Fun facts about Lipstick
Lipstick is a product that everyone can imagine and that almost every woman has had in her hands at some point. In this article you can read what it is, where it comes from and how to use it.
What is lipstick?
Lipstick is a lipstick product that accentuates your lips. The product usually comes in a twist-off tube with a cap on top. When the cap is taken off, the bottom of the case can be twisted. The lipstick comes out and can be placed against the lips. The lipstick itself is pressed in a typical shape; a long and narrow stick. And at the top, the stick is cut at an angle so that it can be placed against the lips while still showing the lip line. If it was cut straight, it would be almost impossible to see the lip line when applying the lipstick (and you wouldn't be able to colour your lips as precisely). The cut-off top is common to all brands and is typical of lipsticks in a tube.
Nowadays there are also liquid lipsticks, more on that later.
Origins of Lipstick
In ancient Mesopetamia (present-day Iraq, Syria, parts of Iran and parts of Turkey) gemstones were used to colour lips. Women would pulverise all kinds of gemstones and apply the powder to their lips. To add an extra gloss, pulverised fish scales were used. And in Egypt, in addition to gemstones, plants and beetles were used from which red dyes were extracted. These forms of creativity were often punished because many women became ill from what they applied to their lips. Apparently, they took the slogan "he who wants to be beautiful must suffer" a little too literally.
Between the 8th and 12th centuries, lips were also beautifully decorated in the Arab empire. During this period, a 'solid lipstick' was developed in Andalusia (southern Spain): a perfumed stick that was rolled and pressed into a sleeve. This was called 'Al-Tasrif' and was soon used by many women in the Arab Empire. In later times, during the Middle Ages, lipstick was banned by the Church in Europe! The Church considered lipstick to be an appearance of Satan, and make-up was associated with prostitutes. Because of the great church influence, lipstick was soon no longer used. Until.... in the 16th century, the English Queen Elizabeth the First declared red lips and a white face to be 'fashionable' and 'chic' for wealthier women. At this time, lipstick consisted largely of beeswax and red dyes from plants and was applied with a brush. And besides rich women, male actors/actresses used this lipstick too! However, the fact that lipstick was still not accepted in society became clear in 1770 when a bill was introduced in England, stating that marriages had to be cancelled if the bride wore lipstick the day before her wedding (because it was associated with prostitution). Fortunately, this law was never accepted by parliament!
At the end of the 19th century, the first commercial lipstick was developed by perfumers in Paris; a mixture of oil, beeswax and deer tallow supplemented with dye. This was then wrapped in a silk paper and offered for sale. In 1915, lipstick was sold for the first time in a metal twist-out sleeve. Around 1920, it was 'hip' to be photographed, women felt like film stars and it was a break from the daily grind, and to brighten up their appearance a dark red lipstick was invariably used. Inspired by this, women such as Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder started selling lipsticks in their salons and inspired manufacturers to develop various colours of lipstick, other than just dark red. The use of lipstick exploded as a result and was generally seen as a symbol of sexuality and by teenagers as a symbol of femininity. By 1937 it was so hot that 50% of teenage girls were arguing with their parents about the use of lipstick! It was also at this time that the lipstick ferrule came into being, made of plastic rather than metal. Just after the Second World War, the hype seemed to be over for a while; books and magazines proclaimed that men preferred a 'natural look' for women. And the same books and magazines warned teenage girls that making yourself up would be detrimental to your career and popularity! So despite the explosion in the use of lipstick in the 1930s, it was still considered by many to be a 'bad/ordain' product used to seduce men. Then in the 1950s, the film industry broke through and sexy women like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were in full public view, with dark red lips! As a result, in a very short time, no less than two-thirds of all teenage girls started wearing lipstick; they all wanted that sexy popular look like Marilyn Monroe. It was at this time that manufacturers started to develop many pink and peach lipsticks. This was a concession to the battle between parents and teenagers; bright red lips were considered vulgar by parents, but a lighter colour was an acceptable alternative. These lighter colours were particularly popular in the 60s and sometimes even skin-coloured lipstick was applied to create a 'nude/natural' look. And contrary to the negative connotations that lipstick used to have, in the 60s it was often thought that a woman was mentally ill or a lesbian if she didn't use lipstick! Since the 60s there has been a wide variety of lipsticks, from pink, natural and red to more extreme colours such as green, blue and black. And in the 1990s, as an innovation, a lipstick without beeswax was developed; the liquid semi-permanent long-lasting lipstick which is almost impossible to remove from the lips.
