Red lipstick is a classic essential to every girl’s beauty bag. It’s fashionable 🌟, classy, and flattering, but it’s also a lot more. It’s audacious, daring, indisputably feminine, and visually stunning. Like its color, Red lipstick has a vibrant, turbulent history, steeped in centuries of significance.


Many historians claim that red lipstick was first devised in the Sumerian region of southern Mesopotamia at approximately 3,500 B.C.E. Others ascribe the invention of lipstick to the ancient Egyptian elites, who wore scarlet red lipstick made from crushed bugs as a sign of social supremacy.

Irrespective of its exact origin, wearing red lipstick has long been a powerful social icon with a myriad of connotations. Depending on the place and period, the aesthetic was a teasing sign of enticement, a proclamation of social rank, a display of affluence, or an assertion of confidence.

Following the rise of Christianity and puritanical beliefs, the church forbade the wearing of lipsticks or any makeup. Women wearing lipsticks were accused of being sorcerers and witches, as red lips were being associated with Satan worship.

Prostitutes in Ancient Greece were mandated by law to wear red lipstick, so they could not be mistaken for respectable upper-class ladies. The ancient Greeks used a concoction of red dye, sheep sweat, and crocodile droppings in their lipstick.

Queen Elizabeth rekindled the passion for red lipstick in 16th century England with her signature pale face and crimson lips. However, this time, Red lipstick was solely worn by upper-class women & was made of beeswax and red plant-based dyes.

And by the 1700s, England banned Red Lipstick, purportedly because women were using cosmetics to entice men to marry them. Similar restrictions existed in the United States, authorizing for the repudiation of marriage if revealed that the lady had been courting with red lipstick.

Until the late 1800s, most lipsticks were manufactured at home with carmine extracted from insects called cochineal. In 1884, French perfumers created the first commercially available lipstick, using a concoction of deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax. Lipsticks did not come in plastic or metal tubes like it does today. Rather, they were sold in paper tubes, little pots, and paper-wrapped bundles.

In the late 1800s, Guerlain began making red lipstick with grapefruit, butter, and wax. In the late 1890s, the Sears Roebuck catalog featured rouge for the lips and cheeks.

In 1911, metal lipstick tubes were debuted, making it possible for ladies to retouch their lipstick quickly and easily.

By 1912, stylish ladies in Western culture were openly wearing makeup.

As women’s use of make-up rose, so did the colors and materials used in lipstick. Brightly colored lipstick had become an emblem of sexual and social defiance by the 1970s. In the 1980s, red became the “it” color.

Natural colors and substances became popular in the 1990s. Lipstick accounted for nearly $9.4 billion in cosmetic sales at the turn of the century.

Two inventors are credited with creating the “tube” of lipstick, that enabled women to carry lipstick in their handbags.

  • The metal tube container for lipstick was designed by Maurice Levy of the Scovil Manufacturing Company in 1915. It had a little lever on the side of the tube that lowered and lifted the lipstick. The “Levy Tube” was the name given to Levy’s innovation.
James Bruce Mason Jr.
  • The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923 by James Bruce Mason Jr.

Earlier lipstick formulae utilized pigment powder, crushed insects, butter, beeswax, and olive oil, however, these early formulas only lasted for a few hours before getting rancid, and they often had negative health consequences.

Paul Baudercroux, a French chemist, created the Rouge Baiser formula in 1927, touted as the very first kiss-proof lipstick. Rouge Baiser, seemingly, was so good at staying on one’s lips that it had to be pulled from the market as it was too difficult to remove.

Decades later, in 1950, Hazel Bishop, a chemist, created No-Smear Lipstick, a new type of long-lasting lipstick, and it became a phenomenal commercial success.

Max Factor, a Polish immigrant cosmetician, founded the brand in 1909, which went on to become one of the most well-known in the history of beauty. In the 1930s, Max Factor introduced their first lip gloss, the first to be worn by movie stars, however soon wider populace also started wearing it.

The Red lip color is here to stay & will forever remain a cult classic.

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