The history of lipstick
Elizabeth Taylor 1

The history of lipstick

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Lipstick being the latest cosmetics product I’ve fallen in love with and my new obsession I’ve decided to declare this lipstick week on Pieces in Pink and to get started we’re going to take a look at the history of lipstick.

The history of lipstick

Ancient Mesopotamia during 2500BC to 1000BC was the first home of lipstick – this area corresponds to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, the northeastern section of Syria and to a small region of southeastern Turkey and tiny parts southwestern Iran –  this lipstick wasn’t anything like the lipstick we know today, they used to crushed gemstones to decorate their lips. In Indus Valley Civilization (2000BC) – a Bronze Age civilization (including present day Pakistan, northwest India)  women used dyes to paint their faces, but these contained poisons and caused women to get sick, aren’t I glad we don’t have to use this method!

Image sourced from pinterest
Image sourced from pinterest

In ancient Egypt (2000BC – 100AD) our favourite Egyptian, Miss Cleopatra (51AD – 30BC) and other rich and powerful women from that era used crushed ceramine beetles as red lipstick and applied fish scales to create a pearly sheen.  In Andalusian Arabic (8th and 12th AD), modern-day Spain and Portugal saw the very first solid lipsticks that were based perfumes rolled into molds.

Image sourced from pinterest
Cleopatra | Image sourced from pinterest

During the European dark and middle ages lipsticks were banned by the Christian church, and where only used by ladies of the night, another era I’m so glad I wasn’t born in!

We are fast starting to progress to lipstick as we know them today! In the 1500’s lipstick was made from beeswax and red stained plants and wearing red lips with a white pale face was considered high fashion, Queen Elizabeth the first reigned during these times and lipstick was only worn by high-class ladies and actors. During the 1700’s lipstick wasn’t fashionable anymore and was worn by middle and lower class women. During the 1800s things stayed unchanged while lipstick was used by actors and ladies of the night until French perfumers commercially started producing lipstick.

Image sourced from pinterest
Queen Elizabeth I | Image sourced from pinterest

During the 1880’s Sarah Bernhardt an American actress started wearing lipstick publicly, this lipstick was applied using a brush and didn’t yet come in a tube like we know lipstick today. In 1884 a French cosmetics company Guerlain started producing the first commercial lipstick and it was made from deer tallow, castor oil, bees-wax covered in silk paper.

Image sourced from pinterest
Sarah Bernhardt | Image sourced from pinterest

From 1912 lipstick saw many changes as it started getting worn daily and in 1915 a man named Maurice Levy invented the metal lipstick tube, thaaaank you! In 1921 the use of lipstick because widespread in England and women everywhere started using it. James Bruce Mason Jr patented the swivel-up tube in 1923 making it easier to apply lipstick and in 1927 the first “kiss proof” lipstick was invented by French Chemist Paul Baudercroux but it got banned as it was extremely difficult to remove.

During the 1920s the rise of photography made lipstick acceptable across Europe and North America, those clever photographers! In the 1930s Max Factor – now here is a name I recognize – invented lip gloss lipstick. Then in the 1940s during World War II lipstick became scarce as many of the ingredients were used in the war and the metal tubes were replaced by plastic and paper ones.  In 1950 an American chemist Hazel Bishop created first long-lasting and non-smearing lipstick – Hat tips to this man ladies.

1930 Max Factor | Image sourced from pinterest
1930 Max Factor | Image sourced from pinterest

Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made dark red lips really popular in the 1950s and their influence had companies like Gala and Max Factor invent and create new colours and trends. During the 1960s Rock groups like Ronettes and the Shirelles made white lipsticks popular, but the majority of women still preferred darker and colourful tones. By that time, lipstick and high heels were one of the biggest examples of femininity. Women who did not wear lipstick were in some cases associated with mental illnesses and lesbianism – Crazy stuff and this wasn’t even that long ago! In the 1970s and 1990s black lipstick was popular in Goth and Punk subcultures.

In 1973 Cosmetics company Bonnie Bell introduced to the public first flavored lipstick called “Lip Smackers”. This was a huge success among younger women and girls.

This brings us to today, I see new lip and lipstick trends coming out every week and I just love it, and I love living in a time where we can make up our own minds about what we want to wear and what not!

Which lipstick time do you find the craziest and what is your current favourite lipstick ?

Information for this post was sourced from & Wikipedia.
By clicking on the images you will be taken to the pinterest board where the images were found.
The history of lipstick 4



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I'm a South African Beauty, Lifestyle & Travel blogger and I'm currently finding myself in the Garden Route. A little town called Wilderness is home. I am a very proud dog mom, learning to love my curvy body and a 30 plus blogger.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Candice Petersen

    This is really interesting I never really thought about how lipstick started
    Lots of love xxx
    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

    1. Lizna Erkelens

      It really makes us appreciate makeup as it is today!

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