The beauty company Isehan-Honten is revitalizing an ancient tradition of the Japanese Geisha. The traditional tint, called beni, is applied to the lips, cheeks, eyes and nails with a damp brush. Its color ranges between a pale pink and a dark red. Beni is made from a compound of orange-petaled safflower that are only harvested in the Yamagata mountains of Japan before sunrise in July. Because of the relative difficulty of acquiring the materials for beni resulted in its virtual disappearance by the 1950’s after western style lipsticks were introduced to Japan. The limited and exotic nature of this age-old makeup make the modern beni now being sold one of the most expensive in the world. Offered in the traditional lacquered case with a ceramic mixing bowl, beni costs around $650-$2800 for less than a third of an ounce. That’s enough for between 30 and 50 applications. Sometimes, connecting with the past can be an expensive luxury.

Comments are closed.