The art of geisha make-up is quite intriguing and has definitely spawned many different variations of "copycat" make-up in the western fashion culture of today. It seemed that everyone wanted to jump in on the band wagon after "Memoirs of a Geisha" became a best selling novel. No doubt anyone can forget Madonna performing in her "geisha" garb with her faux kimono and heavily influenced make-up? Even make-up companies jumped in on the wave. For example, in Australia, there is a brand of make-up called "Poppy" who created a line of make-up called "geisha".
For those who were wanting the look of a “modern” geisha was created line, containing lip pencil, eye kohl and white face powder (such a look, of course was much easier to apply than the real thing!). Although, the modern rendition of the geisha style and make-up looked cool, so to say, it really was just an imitation of an age old art and lacked the very embodiment of iki that geisha had perfected.
At the beginning of their career, Maiko find themselves wearing the heavy white make-up all the time. She is first initiated as a maiko, and she is helped with her make-up by either her older sister or okasan, but after then, she has to quickly learn how to apply it herself. When she becomes a geisha, she continues to wear the heavy make-up until she has been in service as a geisha for three years. And then she transfers to wearing less elaborate kimonos and simple make-up and starts to wear her hair pulled back in a simple bun. And the reason being is that her beauty is now in her maturity and "gei" (art) rather than her appearance. Though for formal occasions and dances, she will wear a katsura (wig) and the make-up. When geisha is over 30, she normally wears the heavier make-up, and wears katsura for a dance requiring this attire.