Every time I travel to Japan, my skin develops an inferiority complex. I mean, have you ever seen those Japanese women with their smooth, glowing, absolutely flawless skin? There is not a single blemish or an enlarged pore to be seen anywhere. And this time it was even worse, considering that I was in Kanazawa to meet with one of the greatest cultural icons of all times: an honest-to-goodness geisha. One of those magical superwomen who can seduce with a downward glance, fascinate with her silent sensuality and entrance with a flick of the wrist. And then there is that unbelievably smooth, porcelain-like skin, glossy hair and ruby red lips that are unrivalled across the world.
So, this time I decided to tackle the eternal question: what are the secret skincare and haircare recipes that make geishas so beautiful, so ageless and so dazzling? There are really just a few of them and they can be easily incorporated in our daily lives with products right out of the pantry.
Since Japan sits on the waters, it makes sense that sea salt would be a part of the geisha’s skincare routine. Salt is a wonderful body scrub, while also being terrific for cellulite. However, unlike us mere mortals who mix it with oil, the Japanese geishas prefer whipped cream.
Follow suit by blending 2 tablespoons of sea salt with a little whipped cream to create a body scrub. Massage in circular motions over warm skin, preferably halfway through a shower. Finally, rinse and finish off with body lotion. Massaging with sea salt breaks down fat and makes skin firm and smooth. Easy, ain’t it?
The chemical composition of rice bran is similar to that of human skin. Add to this its potent water retaining and exfoliating abilities and you can see why this husky flour has been a skincare staple of the geisha since 1100 AD. An added bonus: while other scrubs can tear and damage the skin cells, rice bran leaves them rejuvenated, cleansed and healthy.
For the best results, mix 1 tablespoon of rice bran flour with enough milk or yoghurt to form a smooth paste. Apply this to warm, freshly cleansed skin and leave on till dry (approximately 10 minutes). After that, remove the mask using warm water and circular motions of your fingertips. Pat dry and apply your usual skincare.
The beauty benefits of rice have been treasured for hundreds of years by women not only in Japan but also in Indonesia and other Asian countries. That’s because rice is rich in gamma-oryzanol – a powerful antioxidant that boosts collagen production. The most popular rice mask involves powdering 2 tablespoons of rice in a coffee grinder. Mix this rice flour with 1 tablespoon of whipped cream. Apply this paste to your face and neck; rinse after 20 minutes.
Known as the fruit of the Gods in ancient Greece, persimmon contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, iodine and super-high levels of vitamins. A geisha understands the multifaceted benefits of this fruit and used it in many different ways – from face masks to skin tonics and detox diets.
A favorite recipe: mix 1 tablespoon of mashed persimmon with 1 teaspoon each of honey and egg yolk. Apply to clean skin and leave for 15-20 minutes before washing off with warm water. This face mask will hydrate, nourish and protect against environmental damage.
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, which fight free radicals, reduce skin inflammation, provide protection against skin cancer and bust any nasty toxins or bacteria that may be lingering in your pores. Geishas are famous for their elaborate tea ceremonies, often involving green tea, but it is a less widely known fact that they use that very same tea to keep their skin glowing and gorgeous.
How? Boil, strain and cool 1 cup of green tea. To this, add 1/2 cup ground oats, 1 tablespoon avocado oil or mashed avocado and 10 drops lemon juice. Mix the ingredients into a paste that you apply on clean face. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then remove with washcloth and lukewarm water. Do this twice a week for skin that absolutely radiates its flawless perfection.
Apple cider vinegar
The enzyme-rich apple cider vinegar literally melts away dead skin cells. Which is why geishas add it to their shampoo to prevent dandruff and stimulate hair growth. They also add it to the bath to keep their skin young and healthy. Follow in their footsteps by mixing organic apple cider vinegar in the ratio of 1:1, soaking a cotton pad in the mixture and patting it onto your skin. Leave on skin for 5-7 minutes, then wash off with plain water. The result? Clean and fresh new skin.
Japanese women have known for centuries about the wonderful haircare benefits of camellia oil. It is exceptionally high in oleic acids, proteins and glycerides that are perfect for maintaining hair health, as well as adding volume and gloss. And using it is super-simple: lightly heat 1 teaspoon of camellia oil and rub it along the length and tips of wet hair. Then cover your strands with a towel for 20 minutes. Finally, shampoo your hair and rinse well; condition as usual.
Will you be trying any of these secret beauty recipes of the geishas? Tell me in the comments section below!