Discover the history of lipstick. Is it possible that it was first used by men?

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  • Monday, February 12, 2018
Discover the history of lipstick. Is it possible that it was first used by men?
Discover the history of lipstick. Is it possible that it was first used by men?

Lipstick is a cosmetic product made of oils and wax containing pigments; it is used for coating lips with a soft layer tht add more attractiveness and beauty to facial features, and especially to lips. Lipstick is associated in our minds with women, but historical studies that go back to 5000 BC show that men used lipstick, before women, for social, religious and cosmetic reasons. Hunters used lipstick for camouflage purposes, priests used it for religious reasons and young men used it to attract the opposite sex.


BC era

In the period ranging from 2500 to 1000 BC, women from Mesopotamia (actual Iraq) started using lipstick which was made from powdered precious stones to embellish their lips and eyes. The product reached the Sindh Valley (in actual Pakistan) at that period. After that, Egyptians invented a kind of violet red color lipstick made from seaweeds, iodine and bromide; it was a poisonous mixture that caused serious complications. After that, aristocratic women in the pharaonic civilization started using a lipstick made of a pearlescent material extracted from fish scales. Cleopatra exclusively used a red lipstick extracted from beetles, ants and seashell.


AD era

In 1000 AD, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, the Arab physician from Andalusia, invented the first solid lipstick. In the Middle Ages and until the end of the sixteenth century, Christian clergymen banned lips coloring because they believed that it was associated with satanic rituals.

Sixteenth century:


By the turn of that century and under the reign of the Elizabeth the first, queen of Great Britain, lipstick manufacturing became safer; it was made from honey wax and red color plants. The queen popularized the pale white skin and bright red lipstick look; but lipstick was only used by aristocratic ladies and by actresses.

Seventeenth century:


Strict decrees were issued in England against the use of cosmetics; this resulted in a decline in the development of cosmetics, specifically when the British parliament issued a law in 1770 stipulating that a marriage can be declared null if the woman wore cosmetics before her wedding.

End of the eighteenth century:


During the reign of Queen Victoria, putting makeup was considered impolite and indecent; it was a major taboo at the time. French actress Sarah Bernhardt used to wear lipstick in public.

From 1900 to 1920

At the beginning of the twentieth century, lipstick made a popular reappearance. In 1915, a certain Maurice Levy invented the first metal lipstick tube; before that lipstick was sold wrapped in silk paper.


Commercial advertising began to play a role in marketing lipstick; this period witnessed the appearance of a lipstick containing sun protection ingredients.


With the outbreak of World War II, the world of makeup witnessed a revolution; chemist Hazel Bishop decided to launch a no-smear lipstick that stays in place for a full day.


This was the golden age for lipstick; it was used by the movie stars of that period such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth and many others. In the 60’s and 70’s of last century, many new lipstick colors appeared.


Many brands appeared on the market and lipstick in classic red color was a trending color in that period.

1990 until now

A big expansion took place in the world of makeup; it became associated with top models and stars such as Claudia Schiffer, Rita Ora, Taylor Swift and others.

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