Nowadays, there is no dearth of red lipsticks, as is apparent on all mainstream media. Almost all brands have developed a shade of red that they consider iconic, and have a variety of these gorgeous tints ranging from cool to warm undertones. But even the most iconic red lipstick has evolved from pretty humble beginnings, not to mention dangerous ones.
The first kinds of lip stains or lipsticks were crushed berries or fruits that women rubbed over their lips. The earliest recorded instance of people wearing lipstick was in 3500 BC by the Sumerian queen Shub-ad. The lipstick was created by blending crushed red rocks and white lead, making it quite unsafe for use. The Egyptians too heavily favoured the use of lipsticks for both men and women, although they used it to highlight social positions and class. It was in Egypt that the shade, Carmine, was discovered and lipsticks were made mostly by crushing cochineal insects, wax and animal fat.
Lipsticks closer to as we know them now were invented by the Mesopotamians. The women ground precious and semi-precious stones into a fine dust and applied that paste on to their lips. The first solid lipstick in a tube form was invented by an Arab cosmetician called Abu al-Qasim al-Zahraw; the lipsticks were perfumed sticks rolled and pressed into shape sometime in the 10th century.
While women in Asia, Africa and the Middle-East had a long standing relationship with lipsticks, the scene in Europe was vastly different. Lipsticks were banned in the medieval period for being unchristian.
In the Renaissance, Queen Elizabeth I brought wearing lipsticks back in vogue as she adored applying dark rouge on her lips. They went in and out of fashion with changing times until finally by the turn of the 20th century, makeup and lipsticks were socially acceptable for all classes.
American inventor Maurice Levy first introduced lipsticks in sliding metal tubes in 1915. The western world slowly began to warm up to red lipsticks in the face of the swing movement and cinema. It was during the World Wars and after that red lipstick achieved the iconic status it enjoys now. Marketed as a device which enables women to get in touch with their feminine side and wield their sexuality by brands like Elizabeth Arden and Revlon led women to using red lipsticks in droves.
The waves of feminism changed how lipstick was perceived yet again, but since the advent of the disco-era and the popularisation of cherry and ruby red lips by icons like Madonna and Cher, and more recently Adele; red lipsticks are here to stay and are pretty much the fashionista's key to ruling the world.