Lipstick used to make a symbolic kiss.

Image via Wikipedia

. . . Don’t Leave Home Without It

Since the dawn of time, women (and men too) have been trying to change the color, shape and texture of their lips by applying lipstick . . . a mixture of pigment, waxes, oils and emollients. Many women won’t ever leave home without it, some cosmetic companies charge the earth for it and it has even been known to get the odd fella into trouble (Connie Francis let us in on that one) – “Lipstick on your collar told a tale on you . . . “shame on you! You might be more than a little surprised to find out exactly what women through the ages have been willing to daub onto their “Cupids Bows”, all in the name of beauty and fashion.

Early Lipstick

  • Cleopatra has been revered throughout history for her unrivaled beauty, but do you know what was used to make her lipstick . . . crushed carmine beetles was used for the deep red lipstick color and ants for the lipstick base. If ladies of the time fancied a pearly  finish to their lipsticks . . . fish scales – I’m not joking, fish scales. I bet they smelled a treat.
  • Queen Elizabeth I was not, however, renowned for her beauty, but she also liked bright red lips. The fashion of the day was a rather scary set of bright red smackers in the middle of a ghostly white face. Thankfully they’d begun to use beeswax as the lipstick base by this time, and collected the red stains from plants.  The Brits did however apply a bit of the “stiff upper lip” to their lipsticks and it wasn’t really considered to be acceptable for ladies to wear lipstick until the 1920’s, well, not unless you were an actress or a prostitute anyway! Charming.
  • Elizabeth Arden was one of many manufacturers which began to commercially produce lipstick from around the 1930’s. Different colors were produced, although dark red was the most popular color of the time.

Lipstick For Grown-Ups

Many teenage girls were reported to fight with their parents during the lates 1930’s over whether it was appropriate for them to wear lipstick. To a teenage girl lipstick meant that they were grown-ups . . . to many grown-ups lipstick was still a sign of prostitution or of girls being “loose”, there were warnings that wearing lipstick could ruin the chances of a teenage girl being popular or having a good career. What a load of fuss!

Wow, what a rigamarole . . . no wonder people started to use more neutral colors. Did anyone notice the “Joker Smile”, not sure it’s such a good look really.

Lipstick in the 21st Century

Lipstick has come a long way since Cleopatra sent her slaves out crushing beetles. It’s available in every color under the rainbow, each with about a thousand variations. Young girls throughout the 1970’s began to shy away from the bright red lips of the 50’s, opting for more natural shades. Pearly pinks and peaches became extremely popular around this time, as well as blue, green, violet, even black. You name it, there’s a lipstick for it, and never mind the fish scales, some of the modern lipsticks smell good enough to eat.

The matt and semi-matt lipsticks of the past are no longer popular today, with people preferring shiny and pearly finishes. Lipsticks these days actually double up as a moisturizer, some are said to plump up your lips (like Botox) and there are lipsticks on the market which claim to last for up to 8 hours without coming off on coffee cups or collars. I bet that poor bloke Connie Francis knew wished that it had been around years ago.

You’ve guessed it . . .

How could I not??

Now THAT looks like fun. I would try it but it would probably scare the neighbors! Maybe one day.




Comments are closed.