History of Lipstick 101

Civilizations have always adorned themselves in special clothing, shoes, jewelry and cosmetics to distinguish themselves from others. Lipstick, of course, being one of them. Especially RED! It’s time to count yourself lucky for the modern advancements in science! Here are some of the strange ways in which lipstick was made, and some interesting facts throughout the years.

  • In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamian women would grind up precious gems to dust their lips with shimmer and riches. It is said that Cleopatra would grind up beetles and ants to get her perfect shade of scarlet.
  • A highly toxic concoction of fucusalgine, iodine, and bromine mannite was used on lips, often leading to serious illness, and sometimes death. It was even referred to as “The Kiss of Death.”
  • Fish scales were often ground up to give lipstick it’s “sheen,” and the first example of frosted lipstick. So 90’s!
  • In the 16th century lipstick was huge thanks to Queen Elizabeth I. She always had a pale face of makeup with bright crimson lips that she made out of beeswax and plants. You go girl.
  • Lipstick was finally introduced to the US in the 1890’s. It was colored with carmine dye, which was extracted from insect scales (still used TODAY!)
  • By 1923 the modern twist-up lipstick tube was invented. Before then, the ingredients came wrapped in silk paper. Could you imagine carrying that in your purse?!
  • The war effort in the 30’s encouraged women to wear lipstick, urging them to “do their part.”
  • By the late 1940’s, 90% of women wore lipstick. Due largely to marketing campaigns by Maybelline, Revlon, and CoverGirl. Heard of them? 😉
  • In the 50’s, sexy starlets like Miss Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor helped lipstick-wear soar to 98% of women.
  • Finally, in the 1960’s and 70’s, red lipstick was pushed out, and beige was in. In the punk era, we saw black and purple hues become popular.
  • The grunge movement came in the 90’s, which brought brown, plum, and more unique shades. And the rest is history.

Today, lipstick is one of the most important items in fashion. They can range from cheap to very expensive, with many ingredients you can’t pronounce to just a few natural ingredients. One thing has always remained the same though: lipstick has a huge influence on us, and, it seems, will remain that way for a long time to come!