The Lipstick and the History of Cosmetics

The lipstick is a small but effective magic wand for the women. Locked and inconspicuous, it is hidden in millions of handbags. Until the modern day, it had to go through a lot that made the men weak. It became the weapon of the women. In the 1960's, a KGB agent even turned it into a gun with which she could shoot a 4.5-millimeter bullet!

In fact, lipstick, with its colors and the energy it emits, has always represented the woman and her femininity. It is a tool that beautifies the woman, gives her security, joy, and determination. The lips are transformed into a seductive and feminine tool.

Makeup for queens and artists

Historical records prove that even in prehistory, women already felt the need to feel attractive. They made rustic makeup from clay, animal fat and herbs, and used it on their lips and cheeks to protect from sunlight. The reason why they did it was to differentiate themselves from the other women and for the dominant man to take them into account. The color on the lips was a sign of health and fertility. The redder they were, the more chance it would draw attention.

5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, women also made their own lipstick. It was an extremely luxurious product as it was made from crushed semi-precious stones and sometimes with poisonous substances such as mercury. In all antiquity they were worn by both men and women, to emphasize their high social status.

The oldest find, which suggests this, dates from 3500 BC. During excavations in the Sumerian city of Ur, researchers discovered a kind of lip sallow. The fact that queens like Nefertiti around 1350 BC not only made the lips signal-red but also clearly emphasized the eyes, is also documented in many ways. The Greek women in the fifth century BC, on the other hand, would never let themselves be seen publicly. In their culture, only female artists and ladies with light skin colored their lips.

Probably, ancient people painted colors in the face. It is unclear to the historians why and how women painted in the Middle Ages. The modern lipstick is just one hundred years old. The oldest testimony to the use of manufactured colors is the Stone Age cave art. The figures carved in fire stone were traced with colors. We also use this date to speak of the beginning of modern human culture.

The ancient Egyptians used colors for their own beauty care. Even the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians and the South American Incas, could claim that they were inventors of cosmetics. These proto-lipsticks actually mimed the sex organs in order to attract the potential men. The red, in particular, was applied on the lips to send a clear invitation message.

lipstick cosmetics lakme mac elf shades images

Traces in the cultural history: the ancient Egyptians

The first traces of the use of cosmetics are found among the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians adorned themselves to become more like the gods. The beauty recipes of the ancient pharaohs were strictly guarded secrets. The Egyptians made their lipsticks with the extract of the red algae. Cleopatra did it with ants and crushed carmine beetles, hence the saying carmine lips.

Cosmetic accessories such as small jewelry boxes and ointment vessels were found in archaeological excavations in Egypt. The age of the objects is estimated to be over 3,000 years. In Egypt, lipstick was so loved that women were buried with it. The favorite colors were magenta, black, and orange, in addition to the classic red.

The Egyptian queen Nefertiti was said to have been of legendary beauty. The beauty care was of central importance at the court of the pharaohs. The ancient Egyptians believed that a person's physical appearance reflected in his soul. In order to arouse the comfort of the gods on the surface of the bodies, they used various products such as eye makeup, facial creams and many different oils for the care of the skin.

During excavation, archaeologists found numerous items of personal hygiene such as cosmetics boxes, ointment vessels, make-up spoons, hand mirrors, tweezers, combs and blades for removing body hair. Cosmetics were also left to the dead in the grave. Due to the hot and dry climate, the ancient Egyptians tried to manufacture creams for the protection from the sun. In the mummification of the dead people used specially prepared ointments to stop the physical decay.

Unlike today, the Egyptians had to deal exclusively with natural ingredients. By adding flowers, tree boughs, and resins, for example, they succeeded in making different oils with different fragrances. Mineral and metallic trace elements such as iron oxide, antimony, and Malachite were mixed with water to form a mass which could then be applied to the face care.

Animal fats, the honey of bees and bee wax were other important ingredients for creams, as well as amber, a waxy substance from the whale's digestive tract, musk, the secretion from a gland of the Moschus, myrrh, the resin of a balsam tree and civet, a substance excreted from the civet cat. To keep the creams, the hollow stems of plants were used, which were then shaped as a tube.

The Cinnabar mineral in ancient Egypt was the ingredient for a paste for coloring the lips. Nowadays this ingredient is highly valued. The leaves of the hen's smoke were used for dyeing the palms of the hands and the fingernails, and for other cosmetic paints. To this end, the leaves were pulverized and stirred with water, a practice that is still in use today especially in the Arab countries.

