Friday, 1 February 2013

Masterclass - History of Lipstick Trends

We need to head back 5000 years to see evidence of the first type of lipstick wore the Egyptians. This was a mixture of crushes precious stones, clay, rust, henna and seaweed. There was also a mixture of bromine mannite mixed with iodine that was commonly used, this combination of deep purple stain would get the reputation of 'Kiss of Death' due to the toxic mixture. Queen Cleopatra (51BC and 30BC) was wiser and used a mixture of beeswax and crushed ants with fish scales to add shine.

Queen Nefertiti (1370 – 1330 BC)

It wasn't until get to the Middle Ages that this cosmetics fall out of favour with Upper Classes as it was presented that only prostitutes and lower classes should be wear. It took Elizabeth I to start the trend again with her pale face and crimson lips - stained with beeswax and either rose or geranium flowers.

As we pass through 17th century the church declares make up as, "the work of the devil" and in 1770 was outlawed alongside any make-up. Any woman found wearing it would be declared a witch and burnt at the stake. Even through we eventually lose the witch burning, wearing cosmetics of any kind was still frowned upon well into Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901), who declared that wearing make-up was vulgar and indecent. Women smuggled in cosmetics from France to fulfil the void during this time.

By the late 1890's make-up started to be declared socially acceptable and lipstick started to slowly become popular. In 1920's saw lipstick sales increase as women embraced being more independent, alongside the ease of new lipstick products coming onto the market, including the invention of the swivel motion that we see in today's lipsticks.


The first trends saw deep garnets and blacks in small delicate shapes on the centre of the lips. This developed into deep red-browns as we head into 1930's in longer elongated shapes. It was this time that Elizabeth Arden introduced a large range of different colours to the market which provided the inspiration of other companies starting ranges. Also at this time lipstick was seen as a 'womans' product and not for young girls, while the adults still saw it as an act of rebellion.

As we head into the 1940's and the World Wars women was encourage to wear brighter reds to boost moral for the troops. Women in the forces were given tubes of red lipstick and instructions on how to wear it. This also transferred onto the Hollywood stars of the time Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford with full symmetrical pouts.

1950's saw a separation of styles, Marylin Manroe with her luscious red lips and Audrey Hepburn with her softer pink colour. This was the biggest time of creativity, production and application techniques. The style extended over the natural lip line to give a bigger appearance.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1950's

The freedom of the 60's and 70's let convention go out of the window. With the focus more on the eyes, pale pearl lipsticks sticks were the trend while the focus went onto the eyes. More division came in the 70's with the glam rockers and new romantics embracing darker purple and blacks, with disco embracing crimson and burgundy glosses.

The boom of cosmetics in 1980's was the build up to 1990's, the 80's embraced bold statements in application very much like the fashion of the time. The 90's were all about taking styles and influences from fashion and models (as well as creating make up artist into celebraties - Bobbi Brown being a key figure at this time). This also starts the seasonal colour changes that we see today with brown natural tones being popular with lips being brown or taupe shades (At this time I was 16 and wearing Heather Shimmer by Rimmel - the ultimate 90's lipstick).

Jennifer Aniston at the height of her fame in 'Friends' - The pinnacle of 90's fashion

As we enter a new millennium lipstick technology becomes more advanced and the trends change every three months to go with the latest changes in fashion and consumer need. Lipstick still is an essential to any collection that is brought out with the stand alone classics that stand the test of time (5000 years to be exact).


  1. Lovely wee post :)
    I just went to an Egyptian exhibition at the museum it was super nice to see everything in detail from back then! :) x

    1. I could imagine it was an interesting thing to go to, researching these Masterclasses it interesting how far back the use of cosmetics is. x

  2. This was really interesting. thanks for sharing. x

  3. This is so interesting and original thank you!

  4. Amazing post!

    Found your blog over at #bbloggers Blog Hop! Following!

    xo, Vita

    1. Welcome from the #bbloggers hop, always a good place to get new blogs from x

  5. I love makeup and cosmetics history and the reasons behind it. great post.

    1. Thank you very much, they're really interesting to do.


Please feel free to leave messages, suggestions and general musings on life below. All comments are moderated before posting. Thank you