The History of Lipstick – The Hundred-Year Evolution

Lipstick History

It seems like people have been painting their faces and bodies for a very long time. As soon as we figured out we could paint caves. We started painting ourselves. These early humans wore face paint not necessarily as ornamentation, but as ritual protection against evil spirits.

In particular, they wore naturally occurring pigments such as black, yellow, and Red ochre, which is a Fancy word for colored mud, or dirt. Eventually wearing these pigments became more decorative than ritualistic and the first recreational makeup was born. Fast forward to 2500 BC and the Mainstay in every ancient makeup bag was Reddish rouge for cheeks and lips.

Rouge’s reddening effect was so desirable because it was believed to make you look healthy and fertile, and red was also one of the most available and vibrant pigments at the time. Aside from using Red ochre ancient Egyptians also imported the Kermes bug from Mesopotamia to create Carmine, a Vibrant red Pigment that is still used to this day in lipsticks.

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt famously made her red lipstick of Beeswax, crushed ants, and once again carmine. So these pigments like Red ochre and carmine seem to pop up everywhere. When talking about ancient lipsticks. Pretty much all these ingredients especially carmine, have been used for thousands of years we also have annatto which is a seed that grows in South America. It comes to these little heart-shaped seed pods and it is been used in makeup for centuries also.

It is basically natural glitter and it depending on the particle size can be sparkly or just a little bit glowy. This is the red that Cleopatra used for her lipstick. It is been used as an artist pigment for forever. It is even actually the red in red coats in the Revolutionary War. It has a really amazing long history and actually, it grows wild in California too.

In the west, during the Middle Ages onwards Lipstick came in and out of fashion, when religious leaders who thought that cosmetics sinful held a lot of ways, lipsticks were out. When influential style icons, usual royalty, decided that they wanted to wear lipstick, lipstick came back in.

Queen Elizabeth the first was noted for her interest in makeup. She wore basically a full face of white lead and a lot of lipstick. So the one I have on now we tried to match off of a painting, but it also said that she wore crimson lipstick made out of cochineal, the American cousin of the Kermes bug brought over by Spanish Traders. Elizabeth allegedly thought that lipsticks had preventative healing powers and health benefits and it is said that by the time of her death. She was wearing like an inch of lipstick, think a hundred layer challenge.

Queen Victoria, a style icon in her own right, however austere, made sure that lipstick stayed out of fashion for a good part of the 19th century.

Something to note though is that for thousands of years even during these times in which makeup and lipsticks were on the outs among the Aristocrats, they were still worn by certain women who were considered on the outskirts of society: prostitutes and actresses. This was true in the west as well as across the world in the east in Edo period Japan, where bright red lipstick and makeup was part of the Kabuki Theater as well as Geisha beauty regiments.

These changing attitudes open the door for the birth of the lipstick industry. This brings us to the nineteen-teens in America. Where the Suffrage movement was growing, and actresses Made the jump from stage to film, becoming seen as more glamorous rather than scandalous.

In the 80s women were entering the workforce more than ever before. Bold red and pink lipstick looks came back in to match the bold eye shadow, big hair, and large shoulder pads that were worn as war paint into the office. This desire for bold colors was reflected by the celebrity icons of the time including Madonna, Brooke Shields, Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper.

In the 2000s as fashion got brighter and pinker lips got really glossy. Sometimes clear sometimes tinted and sometimes tingly and plumping. These lip glosses were worn to complement the bronzed and shimmering makeup look of the decade. Seemingly in contrast to this, the decade also brought about the birth of the long-lasting liquid lipstick. But because it was the 2000s they were almost always paired with a glossy top coat.

The 2000s also brought us more accessibility to the internet, which brings us to the lipstick market as we know it today. Some of the makeup trends of this decade so far have been color-changing lipsticks, nude colors, metallic lipsticks, and matte liquid lipsticks. Smaller independent companies can enter the market and exist completely online. An online video of products like YouTube and Instagram Help us share, learn, and talk about these trends more than ever.

It is pretty amazing to see how much lipstick has changed in just the last 100 years when in 1917 only two people made money selling cosmetics. It’s been a pretty wild 100 years a lot of stuff has happened, a lot of lipstick has happened, and a lot of that lipstick is in my drawers.


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