The History of Lipstick

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Spanked‘ Mattemoiselle by Fenty Beauty

One of my first ever beauty purchases was a tube of lipstick. Walking down the beauty aisle of Target trying multiple drugstore brands in various lip shades and tones for the perfect red, nude and pink. While I love drugstores, I realize earlier in the 00’s many brands didn’t cater in various undertones for lip shades (as well as foundations, but I digress). I know for a fact, bright red lipstick doesn’t work for me because of my warm red undertone. It truly washes me and my skin out!

Now, I tend to go for darker nudes, dark red, and darker pink lipsticks. Well, I am glad for the various choices of colors we have now because from learning the history of lipstick there wasn’t much of a color choice. In honor of National Lipstick Day on July 29th, I decided to learn more about the history of lipstick (after all, art history is my major).

Wearing Obsessive Cosmetics Liptar, which is
now discontinued & the brand is closed

The first people to create an earlier version of lipstick was from Mesopotamia, which is today the Middle East region. If you know of Mesopotamia, this land is called the Fertile Crescent that filled with water, gems and great land for farming. The Mesopotamian women created the idea of lipstick from grinding gems into powder in order to create a pigmented glow for their lips. I would say they made the first lip stain too. The lipstick spread throughout the region, especially into Egypt. It took full force in Egypt, where many high-class officials including the royal family and the clergy would wear lipstick as a symbol of status. Cleopatra was known for crushing ant and carmine into beeswax to create a signature red lip.

Wearing ‘Spanked‘ Mattemoiselle by Fenty Beauty
Taken by Eva Verbeck

Of course, the popularity of the red lipstick changed over the centuries with the introduction to Christianity. Lipstick slowly died out of the upper class and was seen as a symbol of the lower class & prostitution in the 1500s. The exception to this would be the British Queen Elizabeth I that would have an extremely pale face with a coat of red lipstick on her lips.

Over time, the lipstick’s reign began to drop with laws from the Catholic Church banning lipstick that was thought to be a sign of worship of the Devil and a symbol of deception. There was even a law against it in Britain was passed by the British Parliament.

The tide against lipstick changed again to be positive with the rise of the Industry Revolution and its effects. Lipsticks begin to get advertised in hand-drawn ads like Sears Roebuck (known as Sears today) for lips and cheeks. Actresses especially began to use the makeup to darken their lips for black and white films.

The invention of the first metal tube for lipstick was created in 1915 by Maurice Levy. The original design was wrapped in silk paper that made it difficult for women to carry everywhere. Later, huge luxury beauty companies began selling their own version of the Rouge lipstick. With the creation of colored tv and photography, the use of lipstick surged with women in Hollywood.

In the late 1960s, beauty brands began to experiment in other colors like nudes, pinks, and other colors like purple and black. Of course, red remains a classic to this day with most young women first red lipstick was mostly likely Ruby Woo by MAC Cosmetics.

Lipstick has an amazing history that keeps on growing. As a young woman that loves lipstick, I believe that lipstick is a signature look to any look. I also believe there is a lipstick color for you. Brands are constantly changing and challenging themselves to create new shades and update their formulas. From matte to liquid, lipstick is a killer signature to a person’s makeup look and overall style.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I might do a series on the history of makeup. Check out my Instagram because I may be doing a mini giveaway for some lipsticks!

Be blessed,





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