply makeup according to white you intend to be: maiko, geisha, oiran, whatever! Remember that the makeup is not the same for all and to take the time to look up the makeup style for what you intend to do. In my photo, I only put on lipstick. Now, with putting makeup and lipstick on over top the white face paint, I find that the white and the new makeup layers want to interact. That bright red lipstick will turn pink – so you have to apply a few layers of lipstick and clean off the lipstick head as you go. I clean the lipstick off on the palm of my hand, as it’s a nice smooth surface that can be easily be washed off. Be careful not to touch anything if you do this!

The facepaint I use.


2 responses »

  1. I’ve used this in the past for several costumes. I’ve found it difficult to apply evenly, and don’t care for the heaviness of the product. I’ve sealed it using the Ben Nye sealer, and even then it can come off with an accidental bump.!/photo.php?pid=2461712&id=504550375!/photo.php?pid=2461609&id=504550375

    That being said, its the best “clown white” of the bunch. I did tests on several brands and this had the best effect. These costumes were retired pretty early though because the makeup was such a pain in the bum to apply and wear.

    I plan to look in to airbrushing. I’ve tried it several times on myself and others and you get a perfectly smooth surface without a lot of effort. So I’ve purchased an airbrush since then, but haven’t gotten around to buying the appropriate makeup. That’s the extent of my airbrush experiment ^_^

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