I Slept on a Geisha-Inspired "Hair Pillow" and Here's What Happened

Good curls, discomfort, and a serious beauty pro/con analysis.

Costume, Home appliance, Vintage clothing, Boot,
(Image credit: Design by Dana Tepper)

It's no secret that geishas went to great lengths for beauty—and maintaining their ornamental, coiffed-to-perfection updos was no exception.

"A young apprentice geisha must learn a new way of sleeping after her hair is styled for the first time," wrote Arthur Golden in Memoirs of a Geisha. "She doesn't use an ordinary pillow any longer, but a taka-makura."

A taka-makura (translation: tall pillow) is essentially a small support stand for the neck designed to keep hair perfectly in tact as you sleep. Geishas and their maikos (apprentices) were so dedicated to the cause that to ensure that their heads didn't move from the head rest, they would spread sticky white rice on the floor. If a woman woke up with rice adhered to her 'do…well, let's just say she had a none-too-pleased geisha mother to answer to… 

Now for us ladies today, who aren't having their hair artfully styled into chignons adorned with flowers and shiny ornaments but are instead rocking deliberate bedhead, would a modern iteration of this ancient practice ever be of use? Guess I was going to find out, because one day not long ago the "Hair Pillow,"  a 2016 take on the taka-makur, landed on my desk. 

Comfort, Snow, Foot, Linens,

(Image credit: Courtesy of Hair Pillow)

For two nights, I slept on the long, strategically-curved "pillow" with my head resting inside its firm crevice and my cascade of frizzy curls laying behind the elevated headrest. (It had a satin pillow case, which as we know is way better for your skin and hair than cotton). With my head suspended through the night, I found that my hair was less tangly, less flattened, and less creasy when I woke up. Which, as any curl girl knows, is a beautiful thing. 

Is it practical for everyday life? Mmmmm...no. At the end of a long day, I just want my pillow to be like a giant marshmallow welcoming me to its warm embrace. But I'm still excited to have a Hair Pillow in my repertoire as I know it'll come in handy for special occasions, like when I want to prolong a bouncy blowout or an intricate updo for a couple of days. Plus, when I use it, I feel like a more put-together, nothing-comes-in-between-me-and-a-good-hair-day kind of woman. And I like it.

Khaki, Tan, Beige, Rectangle, Boot, Natural material, Square,

(Image credit: Design by Dana Tepper)

Lifestyle Pillows Hair Pillow, $65; lifestylepillows.com.

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.