|While there is no evidence, historians say it’s likely that lipstick, like humans themselves, evolved from prehistoric times when they started to smear plant juices on their faces for religious ceremonies — and perhaps just to make themselves more attractive to that cute Neanderthal next door.|
As early as 2500 BC, and certainly by 1000 BC, Sumerian men and women in southern Mesopotamia invented and wore lipstick. They are thought to have crushed gemstones and used them to decorate their faces, mainly on the lips and around the eyes. Egyptians also adopted this fashion craze. According to records, they mixed a red dye extracted from seaweed with iodine and bromine mannite, which can be highly toxic. Over time a safer lipstick made from crushed carmine beetles and ants was used.
|In ancient Greece only prostitutes were allowed to flaunt scarlet lip paint. This led to the first known law related to lipstick, which dictated that prostitutes could be punished for improperly posing as ladies if they appeared in public without their designated lip paint. In ancient Rome both genders used lipstick to distinguish social class and rank. Around 1000 AD famed physician and chemist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi perfected a formula for solid lipsticks, and these perfumed sticks became the basis for today’s cosmetics.|
|For the next 1,000 years lipstick was both revered and despised. During the Middle Ages religious groups condemned makeup for “challenging God and his workmanship.” In the 1500s, English pastors denounced lip painting as “the devil’s work,” but that didn’t stop Queen Elizabeth I from using a mix of cochineal, gum Arabic, egg white and fig milk to produce crimson lips that became the rage. In 1770, Britain passed a law that condemned lipstick on the grounds that “women found guilty of seducing men into matrimony by cosmetic means could be tried for witchcraft.”|
|It wasn’t until the late 1800s that lipstick started coming out of the closet. Famed actress Sarah Berhardt shocked the world by daring to apply lipstick in public. By 1912, suffragettes marched down the streets of New York proudly wearing their bright red lipstick. Red lipstick became the 'it' symbol of female rebellion.|
According to various studies and surveys, the average woman today will use 9 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime and nearly half say they own more than 20 at any given time. Lipstick had truly arrived.