Lipstick went through an uphill struggle and, depending on the era in which the struggle took place, was sometimes a winner and sometimes a loser. In modern times, there is no judgement as to whether you use lipstick or not; it is one of many make-up products and whether you use it or not is a matter of personal preference.
What types of lipsticks are there?
Lipsticks are distinguished by their colour, shine and how long they stay on your lips. Here's a short explanation:
Colour: Red is still the most popular lipstick colour. But pink shades are almost as popular. There are also a lot of orange/coral lipsticks being sold these days. Nudes, which are very natural looking colours, are also doing well, especially with younger girls who are using lipsticks for the first time. And of course, colours like silver, black and blue are still available.
Feel: Every lipstick feels different. Shiny lipsticks tend to feel greasy and oily. A matt lipstick feels drier because it doesn't contain many emollients. A cream lipstick feels 'glide-on' because it contains more wax than oil. Nowadays there are also liquid lipsticks (similar to a lip gloss but with a higher coverage) and lipsticks in jumbo pencils (similar to normal lip pencils). The drier a lipstick, the longer the colour lasts. The group of lipsticks called 'long lasting' often contain silicone oil which creates a sort of sealing layer over the lips. Did you know that shiny lipsticks make your lips look bigger/fuller and matt lipsticks look smaller/smaller?
Ingredients: Although each brand uses different ingredients, almost all lipsticks contain as basic elements pigments (to give colour to the lipstick), oil, (bees) wax, preservatives and emollients. Many lipsticks also contain a fragrance, which gives the lipstick a fruity scent, for example.
How long does lipstick last?
The shelf life of lipstick is stated on or under the lipstick packaging. Most brands have a shelf life of 24 or 36 months. The shelf life is from the moment you first use the lipstick (from that moment onwards dirt particles will get on the lipstick). There are some factors that can make lipstick last longer; if you clean your lipstick with a tissue after use it will last longer because there will be less bacteria on it. If you use lipstick on a cold sore you are more likely to get lipstick spoiled.
You can generally tell if your lipstick has gone bad by the way it smells (a bit musty) and by the fact that it doesn't glide smoothly over your lips.
How to apply lipstick
Lipstick should be applied in two coats. If you're applying a darker shade, it's a good idea to apply a little concealer or foundation to the outer lip line first to make the transition from skin to lips less obvious and to help sharpen the lipstick application. It also helps to protect the lipstick from bleeding (the small lines around your lips are filled with the foundation/concealer so the lipstick can't bleed into them) and to keep it on better/longer. Apply the lipstick by placing the tip of the lipstick on your lips, following the line of your lips and then colouring the lips. Often start at the cupid's bow (under the nose) and work your way from the centre to one side and then the other. If you want to apply lipstick very precisely, you can also do that with a lip brush; you move the lip brush over the lipstick, and then you trace the inside of your lip line like a pencil. Then use the brush to fill in your lips. After the first layer, carefully pick up a tissue and apply another layer of lipstick in the same way.
If you want to apply your lipstick very precisely, or if you want to correct the shape of your lips a little, a lip pencil is a must. Check out our lip pencil tutorial on this site! Also, if you're applying a bright or dark colour lipstick, it's easy to spot small errors in application. So if you're going for a bold look, make sure your lipstick follows the line of your lips exactly and looks good!
Generally lipstick comes off on its own, the speed with which it does so depends on how oily it is and how much you eat/drink. A greasy lipstick will come off after an hour, but a well applied lipstick can last up to four hours. And a lipstick in combination with a pencil can last up to 8 hours. If you do want to remove your lipstick earlier, do so with a gentle cleansing milk on a cotton pad or tissue. Avoid 'brushing'! The skin on your lips is very thin and fragile and brushing hard and rough can damage or irritate them.