Tuesday, December 5, 2017

This History of Lipstick

Almost all of us have one. Most of us have 12, or at least here at Beauty Care Choices, we do. It goes from place to place with us, ready to help out any time of the day. It's our BFF, "best face fix". It's about three and a half inches long and comes in every color of the rainbow. Do you know what we are thinking of? It's LIPSTICK!! Do you know the history though? Where did this little bestie come from? Well, we have the answers!

Lipstick has been around since 2500 BC! The first know wearing of lipstick was by the men and women of ancient Mesopotamia. They would use precious gemstones on their lips, but not in the way we do today. The gemstones weren't adhered to their lips like jewelry but more used as an epidermis scratcher to cause bleeding. Then the gemstones would get lodged in the small scapes to reflect drying blood. Say hello to our first red lipstick.

Cleopatra brought more suitable lipstick into high society in her days as Queen, 51 - 30 BC. This Egyptian lipstick was made out of crushed bugs, dried clay, and seaweed. Occasionally, they added fish scales for a shimmery gloss.


Fast forward to the European Dark and Middle Ages, when lipstick enters its own dark age. The Catholic church had banned the use of lipstick due to thoughts of it being related to satanic rituals. This lead to lipstick only being worn by harlots. It wasn't until Queen Elizabeth I brought lipstick back into the hands of the rich and powerful. Her powder white face and stark red lips were admired by nobles everywhere. Though it didn't last and with the end of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, lipstick went back to being a signal of women of the night.

Fun Fact: This didn't mean that women didn't want 'naturally' bold lips. To get the color without the use of lipstick women were known to bite their own lips or rub them against anything bright in color.

In 1884, lipstick got its big break. A French cosmetic company called Guerlain started producing the first commercially sold lipstick. It was formulated with deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax. They would wrap it in silk and it was to be applied with a brush. It wasn't until 1915 when Maurice Levy introduced the cylindrical tube that women really started snapping them up.

By the roaring 20's lipstick was here to stay for women of all classes. The actresses of silent films were what everyone wanted to look like. Actresses tended to wear dark color lipstick like brown, plums and deep reds, that stood out in the black and white films.  They focused on making a prominent cupid's bow, often with the use of stencils.

As the depression hit in the 1930s, lipstick was one of the few items women simply refused to give up. While the color schemes of deep plum and burgundy were still everywhere, the finish changed to matte for a more sophisticated look.
The 1940s are remembered by the wartime efforts of World War II. The war made many things scarce, or even unavailable, but lipstick was not one of them. The metal tubes had to be replaced with plastic or paper tubes but they were still in every woman's household. The color or the era was bright beautiful red. The government even backed the color because they thought it boosted morale.

By the 50s war was over and the lipstick industry was still growing. In fact, lipstick was gaining, even more popularity because style icons were starting to cross lines from films into magazines and back. People were drawn to emulate their signature looks.

1960 era was marked by a changing society. The world looked to Mother Earth for trends and out went bright red lips, despite red coming from bright clay and bugs in the beginning. In came browns, neutrals and the first popularization of lip gloss. Despite the trends being all about breaking the norms and away from traditional roles, lipstick was still a necessity.  Much the same can be said about the 70s. Lip Smackers were released in 1973 and was the first big step towards pushing makeup to the teen girl market.

Woman in the work force was the tone of the 1980s. This era shifted back into big and bold lips (and everything else). Makeup was often seen as war paint women wore into the office to let men know they are just as big of the working class and meant business.  The color schemes often matched with whatever outfit they were wearing to enhance the power dressing trends.

By 1990 the subculture of gothic and punk was making its way main stream. The bold of the 80s were out and the conservative style was in. These subcultures created a time of very interesting lip trends. Things like dark lip liner with lighter lipstick or matte browns and black was highly sought after. The 90s also brought along the first consumer need for natural and chemical free lipsticks.


Shimmery, glossy, shiny was all about the 2000's. Skin went from being pale and ghostly to spray tans galore. Glossy lips helped bring the beach casual look together so cosmetic makers listened. Every girl of every age carried lip gloss with them at all times. As the 00s turned into the 10s lipstick moved to be more self expressive than world-wide trends. Of course trends still arise like the Merlot trend or the matte trend but thanks to social media they change faster and more often.

We love our lipsticks, they are a part of our everyday life. They express our moods, conveying times of sultriness or sadness. They can provide a level of confidence to any woman. So here's to another wonderful 4000 years of lipstick!

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