Object of vanity, symbol of sleaze and totem of timeless. To believe that red lipstick has been all of these things is only part of its remarkable history.
As to who first invented lipstick is unclear. Seemingly it was the Mesopotamian were amongst the first to adorn their lips. Using crushed gems and local items to create any desired colour for their mouths. In the Ancient world, one society were noted for their love of beauty and techniques with which attain them, Ancient Egypt. Here red lipstick, if not invented, was surely honed and refined; Common ingredients were crushed Ants and Carmine (eventually created from cochineal insects intestines). Included among the famed Egyptians who were said to harness the power of rouge was the legendary temptress Cleopatra. Red lipstick continued through out the ancient world to be the clear choice for the wealthy women to enhance their looks. However as Ancient societies dissolved and Christianity spread over Europe, Red’s vibrancy had a sporadic and unstable appearance for about thousands of years. Why was this so? Far from being seen as luxurious or a sign of prosperity. Now Red was associated with prostitution and overt vanity. Catholism, in its desire to suppress women and anything deemed ‘immodest’. Cosmetics and especially red lipstick was associated with devil worshipping. Queen Elizabeth I did help to revive briefly Reds allure in the 16th Century. Contrasting the pale face powder with bright red was a striking look, the likes of Rose McGowan and Dita Von Teese can attest to the power of such a look.
Red’s doldrums continued on for another 300 hundred years. One noted champion of red lipstick was actress Sarah Bernhardt. Though her name holds little weight now, she was during the Victorian era a major star of the stage. In 1915 lipstick holders were invented. Before if you wanted to carry lippy in your bag, it was kept in a silk paper. Hardly practical and very messy. Once the age of the flapper dawned; the girl about town could touch up her Cupid bow lip, placing it back in her dinky, discreet purse. Of course I had to mention Hollywood’s love affair with red lippy. Seeing sirens on the silver screen, larger then life with the camera moving forward for a close up, seeing scintillating red jump off the cinema screen. Millions of women wishing to copy their heroines rushed out to buy red lipstick, since not many can afford the Hollywood style beauty routines. To buy one tube of lipstick was an affordable way to recreate a glamorous look. Up to and including today red lipstick is flying off the shelves. 100s of brands, multiple shades (matte or gloss) and varying prices means that anyone can find the shade of red that will add to their own radiance.
If you were to find one common thread between the women featured on this site. Other than they are all stunning looking, they have all worn red lipstick. Plus matte red lipstick marks are so very saucy and chic at the same time. On personal note, I do prefer more of a matte finish than gloss. Gloss can be messy looking and matte reminds me of the dames I admire. Plus if you are more like me and are not high maintenance about your appearance. Red lipstick adds maximum affect with minimal effort. Classic, chic and sensual. Viva rouge.