No one really knows why a geisha paints her face white, although the most accepted theory is that the tradition started when travelers during the Middle Ages returned from Europe speaking of "pale-faced beauties," and the Japanese women tried to emulate this look. Another theory suggests that the white makeup came from China and was later adopted by Japanese women.
Geishas wearing white makeup first appeared during the Heian era. At that time, white makeup was created by mixing rice powder with water until it formed a paste, which was applied to the face.
To complete the geisha look, women would remove their eyebrows and paint them back on in thick, black lines. The lips were always painted bright red.