Lipstick isn’t just a thing of the recent past – from the Mesopotamian Era where women used crushed precious stones, rust and clay to stain their lips to the latest surprises from Kylie Jenner’s snapchat, lipstick has always had its own little place in society. But before it became most women’s go-to makeup saviour, lipstick went through quite a turbulent journey of its own.
In Ancient Europe, lipstick was banned and was often associated with Satan. The Middle Ages reflected this thought as it was widely believed that red lipstick was a sign of challenging God. In Britain, there were even superstitions which stated that if a woman had worn makeup before her marriage day, the marriage should be annulled. And in the Greek Empire, wearing lipstick was the sign of prostitution – in fact, laws were made which prosecuted prostitutes that didn’t wear lipstick. However, as time went on, natural colours were slowly accepted in Christian societies as they were said to depict innocence – in comparison to darker colours which signified witch craft.
This thought continued until the end of the 19th century when woman started using lipstick as a means of rebellion. They used it to show their defiance against authority as they started paving their way in the work environment. As the 1930s brought about a fresh wave of elegance, bright red lips became an instant hit amongst women everywhere, unwittingly reminiscent of Cleopatra’s signature style, which involved using ants as a base and carmine beetles for pigment.
Lipstick was an affordable but luxurious product which made women “feel like a million dollars”. During the Second World War, as women entered the workforce in increasing numbers, wore lipstick as a symbol of independence and identity. The 70s saw darker shades of lipsticks that furthered this display of self-confidence, and the 90s brought about the trend of a darker lip liner to outline the lips. Fast forward to the present, a more matte and natural look has become more popular, bringing us back full circle.
Throughout the years, lipstick has become an essential asset to women, whether it’s as a symbol of empowerment in the work place or as a morale booster through the years of war. Even something as simple as this has acted as a mascot for feministic rebellion regardless of country or time period. Women have always looked to it, even if just to make them feel a little more fashionable, and it hasn’t let us down yet.
So if you’re feeling particularly badass? Wear red with a matte finish. Aiming for a more chic look? Nude colours are a thing now. You’ve somehow managed to look like a hobo? Putting on lipstick will turn that into a ‘look’. There is a colour for every occasion and every woman, and if you haven’t found yours yet, you can always make it yourself. There’s even a lipstick that changes to the perfect pink according to the pH of your lips. It’s almost too easy.
So if you’ve been living under a rock like me and have just realised how much of a life saver lipstick can be, it’s not too late to start hoarding.