A Complete History Of Lipstick

History of Lipstick colours

What is that one lip makeup you can’t do without? The answer is Lipstick. How do you get those perfectly, luscious, sexy and kissable lips? Lipsticks again. A tint of colour on your lips can change you from a simple dame to a glamorous diva. Purchasing lipsticks is very common in fact. But it was not always like this. The History of Lipstick uses are varied as the number of lipstick colours available. This is to give you a glimpse into Lipstick’s colorful history.

The History of Lipstick Colors:

Lipstick Colour History

There are some very interesting facts of lipstick history which we’d like to share with you. We’re sure most of you haven’t heard of these before.

As we all know that women and makeup are two sides of the same coin. Women started preparing Makeup at home using natural products like minerals and fruits. Colouring lips was no exception either. There is much contradictory information as to when lipstick was first used and what the components were.


As early as 3500 BC, lipstick was made with a blend of white lead and crushed red rocks and was used and popularized by the Sumerian Queen Schub-ad; it was poisonous, but that didn’t restrict women to use and experiment.

Origin of Lipsticks


In 1000 BC Grecian Empire, lipstick was used by prostitutes who wore lip paint, and it was mandatory, so that the people could distinguish them from “well-bred ladies”.

Grecian women in 700 B.C., used lip colours, no matter what their rank was and made lip colours by mixing together some very strange and unthinkable of ingredients: seaweed, flowers, crushed berries, red ochre, crocodile dung, and various resins.

[ Read: Lip make up ]


Around 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, semi-precious jewels were crushed fine which served as lip colours for women.


Egyptians are wild about lipstick. Ancient Egyptian women used red ochre, carmine, and other dyes to create a variety of shades, from tangerine to pink to black. So you see black lipstick is nothing new.

They also used harmful toxic bromine mannite mixed with iodine which created a deep purple shade. These metals caused diseases which subsequently lead to death and thus these lip lacquers were known as “kiss of death”.

Egypt History for Lipsticks

Then came the later Egyptian age and the person who has left a vivid mark on our minds is Queen Cleopetra. She was a beautiful queen who stole the hearts of many heroes with her attractiveness. She was fond of makeup. She always painted her lips dark and sources say that the products used to adorn her lips was a non-toxic colour made out of beeswax blended with crushed ants or carmine; a counterpart for lip gloss, she used fish scales for shine.

[ Read: Best Coral Lipsticks ]


Roman ladies were owners of a huge variety of complicated cosmetics that they require an
ornatrix, or manager, for their teams of cosmetic slaves. Their lipsticks of choice were deep purple-reds. Men also wore lipstick and different shades were used to indicate different social status.

The first solid lipstick was invented by an Arab cosmetologist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi. They were perfumed sticks rolled and pressed in a special form.

In Medieval Europe, lipstick was banned by the church, saying that those who wore lipsticks was an ‘incarnation of Satan’, so cosmetics at that time were meant for prostitutes only.

Queen Elizabeth I was totally in love with makeup, lipstick being her favourite. Her lip colour recipe includes cochineal, gum Arabic, egg whites, and fig milk. Elizabeth’s court also invented the first lip liner by mixing plaster of paris with red pigment and leaving it to dry in the sun.

Lipstick History for Rome

Again in the 17th century, the instinct of the wearer was brought to question, this time by the church, who believed wearing makeup constituted the “work of the devil”. Some years later in 1770 A.D., the English Parliament passed a law that said if any woman was found wearing makeup, they would be considered a witch and burnt to death. But that didn’t restrict women from wearing makeup. They beautified themselves in secrecy. In Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901), the Queen herself was averse to makeup and women took to smuggling cosmetics in from France, while others went so far as to tint their lips using damp crepe paper or ribbons, biting their lips or dabbing them with port wine.

In Early America, even the first lady, Martha Washington, was fond of a cherry-coloured pout. Her personal lip colour recipe was made with beeswax, lard, sugar, almond oil, alkanet, raisins, wax from sperm whales’ heads, and balsam.

When lip colour started to change for better:

Around 1850, the whole concept and attitude towards makeup started to change. The ingredients such as lead and vermillion posed serious hazards to health. In 1884, the history’s first modern lipstick was introduced by perfumers in Paris – it was wrapped in silk paper and made with deer tallow, castor oil and beeswax. By late 1890, makeup was declared legal and catalogues with lipstick ads were distributed. Lipsticks became so popular that by 1915, lipstick tubes were found everywhere.

