One of my favorite books, “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, was wonderfully adapted into the 2005 film of the same name, starring Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi (or Ziyi Zhang) as the Japanese geisha Sayuri. Here’s my interpretation of how you can get her makeup look!
This makeup is very understated, so apply all with a light hand.
– Apply your foundation (Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation) with a dampened sponge. The damp sponge helps spread the foundation and keep the makeup natural by preventing caking. Use the foundation as a concealer and cover any darkness or blemishes in a pressing and rolling movement with the sponge. (Fun fact: Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is loved by celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens, but is quite pricey. Buyer beware before you fall for it too.)
– Using a kabuki brush or another fluffy powder brush, apply a powder (Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Powder) to mattify your skin.
– Sparingly, apply a warm, light peach blush (MAC Powder Blush in Pinch O’ Peach) to the top of your cheekbones.
– Sayuri’s eyes are a blue-gray; to imitate, wear colored contacts.
– Apply a peach-colored eyeshadow (MAC Eye Shadow in Bamboo) that is close to your skintone over your lid. On the outer third of your eyelid, lightly apply a light-brown shadow (MAC Eye Shadow in Soft Brown) and blend well.
– Depending on the eye color you have chosen, apply a brown or gray liquid liner (for dark or gray eyes respectively) VERY lightly along the lower lashline.
– Apply one coat of mascara (Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara), making sure not to let your lashes clump.
– Zhang Ziyi’s makeup artist for the film, Noriko Watanabe, told the folks at makeup411 that he used Stila’s Lip Glaze in Peach on her lips for the film.
(Note: The full breakdown by Watanabe is also available at makeup411, however, most of the products he recommended are no longer sold/available in the U.S. For this reason, I have provided my own recommendations for the makeup above that would be perfectly suitable replacements.)
Want a wearable version of Sayuri’s geisha makeup? Check out our makeup breakdown of the Disney Princess Mulan. Mulan’s look combines similar elements in the eye and lip makeup, but does not include the white makeup shown above (which would be ridiculous to wear on a casual basis). The key features to this particular look are elegant red lips (I recommend NYX Round Lipstick in Snow White) and winged black eye liner (try using a gel eyeliner like MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack with the MAC 266 small angle brush).
As always, let us know what you think or if you have any questions!