Who Invented the First Lipstick?

Lipstick Invention

In today modern environment, we cannot envision a world where female population is not using lipsticks in public appearances. But such time existed, when lipsticks were either hard to make, forbidden to use, unfashionable, and in some extreme cases even made from traditional materials that were poisonous. We don’t know who made first lipstick, because they appeared very early in our history, and have traveled through ages and civilizations with varying degrees of success and acceptance by general public. What we do known though, are some of the most important points in the lipsticks history that enabled it to become such ever-present fashion item today.

Even though we can determine that popularity of lipsticks became truly worldwide during 1920s and 1930s, its history reached much farther in the past. First paint products that were used to decorate lips of fashionable male and female users were created around 5 thousand in Ancient Mesopotamia. There, females used crushed gemstones to decorate their faces, but similar traditions soon reached Indus Valley Civilization and Egypt. While Indus Valley practiced creation of paints that were poisonous and in some cases deadly, Egypt chemist worked on much more useable formulas that remained in use all untill end of the Egyptian empire. Modern historian remembered the fact that famous Cleopatra often weared red lipstick that was made from crushed red carmine beetles.

For more than thousand years after the fall of Egypt, European population almost forgot about lipstick. They did not practice it in any occasion, and Christian Church popularized belief that red lipstick is the sign of the Satan worshiping. With such bad environment, lipsticks managed to resurface only in 16th century on the court of English Queen Elizabeth I. Her fashion of stark white faces and bright red lips popularized lipstick across entire England, but only for a small period of time. After this fashion trend passed, lipstick became marginalized and left to be used only by professional actors and the lowest classes of people (such as prostitutes).

Changes of fashion regarding lipstick finally came at the end of 19th century. By then lipsticks finally started being produced in commercial use, packaged in metal tubes, and finally receiving their famous swivel-up mechanism in 1923. This enabled lipstick to become cheap, and easy to use, which quickly brought it to the booming film industry. With the promotions from famous movie actresses in 1930s and 1950s (Sarah Bernhardt, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor), lipsticks soon became present on all four corners of the world.

Even though we cannot determine what point in lipstick history is the most important one, all of those events contributed in the rise of this extremely popular fashion item that is today a part of our lives.