How Your Favourite Lipstick Has Evolved

Red lipstick now

Ever wondered how those pout-enhancing lipsticks came about? Well, so did we. There’s a rather interesting way these tiny sticks have evolved over centuries—involving crushed beetles, gemstones, Satan and castor oil. We bring you its step-by-step progression.

2500 BC to 1000 BC: Crushed Gemstones

Women in Mesopotamia sure knew how to get their way around. It was they who first invented lipstick using crushed gemstones and applied the paste onto their lips. In an attempt to paint their lips, women in the Indus Valley civilisation too experimented with various dyes. However, it turned out to be fatal due to the harmful ingredients used. #epicfail

2000BC to 100 AD: Carmine Beetles
We are amazed to know how our all-time-favourite red lipstick has evolved with times. We know it’s a tad creepy, but women in ancient Egypt began making red lipsticks from crushed carmine beetles. This shade of lipstick was further made famous by Princess Cleopatra, who added shimmer to it by extracting pearly shades from fish scales to get that royal pout right. Talk about natural beauty!

ancient Egyptian women use red lipstick

The 16th Century: Satanic Rituals
Like many other good things in life, lip colouring too was banned by the Church. They believed it to be a ritual of Satan, which is why it was worn only by lower-class women and prostitutes.

1558: Red-stained Plants
It wasn’t until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that lipsticks made a fashionable comeback. The British monarch added bright red lips to her signature stark white face. Luckily, this time around, the beetles were replaced by red-stained plants.

The 18th and 19th Centuries: Banned by Queen Victoria
The popularity of lipsticks dropped considerably when Queen Victoria banned make-up and was then worn only by actors and prostitutes. However, that had little effect on fashion-loving French women, who continued to wear their lipsticks with great ceremony.

1884: Deer Tallow, Beeswax, Castor Oil
We might be spoilt for choice today, but women around the world were très delighted when French cosmetic brand Guerlain introduced its first-ever commercial lipstick this year. It was made from deer tallow, beeswax and castor oil, then placed in a silk paper. The difficult packaging was the reason women seldom carried their lipsticks in their purses back then.

The 20th Century: When Hollywood Took Over
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the evolution of lipsticks had a major breakthrough. The invention of the first metal lipstick tube, followed by the development of the cylinder swivel-up tube, changed the game completely, upping its popularity among the ladies.
Lipstick was now easier to find and, soon, brands such as Chanel, Dior and Elizabeth Arden began introducing several different shades. Actresses like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made wearing dark red lipsticks ultra-fashionable, creating a cult trend among the masses.

Marilyn Monroe Hollywood red lipstick

Where We Are Now
With lip glosses, lip plumpers and an absurd varieties of shades, lipsticks have fast become a makeup (and purse) staple. Over and (p)out!

If you liked this quick history lesson on lipsticks, you can tweet us on @get_inonit and @deepikahariani

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