Around the eyes, the old Egyptian makeup was of resins and minerals such as green malachite and gray lead. Even charcoal and soot were used. A greasy red paste was used for lips and cheeks with the addition of the cinnabar mineral.

Some of the ingredients used by the Egyptians were highly poisonous, as we now know. Priests and their assistants have been responsible for the production of cosmetics. The oldest known recipes for the production of cosmetic products are found in an old medical writing called Papyrus Ebers. This document was found in archaeological excavations in the 19th century in the ancient royal city of Luxor.

Not only the distinguished women at the court of the pharaohs painted their faces but also the distinguished men. Both sexes thus appeared more or less conspicuously painted according to the occasion.

Greek Antiquity: Learning from the Egyptians

The conquests of the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great to Persia and Egypt brought new knowledge about the production of cosmetics to ancient Greek culture. When Alexander first conquered Egypt and then the Persian empire in the fourth century BC, he and his companions were informed about the production of cosmetics that were unknown in the Greek cities.

Both Egyptians and Persians were masters in the production of creams, ointments, tinctures, and perfumes. The Greeks took over the recipes from the Egyptians for the preparation of all these artifacts and used them for their personal care, for medical purposes, and also as aids in sexual practices. Likewise, from the Persians, the Greeks received inspiration, especially in the production of perfume.

The new products were so popular with the Greeks that traders were soon able to make flourishing business with the sale of makeup, bath salts, perfumed ointments and saline oil. Greek beauty culture was particularly important for bathing and massage, both of which were practiced in the rooms specially built for this purpose. Here people indulged themselves in an extensive body and beauty care with the cosmetics.

Luxury in ancient Rome

People have been using Henna powder stirred with water for hundreds of years to color skin, nails and hair. The ancient Romans took much of the way of life of the Greeks. The distinguished and rich Romans had a more luxurious lifestyle. For beauty cleansing, fruits were blended with milk and fragrant concentrates. Different perfumes were used for the different parts of the body. However, the Romans did not agree on the extent to which the cosmetics were to be used. Some also rejected them altogether.

Europe: Anti-cosmetic medieval age and Rebirth of makeup

In order to create as pale skin color as possible, people painted with highly toxic substances such as lead white. With the emergence of Christianity in Europe, the prodigious use of cosmetics was soon restricted. Giving too much attention to the body was considered a sin. The outward beauty, on the other hand, was little appreciated. However, the Christian missionaries did not object to the medical use of oils, ointments, and creams. Condemned in the Middle Ages as a color of sin and sexuality that is too provocative and aggressive, red on the lips quickly become a fashion and style icon in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Meanwhile, the art of cosmetics flourished elsewhere in China and the Orient. In the Far East, under the influence of the Daoist religion, the soul was liberated from the plants, in order to keep them in the form of perfume. The Chinese fragrances finally reached Europe via the large trade route of the Silk Road. The ancient Chinese also knew a great deal about the healing powers of plant extracts.

In the Orient, the tradition of cosmetics production and use was also held after the spread of Islam. The European Crusaders also came into contact with cosmetics and their seductive effect on their trains into the East.

Queen Elizabeth I emphasized her red lips by the contrast of her white powdered face in 1500. She used a mixture of insects (red bugs), egg white, milk, fig tree sap, alabaster, plaster, and color particles. She is also supposed to be the first woman who used lipstick in pen form. A late Queen of England made sure that the court smelled the sinful red. Queen Victoria decided in 1860 that make up was impolite and was thus in line with its Puritan age.

In the historical epochs of the Renaissance and particularly in the era of the rococo, also called late baroque, cosmetics experienced a high point in Europe. However, the body and beauty care at the residences were practiced in a strange way from today's point of view. Instead of bathing, it was preferred to brush the unpleasant body odors with perfume, powder, creams, and ointments. It was only with the French Revolution in the eighteenth century that this strange phase of body culture came to an end.

Distinguished women and men used the cosmetics equally. The people identified themselves through the new fashion. A pale face color was regarded as particularly noble. For the white skin, a highly toxic coloring agent was produced, the so-called lead white. To this end, the cheeks and the lips were also colored red, for which the poisonous coloring agent cinnabar was again used.

