London, Apr 20 : For hundreds of years, Japan's geisha would never leave home without dipping a wet brush into a natural compound called 'beni' to create a rich paint for their trademark red lips.
Geisha are traditional, female Japanese entertainers, whose skills include performing various Japanese arts, such as classical music and dance. Contrary to popular belief, geisha are not prostitutes. ow, the custom of the Beni, traditional geisha lip tint is being revived this week with the launch of the first 21st-century range of traditional lipstick palettes, aimed at bringing the beauty habits of the geisha back into fashion.
Beni comes in ornate, lacquered cases designed by Japanese artists, and is one of the most expensive lipsticks in the world.
The new collection costs from 70,000 to 300,000 yen (335 pounds- 1,440pounds) for a pot holding less than a third of an ounce, or 30 to 50 applications, so an evening's use can cost up to 50 pounds.
From the early 17th century, generations of geisha and other Japanese women used beni to paint their lips, cheeks, eyes and nails. But the arrival of Western-style lipsticks in the 20th century resulted in its near-disappearance in Japan by the 1950s.
"We're hoping to bring this product back into fashion. It is easy to apply, lasts for a long time, is a beautiful shade of red and is 100 per cent natural," the Telegraph quoted Yoko Oshima, a spokesman for Isehan-Honten, the beauty company behind the revival, as saying.
Beni is extracted from the orange-petalled safflower which must be hand-picked before sunrise during July in Japan's Yamagata mountains. The flowers are soaked and steamed to form the compound, which turns red when a wet brush is applied. A range of colours, from pale pink to ruby red can be attained, depending on the amount of water used.