Lips Colours Pink Wine and Mavued Rose


Lipstick became a more common makeup product and was made easy to use by the founding of swivel lipstick in 1923. The invention of lipsticks gave women a new way of expressing themselves which was thrilling at the same time. Lipstick fashion kept changing almost in every decade. In the 1920’s, women with slender, boyish frame, preferred delicate lips.

Lipstick History for 1920

Silent movie heroines like Clara Bow and Theda ‘The Vamp’ Bara popularized matte finished rich garnet or black with a cupid bow shaped lips.


Lipstick History for 1930

In the 1930’s, women changed their way of wearing makeup in response to tough times. Contrary to the small delicate lips in the previous decade, their lips were more squarish and elongated and the lip colour was a reddish brown tone. Greta Garbo represented this age.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s age, brands such as
MaxFactor and
Tangeewere available promising women to give them a heroine like look.

Smaxfactor and Tangee Lipstick

The Great Depression actually increased the demand for lipsticks. Women couldn’t afford luxury cosmetics, they went for inexpensive
Tangee or
Tattoo lipstick tubes.


When World War II broke out in the 1940’s lipsticks became a necessity as in women were encouraged to wear bright red and glossy lips to boost moral spirit and disguise sorrow. During this period, history saw the appearance of the first tube rotated lipsticks.

Lipstick History for 1940

Hollywood stars like Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford wore bright lipstick to inspire the nation during this period of crisis.

Long Lasting Lipstick

In the late 1940’s, Ms.Hazel Bishop, an organic chemist in New Jersey tested over three hundred experiments with different lipstick types in her kitchen, and finally invented a formula for a long lasting lipcolour. This lipstick type became very popular the moment it went out in public.

Revlon and Hazel bishop Lipstick

[ Read: Best Peach Lipsticks ]

Then began the actual lipstick wars between Revlon and Hazel Bishop. Bishop lipstick was more of a practical lipstick as they were long lasting, whereas, Revlon was more appealing to the romanticized ladies of the elite class. Both companies ran expensive ad campaigns, although it was Revlon who finally won.


In the 1950’s, when Hollywood produced some of the most famous divas like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, the use of lipstick was popularized in the lives of women by these beauties. Also the definition for conventional makeup changed and the actresses represented that. Marilyn’s Bright red lips stood for the seductress look, where Hepburn’s subtle pink lip was a call for independence and liberty.


1960’s was more about de-glamming the lips and playing up the eyes. Lips found a new colour; soft shades such as beige, baby pink and pearl were preferred.

The ad campaigns of lipsticks in that decade reflected this. Some examples for you.

Lipstick History for 1960


Lipstick History for 1970

1970’s again brought a new look. The hippie culture took over. The rebels, New romantics and Glam rockers wore black and purple shaded lipsticks. Those at the disco club scene wore glimmering and glossy burgundy or red. The feminists on the other hand rejected makeup altogether protesting against lipstick.


Mens Wear Lipstick

Each and every decade saw some change or the other in the lipstick history. In the 1980’s it was now the turn of men to wear lipstick. During this decade, lipsticks were used in a wide range of colours from black to red to metallic to neon shades. People in this period experimented a lot with lip colours.

Lipstick History for 1980


1990’s saw a boom in the makeup industry and with that lipsticks became one of the most demanding cosmetic. From bright to light to flesh coloured to brown, lipsticks came in a variety of shades to suit all complexions. However the most prevalent ones were the matte long lasting ones which give lips a more defined shape associated with the modern confident women.

Lipstick History for 1990

[ Read: Best Maybelline Lipsticks ]

With the beginning of the new millennium, makeup and technology developed and with that came new formula, new composition, new colour and a new look. Matte, creamy, sheer moisturizing, every type is now available to suit your skin tone.

Beutiful Lips

Even lipsticks with double shade are now available in the market. These are simple lip colours with a tinge of golden or silver and are known as duochrome lipsticks.

The latest trend in lip colour is Lipsticks with Neon shade. Blue, green, purple, hot pink, orange, celebs are trying out anything and everything.

Star Wears Lipstick Colours

Lipsticks have become a favourite accessory of the stars and they can’t do without. Not just the stars but for us too. Don’t you agree?

[ Read: Different lipstick types ]

Now Watch: Simple & Natural Makeup Tutorial For Beginners

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