Modern times: cosmetics for all

Women paint their lips almost every day. In men, however, this is rare. In antiquity, it was quite normal for both men and women to color their lips. In the 19th century after the Industrial Revolution, body care products were manufactured more and more as mass products and thus became affordable to the general public.

Soaps were found in nearly every household, and deodorants, too, were slowly but surely becoming a common thing. Initially, it contained ammonia and therefore was poisonous. With the emergence of the chemical industry, it was possible to replace the complex natural manufacturing steps in the production of cosmetics.

The lipstick that we know now was created by the American inventor Maurice Levy in 1915, which like the present, was a sliding bar with color, which she called Levy Tube. From then on, thousands and thousands of people began to see in lipstick a business opportunity and thought of different formulas, sizes, colors and smells to give the lipstick, to reach the ones we have on the market today.

The first modern lipstick was presented to the public at the world exhibition in Amsterdam in 1883 by Paris perfume manufacturers. The pencil, wrapped in silk paper, was made of castor oil, a product of the African wonder tree, buck deer hide, and beeswax. Lipsticks still contain animal substances such as Coquille from some red insects and pearly essences from fish scales, as well as animal fats and beeswax to increase their duration. At first, it was not only sinful but also very expensive and few women dared to use it.

It was only in the 1920s that chemists were involved in the production of a lipstick that went over the counter at an affordable price. One of the first popular models was the Rouge Baiser or red kiss. The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, a late 19th-century diva, made the lipstick popular when she was on the stage with a cherry-shaped lip. In the Golden Twenties, the triumph of the lipstick finally began.

In the 1950s, the rotary mechanics, which is now standard in many lipsticks, was added. Designers wrapped it in a practical metal sleeve with a sliding mechanism so that the ladies dyed only the lips and not the fingers or the handkerchief. The Revlon brothers Charles and Joseph not only produced the first nail polish, but also the lipstick. In the meantime, retailing of cosmetics became a billion-dollar business both in terms of sales and profit. The world's largest cosmetics producer L'Oréal sells its products in over 130 countries and makes huge profits.

With the advancement of the chemical industry, new artificial products came onto the market, for example, eyelash tufts and creams for tanning the skin or against wrinkles. The newly created mass media had a great influence on the demand for cosmetic articles, especially after the development of the color film. The first cosmetics store chains were created so that the same products could be offered in many places at the same time.

However, the development was severely hampered by the World War II, when many consumers were short of money to buy goods and purchasing consumer goods were strictly restricted. The chemicals necessary for the production of cosmetics were now used for weapon production, and there was a lack of necessary fats and alcohol for cosmetic production. After the war, the concern about their own appearance among the people became the determining theme again.

Nowadays the lipsticks consist of oils, waxes, pigments plus chemicals, which ensure the durability. This effect is achieved with synthetic resins or volatile silicone oils. The question of the health risks of chemically produced cosmetics is still often left behind. The standards are very different from country to country. For example, cheap skin bleaching products are offered in African and Asian countries.

Of course, it is also sad when the social pressure becomes so great that people can no longer stand to their appearance. In many areas of the world, for example, dark-skinned girls see their skin color as an obstacle and try to become light-skinned by means of skin bleaching.

Women in some cultures are not allowed to appear in public without lipstick, such as in Japan for geysers. In 1950, 98% of American women carried lipstick, while only 96% washed their teeth daily! The use of lipstick was wider than the toothbrush! One woman uses on average 4 kg of lipstick throughout her life, spending about $ 2000 to buy this cosmetic.

65% of women use the lipstick daily. 25% of them cannot get out of the house without wearing it. 90% of women wear lipstick because it makes them feel good and not to please men. 80% of women feel less secure in the workplace or at a romantic date if they do not wear their favorite lipstick. A 2010 poll states that 40% of women own more than 20 different lipstick shades!

Every year only 10% of lipsticks are thrown away that are no longer used. 5% of lipsticks end up on glasses, coffee cups, water bottles, and take away glasses. Another 5% remains on knives, forks, and spoons at the time of eating, while 15% is lost during a shower or washing the face. 30% of lipsticks instead find itself inside the body, especially during appetizing tastes, which often lead to licking the lips.

The most expensive lipstick in the world is Guerlain's KissKiss Gold and Diamond lipstick, which costs $ 62,000! It is made with 110 grams of 18k gold and 199 diamonds, in 15 exclusive colors, and is rechargeable. There is also the basic version, without all the extras.