Red lips can be traced back to Upper class Mesopotamians who applied crushed semi-precious jewels to their lips. The Egyptians used a series of materials to create red shaded lips, from a combination of fucus-algin, iodine, and bromine mannite to Cleopatra supposedly using a mixture of crushed carmine beetles and ants to color her lips red.
The ancient Arab cosmetologist, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi has been credited for inventing the first solid lipsticks, which he described in his writings as perfumed sticks rolled and pressed in special molds. Red lips fell out of fashion when the Catholic Church condemned the use of cosmetics. It wasn't until the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I favored the look of bright lips paired with pale faces. At some point the trend of red lips were only seen worn on lower class women and prostitutes. It wasn't until the industrial revolution when lipsticks came back into fashion. Manufacturing became easier, prices were lower and film actresses popularized the look.
Now lipstick is a must in women's wardrobes and lipstickhistory.com tells me, that "countless lipstick brands fight for worldwide supremacy and invention of new recipes. Over 80% of women in North America use lipstick regularly and over 30% of them have 20 lipsticks in their possessions in any time of their adult life." It makes me wonder, how many lipsticks do I currently own?
The history of lipstick began with vanity and will continue to stay as long as there is fashion. Maybe it's circumstantial that I immediately connect the color Red with lips, seeing how my work closely relates to the fashion and cosmetic industry. I can't stop thinking though, about how interesting it is how we relate colors and how for every color there seems to be an object or concept applied to it. Almost like the color's identity must be tied to a subject or a story.
What's your color story?