THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

Radinela Geleva

No cosmetic has the power and allure of red lipstick. We notice it on the lips of some of the greatest fashion icons like Marilyn Monroe. The history of this magnetic product is as rich as it is the different shades it comes in. It has been traced back to the Egyptians, but is believed to date back to prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found makeup artifacts as far back as 10,000 years, and 5,000-year-old red pigments used as lipstick on the lips have been found in Egypt as well as in the Middle East. Egyptian queen Cleopatra made red lipstick a symbol of royalty and this is how she developed the idea of "red equals power".

THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

The influence of red lipstick is felt in almost all continents and civilizations, from the traditional make-up of Japanese geishas derived from the colors of a rare flower to the blush used in the royal courts of Europe. Its history is largely intertwined with the history of women's rights.

Initially, lipstick contains multiple ingredients, depending on what people have on hand. This included red algae, fish scales, crushed insects, precious stones, red lead and even crocodile dung extract. These days, much more attractive nourishing oils and waxes are used, with the red color provided by dyes and pigments. However, a less pleasant ingredient, carmine, is still used - a bright red pigment with which a cold red with blue tones is achieved. It is produced by crushing the exoskeleton of female cochineal beetles.

THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

The ancient Greeks and Romans preferred their makeup to look more discreet, and for this reason they emphasized their lips very slightly. At that time, makeup was associated with prostitution and low morals. Throughout history, red lipstick has been closely associated with a perceived moral compass as well as perceived sexuality.

During the Renaissance period, red lips contrasted with very pale skin. Queen Elizabeth I of England was always depicted with bright red lipstick, rosy cheeks and a pale complexion, which made women want to look identical. However, the period ends with a disdain for the rosy color of the lips, with make-up becoming a taboo subject during the Middle Ages.
Similarly, in the Victorian era, when even table legs were covered for 'modesty', make-up was considered indecent and vulgar: especially bright and bold red lipstick. For this reason, it is rejected again but not for long.

THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

The beautiful colors of every lady's essential accessory were a symbol of resistance and rebellion during the women's rights movement. The lipstick is associated with the suffragettes with the help of Elizabeth Arden, whose brand still produces the signature red shades. She publicly supported the movement and, as the story goes, handed out lipstick to demonstrators passing her salon in 1912. The color quickly became a symbol of freedom and change on the streets of New York and beyond. During the Great Depression of 1929 – 1939, an economic indicator called the lipstick effect was introduced, which remains in use today. The theory is that when faced with an economic crisis, consumers tend to buy cheaper luxury goods. For example, instead of buying a new Chanel bag, they will buy an expensive new lipstick.

THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe further gave red lipstick its cult status, equating it with glitz and glamor in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn's iconic look is achieved through the use of five lip products. For her signature look, she used darker colors at the edges of the lips and lighter colors in the middle to create a dramatic contour, finishing with a highlight in the middle of the lower lips and a gloss for a more glamorous effect. For her perfect look, the actress used a brush to apply the lipstick, which allows for precision with the difficult-to-work product.

THE HISTORY OF RED LIPSTICK

"When the economy goes down, lipstick sales go up" - this is the classic discovery of Leonard Lauder - Estee Lauder's son. The term was coined during the recession of the early 2000s and is often cited as an example. Luxury lipsticks, especially in bright colors such as red, are believed to "instantly put people in high spirits" at a lower price than other goods and services. It's no surprise, then, that almost all luxury fashion lines now have a cosmetics line that includes red lipstick—especially after the economic instability at the turn of the millennium. The beginning of the 21st century saw great strides in lipstick textures and formulas. They include moisturizing matte formulas, liquid lipsticks, two-in-ones, and long-lasting formulas.
The modern red lipstick is part of every beauty guru's collection. The good news is that the formula is probably the safest it's ever been, says L' Oréal, with the main ingredients being wax, a mixture of different oils and pigments. According to a study conducted by the University of Manchester in 2010, a woman's lips are the most attractive part of her body. Especially if she wears red lipstick. The study found that men stared longer at red lips, lingering on them for an average of 7.3 seconds, while lips without lipstick were looked at for an average of 2.2 seconds. Red lipstick is the past, present and future of makeup.

Photos:
1. Queen Elizabeth I.
Photo: © Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain / https://www.ranker.com/list/lipstick-history/genevieve-carlton
2. Proserpine by Dante Rosetti.
Photo: © Birmingham Museums Trust / https://citizen-femme.com/2022/12/23/red-lipstick-history/
3. Red lipstick during the war years.
Photo: Library of Congress / https://citizen-femme.com/2022/12/23/red-lipstick-history/
4. Marilyn Monroe and her characteristic look.
Photo: © vogue.com / https://www.vogue.co.uk/beauty/article/marilyn-monroe-beauty-routine
5. Kylie Jenner with iconic red lipstick.
Photo: © twitter.com / @KylieJenner https://twitter.com/KylieJenner/status/1196591166478663680

Sources:

  1. https://redcosmetica.com/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-red-lipstick/ -
  2. https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/red-lipstick-history-beauty/index.html
  3. https://citizen-femme.com/2022/12/23/red-lipstick-history/
  4. https://www.makeup.com/makeup-tutorials/expert-tips/history-of-red-lipstick
  5. https://besamecosmetics.com/blogs/blog/17-makeup-secrets-of-marilyn-monroe

Read: 543 times                                                  © Fashion Lifestyle Magazine, issue 124, July 2023

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