This is the post which was guest published on Beautiful Chaos…
I’m a sucker for a good lipstick, I must say. Be it a nude, sateen lip or a deep, matte red, I think a strong lip can transform your look. Don’t you? I used to love dressing up in my Mum’s shoes and painting her lipstick on my mouth. Even with it plastered all over my face, her Heather Shimmer (thanks, Rimmel) made me feel sophisticated and refined! It was the ultimate in “grown-up” make up!
But where did the idea of painting our lips come from? Since the dawn of time, or at least of mankind, humans have done all that they can to make themselves distinguishable from each other. Hunters painted their skin to adapt to their environment, and religious kin decorated themselves in honour of their gods. At around 1500 BC, Mesopotamia was the first home of lipstick- the women would use crushed gemstones to decorate their mouths, making them more appealing to the opposite sex. This must’ve looked phenomenal, with the gemstones glistening and catching the light. But man, kissing must’ve been uncomfortable!
Between 2000BC to 100AD, the Egyptians had a slightly less glamourous approach to making lippy; they would use crushed carmine beetles to create those striking looks that we accustom with the Ancient Egyptians. Sometimes the red lipstick was blended with extracts from fish scales to add a pearlescent sheen to the look! It was Cleopatra who epitomised the style, which was copied by many rich and powerful Egyptian women.
Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi was an Arab Andalusian cosmetologist in the 8th-9th century who managed to make the first solid lipstick. These were rolled in special moulds to create a look more like today’s lipstick.
One thing that I didn’t realise until I began my research was that the Christian church banned lip colouring untik the 16th Century! Lipsticks had connotations with Satin, apparently, and only the lowest classes in Christian cultures would wear lippy. That may still be why some people (wrongly, if you ask me) associate lipstick with being “tarty” or promiscuous- only prostitutes wore it!
Thanks to good ol’ Queen Elizabeth 1, bright red lips and a porcelain face became very fashionable. As lipstick became more popular, the ingredients became less disturbing. Beeswax and red plants replaced the crushed insects and fish bits. A change had happened- lipstick no longer marked a hooker, it was exlclusively for high class women (and the odd actor on the stages of London).
Unfortunately, the 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the delegation of lipstick, from something luxurious and elite, to something only fit for, well, prostitutes! Some actors still wore lippy, but this was ok, for it was for the arts! Would lipstick ever lose this harsh reputation?
And we can thank the French. We can thank Guerlain to be exact! They were the first company to produce a commercial lipstick in 1884. Made from deer tallow, caster oil and beeswax, it was the. Covered in silk paper for added luxe!
This was around the same time that American actress Sarah Bernhardt began wearing lipstick in public- a bold move! This was the equivalent to a Kardashian endorsement nowadays, as in no time at all fashionable American women were applying lipstick (still with a brush) as a vital part of their everyday look.
Hello to the 20th century and hello to Maurice Levy, who, in 1915, invented the the first lipstick tube. Lipstick rocketed in popularity across the globe. In 1923, Tennessee inventor James Bruce Mason Jr. invented the cylinder swivel-up tube that we’re used to today.
The rise of lipstick wasn’t always seamless! In 1927, Paul Baudercroux came up with “kiss-proof” lipstick, which was quickly removed from the market because the strength was so intense that it could not be removed from the lips of those wearing it! It’s fair to say that that was a fail!
In the 1930s, Max Factor invented lipgloss as a lipstick alternative. Who knew how important this would become in terms of women and beauty? For me, lip gloss was like a training bra for lipstick!
WW2 made lippy quite hard to come by as one or two of its main ingredients were used in the war (castor oil and petroleum). The metal tubes were also replaced with plastic and paper. Women still found ways to incorporate lipstick into their looks, they just had to be more careful.
The dark red look, still a favourite of many (myself included) in 2015, was actually popularised in the golden era of Hollywood- the 1950s. With their influence, Max Factor (to main brand of lippy at the time) invented new trends and colours, patching the way for the options we have today.
The need to wear lipstick has often been too dramatic. In the 60s, lipstick and heels symbolised femininity- and if a woman didn’t wear lippy, she was deemed mentally ill, a lesbian, or both (heaven forbid). Over the decades, our taste in lipstick has altered and become more eclectic: black, white, purple, blue- lipsticks no longer only came in one shade. The red lip had severe competition as the 20th century wore on. Flavoured lipsticks were sold, a particular favourite with younger women. Women, and many men, now wear lipstick to match or contrast with their outfit, their accessories, and even their manicures!Lippy isn’t just a method of drawing attention to our mouths. It’s an expression of who we are, and where we want to be. Click To Tweet
Lippy isn’t just a method of drawing attention to our mouths. It’s an expression of who we are, and where we want to be. It’s our personalities, our quirks and our perfection a combined. I am proud to say I love my lippy! Are you?