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A Complete and Colorful History of Lipsticks

How long have people been wearing lipstick? You might be surprised! Learn the colorful history of the beauty trend.

Lipstick History: The Evolution of Lip Makeup

“If you are sad, add more lipstick and attack.“ –Coco Chanel

Imagine having a makeup routine where there is nothing you can put on your lips. I don’t know about you, but it already sounds like a nightmare to me. The best lipsticks can instantly amp up your look like no other product.

In this article, we will highlight the journey of the versatile and ever-faithful lipstick from ancient times to the present that is just as colorful as the different shades you own.

Ancient Civilizations - The Lipstick OG's

Even centuries ago, human beings have always wanted to distinguish themselves from the rest. As a result of this, apply makeup was considered a status symbol for both men and women. We can trace the use of lipsticks by the people of Sumerian civilization first. Naturally-occurring substances like fruit juice, henna, and yes, insects(!) were used by the Sumerian people. But, nothing beats the luxury which the women of the Mesopotamian civilization enjoyed. They actually ground precious jewels for the shimmer and color of their lipsticks!

Right now, Kylie Jenner has made purple and black lip shades popular. But, it was the Egyptians that were using striking colors by extracting the pigment from non-traditional sources like carmine dye. Carmine dye is derived by grounding cochineal insects and is, in fact, still used to date as a lipstick ingredient. In addition to this, the Egyptians also used toxic elements like bromine man-nite, iodine, and lead.

While the Japanese women derived their lipstick from beeswax and tar as a symbol of beauty, in Greece, lipstick was associated with prostitution and hence, prostitutes had to wear dark lipstick by law.

It was only in 9 A.D. when Abulcasis, an Arab scientist, invented solid lipstick by making a stock that will be pressed into a mold.

Middle Age - Strictly Lip Salves

In the middle age, suddenly applying makeup was considered as ’devil’s work.’ As per the Christian church, a red lip especially was associated with Satanic worship and self-respecting women were discouraged from wearing lipstick or any makeup for that matter. The only form of lip stain that was deemed as acceptable were lip salves.

16th Century - Red Lipstick and Pale Skin

During the flourishing reign of Queen Elizabeth in England, lipstick made a reappearance. During this time, a trend of pale white skin with red lips was made popular. However, only noble ladies and actresses were allowed to apply it.

1884 AD - Guerlin-made Lipstick

Guerlain, a French perfume company became the first-ever commercial producer of lipstick. The company combined castor oil, beeswax, deer tallow to create its lipstick and then wrapped it in a silk paper.

1915 - Cylindrical Lipstick, Anyone?

A lady by the name of Maurice Levy invented lipsticks that were made available in cylindrical containers.

The 1920s - Darker Lipstick Shades for the Win!

Now a makeup staple, lipstick was a must-have by women around the world. If you love your lipstick design of the swivel-up tube, you have to thank James Bruce Mason Jr. who first invented it in 1923.

Lipsticks in the shades of aubergines, dark reds, plums, cherries, and dark browns were worn by fashion icons, movie stars, and the general public alike. If you remember, it was during this time when women demanded voting rights. They made lipsticks a symbol of feminism during this time as well.

Paul Baudercroux, a French chemist invented Rouge Baiser, a ‘kiss-proof’ lipstick. However, it was quickly taken off shelves when women found it difficult to take it off. Soon companies like Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder, and channel started selling that sticks to the customers.

The 1950s - Lipsticks Symbolizing Ol' Hollywood Glam

In the 1930s and 1940s, women started experimenting with lip glosses and lipstick shades that had a matte finish. Even when the Second World War struck, women were still experimenting with bright reds.

However, it was during the 1950s when Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hebburn started wearing bold red lips and other shades that even more women around the world embraced using lipsticks.

The 1980s - Pinks and Red, Glossy-finish Lipsticks

In the 1980s, shimmers and gloss became popular. Women were wearing hot pinks, bold reds, and some even went the gothic way too.

The 1990s - Lip Liner and Lipstick was the Trend

Women mostly preferred a simple and clean look during this era. The trend was to wear a darker lip liner with a lighter lipstick. Cult brands like Mac and Urban Decay also came into existence during this decade.

2000 Onwards - Versatile and Bold Lipsticks

Lipstick game in the newest century is very versatile. From glosses to lip plumpers to lipstick — you can wear anything you like, in any shade you like. From pretty pastels to wacky neon colors, the color palette is fun, glamorous and bold — just like the women.

Resources— StylecrazeLipstick History