About Beni

Beni - A Special Red Color Extracted
from Safflower

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Beni is a red pigment extracted from safflower petals. The raw ingredient of Beni is the safflower, said to be native to the Middle and Near East and Egypt, and introduced to China via the Silk Road. The safflower and the extraction method for Beni are believed to have arrived in Japan sometime around the mid-3rd century. Safflower petals contain only around 1% red pigment. Extracting Beni is a time-consuming task and sophisticated skill and knowledge are required to produce Beni-based dyes. In Japanese Heian period, the color made from repeated dying with safflower was a special color reserved for high-ranking people.

Beni

Moreover, since ancient times, Japanese people have associated the color red with the sun, fire, and blood, therefore believe it symbolizes life. As such, red has taken on ritual significance. One example is that the red of Beni was believed to be effective in improving blood circulation, therefore seen as a form of medicine protecting the body from illness. As such, red dye, makeup, and food coloring were used to add color to major life events, such as childbirth and marriage.

Komachi-beni image

Amulets
Mid-19th century - Early 20th century

Charms to avert smallpox
Ittōsai Yoshitsuna (circa 1848-54)

Iridescent Green Glow Is Proof of Good Quality

Some Beni used in makeup shines iridescently when dry. This iridescence is said to be proof of good quality, and the technique to achieve this has been kept a trade secret by the respective Beni merchants so as not to be leaked to outsiders. Beni fascinated to women of the Edo period, who favored a makeup called “Sasa-beni” made from iridescent Beni, which shone green when applied. Even modern-day science can’t fully clarify the mechanism behind this iridescence. With all of its mysteries, Beni appeals to people all the more.

Komachi-beni image


Komachi-beni-Traditional Rouge
since the Edo period

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Isehan Honten’s Komachi-beni is Japanese traditional rouge made purely from rare Beni. The raw ingredient is the highest-quality safflower grown in Yamagata prefecture. Made with great care using a technique handed down since the Edo period, Beni shines iridescently and changes to a vivid red color the moment it is dissolved using a moistened brush. This Komachi-beni that has attracted people since the Edo period and been used for major life events is being faithfully preserved in an unchanged state by Isehan Honten today, and will continue to do so tomorrow. It is an item through which the people of today can still freshly sense the beauty technique mastered in the Edo period. When you use Komachi-beni, no doubt it will be a special occasion that fills you with great elation.

Komachi-beni- Traditional lipstick since the Edo period

“Comparison of Modern Beauties: Dance Instructor”
Kōchourō Kunisada
National Diet Library

How to use

step1

step1

Moisten lip brush with water. Remove excess moisture by stroking on the edge of container.

step2

step2

Tile the container to prevent water from flowing for keeping the iridescent green glow long.

step3

step3

Dissolve a small amount of “Beni”, starting at the edge of container. (The amount of usage is about 5mm square.)
The color of Beni is changed to red when it touches water.

step4

step4

Apply “Beni” on your lips.

Depending on the amount of water and the number of applications, you can enjoy the color of Komachi-beni from light pink with transparency to vivid deep red, and also the iridescent green glow.
Unlike the usual oil-based lipstick, Komachi-beni is light and comfortable to wear and colored to reflect your own individual lip color. Therefore, even if the same Komachi-beni is used, there are many different shades. You can enjoy your own Beni shade.

筆跡のイメージ
How to use as blusher
1. Apply water to the cheek with a sponge.
2. Take a small amount of Beni on the brush tip, and apply it to the cheek.
3. Blur Beni patting with your finger softly, you will have a clear and ruddy cheek.

Warning

  • -Store Komachi-beni in the accompanying box avoiding high temperature, humidity and direct sunlight.
  • -The iridescent green glow would turn red as time goes by since Komachi-beni contains the natural ingredient only. This color change doesn’t affect the quality.