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History of Lipstick

From its rising popularity in the 16th century, to being tried as witches for its use, lipstick has come a long way. Here are some interesting facts on its evolution.
Bidisha Mukherjee
A modern-day lipstick is made up of a large number of ingredients like oils, waxes, emollients, and pigments. The wax gives a proper shape to the lipstick while the oil and fat content give it a soft, yet firm texture.
Other than that, emollients like aloe vera or vitamin E help to keep the lips moisturized. It may also have other additives like alcohol as preservatives, and sunscreen, as well as varied other fragrances added to enhance the utility of the same.
Lipstick is an indispensable part of the makeup kit of millions of modern women all across the world. This is mainly because it is an easy and inexpensive way to make a fashion statement.
One might think that this is a rather modern practice, but if ones looks at the history of this beauty product, you will find that the practice of using it in order to enhance women's lips has been around for thousands of years.

Evolution of Lipstick

Various historical records suggest that lipstick has its origins in ancient Mesopotamia, dating back almost 5000 years. It has been found that the women of the ancient Babylonian city of Ur mixed crushed semi precious stones with a paste and applied it on the lips to add color to them.
Evidence has also been found that women in the Indus valley civilization applied red color on their lips. In the ancient Roman civilization, women who belonged to the upper class used lip colors that they manufactured at home.
In ancient Egypt too, women tinted their lips with an attractive purple-red color. They used to combine iodine and a compound of bromine known as bromine mannite to obtain a lip color which proved to be highly toxic. For this reason, it was later known as the 'kiss of death'.
It is said that Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, used crushed carmine beetles, ant's eggs and henna to prepare the luscious red color for her lips. To add some shimmering effect to the lip color, extracts from fish scales were also used.
Abu al-Quasim al-Zahrwai created the first lipstick in the form of a stick around 900 A.D. He belonged to the Andalusia area of Spain and is often referred to as the father of modern surgery. He used wax to form the base to which fragrances were added and then pressed into a mold.
During the Middle Ages, the popularity of lipstick declined. In that era, lipstick was considered to be a cosmetic which was suitable only for prostitutes and women from the lower classes. Hence, women belonging to the upper class stopped using it.
Lipstick regained its popularity in the 16th century Elizabethan era, and Queen Elizabeth I of England herself used a bright red color on her lips, as well as chalked her face white with powder.
Once again, in the mid 17th century, lipstick faced stiff opposition from an England pastor named Thomas Hall. He led a movement that strongly opposed the use of any kind of cosmetics and regarded painting of faces as 'Devil's Work'.
In 1770, the British Parliament passed a law to ban wearing lipstick. It stated that if a woman wears lipstick, she could be tried as a witch.
In the late 1890s, the popularity of lipstick started rising all over again. Gradually, it became a craze among women. The Hollywood film industry was a major contributor in this regard. Women wanted to have enhanced and fuller lips like their favorite female actors and thus the sales of lipstick soared.
The small pot of lip color was replaced by the push up tube around the year 1915. With time, women wanted a lipstick that stayed on their lips for a longer period of time. Thus the "kiss-proof" lipstick came into being. It was introduced into the market by a cosmetic company called Hazel Bishop Inc. in 1950.
Today, one can find lipsticks in a wide range of shades. Apart from the color choices, there are also lipsticks in the market with special ingredients that are essential for lip care. Some of them have sunscreens, moisturizers and conditioners in order to keep the lips healthy.