The History of Red Lips

I believe one of the best ways to gain confidence is through knowledge. So before I go about offering up tips and advice on lipstick, I want to share the history behind such a timeless cosmetic.

So without further adieu, the history of lipstick:

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph

3000 BC
The first use of lipstick can be dated way back to Ancient Mesopotamia. Women tinted their lips using the natural ingredients such as red clay, iron oxide, henna, and seaweed.

50 BC
From Nefertiti, to Cleopatra, lipstick was commonly used among Egyptians of both genders to signify status. Using red ochre, or the scales of the cochineal insect, the pigment was generally mixed with resin or gum to help preserve the colour.

AD 900
Abu al-Quasim al-Zahrwai created the first lipstick that was a stick by blending the pigment with a wax base, and pressing it into a mould.

Queen Elizabeth I

Mid 1500’s
Over time, lipstick became associated with prostitutes and lower class women. Luckily, Queen Elizabeth I was able to revive the look with her pale white face complexion, and bright crimson lips.

Again, red lips acquired a negative association when a law was passed by British Parliament stating women that wore make-up were witches attempting to lure and seduce men.

Lipstick was used in old film to give definition

Late 1800’s
Bringing back lipstick once again was Sears Roebuck whose catalog offered the red pigment to colour both lips and cheeks. Actresses were a huge fan of the product as it aided in helping their lips to stand out in black and white film.

Early 1900’s
Maurice Levy created the first metal lipstick tube making it much easier for women to carry around, and apply. Within the next couple years, all the major beauty companies began to sell the cosmetic.

Marilyn Monroe

By this time, 98% of US women were wearing lipstick Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth who embraced the bright red lips.

While new colours of lipstick are constantly being pushed out, red has always remained the original. Red lips are a classic, and with big stars like Taylor Swift and Emma Stone rocking the bold colour, it’s certainly here to stay.


6 thoughts on “The History of Red Lips

  1. Congratulations! You wrote a post about lipstick that I was genuinely interested in! And I don’t even wear lipstick! Awesome job


  2. Nice nice topic and really interesting historical facts! P.S. Personally for me Sophie Ellis Bextor is the best representative of red lipstick:)


  3. It is interesting how lipstick evolved from being an aid for social differentiation to a cosmetic. I am a fan of classic bright red when used right, it is strong enough to drag you across the bar to talk to someone, true story!


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