Extra glossy, bright reds, neutrals, mattes, sparkly – with the number of new spins that make up companies put on lipstick, you’d think that it was a relatively new invention. But upon investigating the origins of lipstick, I surprised to discover that women over the past millennia have gone to great (though sometimes a bit unsavory) lengths for ultra kissable lips.
Check out this Colorful History of Lipstick:
3500 BC: Lipstick, a blend of white lead and crushed red rocks, is used and popularized by the Sumarian Queen Schub-ad; it turns out to be fairly poisonous, but that apparently stops no one.
1000 BC: Grecian prostitutes are the only women in their Empire wearing lip paint, which is mandate so that citizens are able to distinguish them from ladies.
700 BC: Grecian women dye their lips bright colors with a crazy assortment of ingredients including: seaweed, flowers, crushed berries, red ochre, crocodile dung, and various resins.
51 BC: Cleopatra uses a lip pigment made from crushed carmine beetles and ants; Egyptian society has sophisticates applying lip paint from wet sticks of wood, and each taking two pots of lip coloring with her into the afterlife.
386 CE: The ancient Chinese perfume lip balms made from mineral wax, animal fat, and vermilion, in as many as 12 different scents, including ageratum and clove.
1000 CE: Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi invents solid lipsticks in modern-day Spain.
1100 CE: Medieval Europe deem dark lip stains as licentious and ban them; innocent-looking blends of reddish roots and sheep fat in lily- or rose-colored tints are considered acceptable, however, since they look more innocent.
1200 CE: No one in Italy at this time really understands the prohibition of lip colorings and they continue to use them as tools for social demarcation – women higher on the social ladder wear bright pinks and those hanging onto the lower rungs wear deep reds.
1300 CE: Ancient Aztecs crush conchineal beetles to dye their lips scarlet – two hundred centuries later and the prospect of using the dye as a commodity excites the Spanish when they consider Mexico for one of their conquests.
1600 CE: Queen Elizabeth I says, ‘the hell with the ban,’ and paints her lips bright red, using a lipstick fashioned out of beeswax and plant dyes; she claims that lipstick is health-promoting and wears nearly half and inch of it when she grows sickly.
1770 CE: Any woman caught wearing lipstick could be tried by the British Parliament for witchcraft.
1860 CE: In Japan, geishas dissolve small sticks of color in water and apply them with delicate brushes to their top lips, painting only a curved stripe on their bottom lips.
1890s CE: Victorian Europe and North America once again regard lipsticks as promiscuous – women start biting and/or applying tinted “healing” salves to their lips for color.
1930 CE: The motion pictures popularize lipstick in Europe and North America, making the cosmetic pretty much socially acceptable in Europe and North America from here on out.