Lipstick is the reason chickens don’t have lips
Both women and men can recognize a tube of lipstick. It likely hasn’t changed much in recent years – Same tube, same general appearance, same method of application. But did you know that the history of lipstick is filled with things like crushed beetles?
Going back about 5,000 years into the past, ancient Mesopotamian women were possibly the inventors of lipstick. They used crushed semi-precious jewels to decorate their lips and even around their eyes. Women of the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from about 3,000 BCE to 1,500 BCE, tinted their lips with a red colour. Not to be outdone, ancient Egyptian women used lipstick too. They used a purplish-red dye taken from seaweed, a bit of iodine and bromine mannite. It came as no surprise that this early lipstick invention also made women very ill. And Cleopatra, the most famous ancient Egyptian in history, made her lipstick from the red colour extracted from crushed carmine beetles and ants.
It wasn’t until the 16th century, however, that lipstick became widely used. Queen Elizabeth I, always a trendsetter, invented and popularized the look of blackened lips. Elizabethan-era lipstick was a little bit easier to handle than Cleopatra’s – it was made with simple beeswax and plant-derived red dyes. However, by the time Queen Victoria took the throne, makeup in general was deemed unladylike and banished to the level of prostitutes. Yet, actresses were still allowed to wear makeup and, slowly, other women began to gravitate towards it again. 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.
In the 1920s and ’30s, this invention was back in the history books. The popularity of silent films promoted the use of lipstick, as women in the films wore black lipstick. It was also around this time that the first push-up tubes of lipstick were invented. In the ’30s, lipstick producers in the US produced a range of colours like light pink, dark lilac and bright red. The movie industry continued to fuel lipstick’s popularity through the ’40s, and it became commonplace again. It was in this period in history that saw the invention of the first lipstick tubes that rotated the lipstick as it was pushed up.
These days, lipstick is everywhere and is arguably the most popular cosmetic in the world. It’s not quite as disgusting as it was in Cleopatra’s day, but there have been some unsettling discoveries about the contents of lipstick recently. In late 2007, a study by a US consumer group found lipstick to contain trace amounts of lead that exceeded the limits set by the Food and Drug Administration. Though it was invented before this study, organic lipstick does now exist. It is made out of all-natural ingredients such as beeswax, castor oil and jojoba oils. This innovation, similar to lipstick in Elizabeth I’s day, is an example of how the story of inventions can sometimes come full circle.
History of Lipstick Sources: