Friday, January 24, 2014

Lipstick Through The Ages

We all probably know when our own personal history with lipstick started.
Probably around the first time we consciously saw our mothers applying a coat of the stuff. I don't know about you, but I had to get my hands on it and the first time I did I was just a baby. I went into my mom's purse and stole a tube of red lipstick she had been given as a gift with purchase at one of the makeup counters. I proceeded to take this tube filled with pure beauty and...well I was a baby...smeared it all over my face, hair, hands and lastly and probably most memorably, the carpet. My mother must have known she had a makeup fiend on her hands. For me I saw makeup as a way to fill my time when I was lonely when I lived in a small town through my high school years, to make me feel pretty and powerful when I really didn't and something I knew I was good at. Lipstick was always my favorite.

But why am I talking all about of this? Because I got to thinking about what makeup (in this case lipstick) meant to me and it made me wonder what makeup meant for others and what did makeup mean in terms of society. Well luckily there is a little thing called Google where I was able to find my answers and I thought I'd share them with you.

Apparently it was about 5000 years ago that women were first shown to be using some form of lipstick and makeup. They would crush gemstones and adorn themselves with it, mainly around the eyes and lips. Hello eye shadow and lipstick of the past! Even the Egyptian people gave it a go, unfortunately the mix was toxic. 
Fast forward a bit to 16th Century England and lipstick had begun to gain popularity during the time of Queen Elizabeth, famed not only for never taking a king and for defeating Spain when they made an attempt to overtake England and many other political moves, she also was known for her snow white skin and bright red lips. Now I'm not saying she couldn't have run England and done all this without lipstick and makeup, but it couldn't have hurt having it as part of her arsenal. 

In the year 1770 it was proposed to Parliament that a woman's marriage should be annulled if it was found out she was wearing makeup before her wedding day. So even then makeup was viewed as
 a powerful thing. 
Then in the mid 1800's it was considered brazen or lacking refinement to wear makeup.
(Oh how times have changed!)
Speed up a bit to 1884 and you have a Parisian perfumer making the first commercially sold lipstick.
By the 1920's makeup was worn openly by the fashionable London ladies.
NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama $6.00
The 1920's: Deep reds were the first shades of lipstick and held their popularity throughout the 1920's, when lipstick began to take on a meaning that seems quite akin to Queen Elizabeth, flappers wore it as a symbol of independence. It strikes me as funny that the shade that now I've heard women say "Oh I'm not that brave. I couldn't wear red.", was the first color available. A statement from the start.
Urban Decay Lipstick in Bang $22.00
The 1930's: Girls began to see lipstick as a symbol of being a woman, a representation of adult sexuality. Again it was being seen as an act of rebellion my adults, adults who were not Elizabeth Arden that is. Yet another Elizabeth was saying yes to lipstick and started creating more shades of the glamour in a tube. Other companies quickly followed suit. Lips were here to stay. Most teens were not yet permitted to wear lipstick, much to there distress.
Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Fuchsia Shock $22.00
The 1940's: By this time they were still trying to convince us lipstick was a bad idea. That it could hold us back in life, that boys didn't like it and that makeup as a whole was a big NO. Articles ran warning that only promiscuous girls wore rouge and lipstick. Though makeup was now a consumer product, not something one made at home anymore, lipstick was still seen as something for prostitutes and "loose" women.  
Lime Crime Lipstick in Geradium $18.00
The 1950's: Just in time another Elizabeth (Taylor) with a great deal of help from a certain Marilyn (Monroe) had the red lips in full swing, yet again. By 1951 two thirds of American teenage girls were donning red lips.This was a great time for lipstick. The invention of a long-lasting, smear-proof, kiss-proof lipstick was made by Hazel Bishop Inc. "Stays on you...Not him." Rather cheeky! (No pun intended) Max Factor was on the scene and was mixing up Strawberry Meringue, one of the more popular shades. Lipstick companies started making shades much like that of today's Lime Crime shades. Whites, pinks, peaches, and light purples. Apparently parents felt more comfortable with their girls rocking a pink lip. 
M.A.C Lipstick in Viva Glam Nicki 2 Amplified (Limited Addition) 
The 1960's: By now we were in the dog days of lipstick! It was a symbol of femininity and was practically unacceptable not to wear it. Everyone was wearing lipstick and if you weren't you were questioned to be mentally ill. (That escalated quickly!) 
Kat Von D for Sephora Lipstick in Rosary $19.00
The 1970's: Anything goes! Lipstick brands were pumping out tubes of lime, navy and deep purples.
Kat Von D for Sephora Lipstick in Backstage Bambi $19.00
The 1980's: Bright pinks and reds were worn mixed with those great blue eye shadows. Nude and brick shades were often worn by the corporate working woman. Glosses began to seriously take over. Of course tons of other shades were by this point totally acceptable and no one thought anything to see a red lip. 
Urban Decay Lipstick in Fiend $22.00
The 1990's: Time to bring back in the deep berry tones made famous by Clara Bow (also known for her Cupids Bow) in the 1920's. When ever I think statement berry lips in the 90's I think of Drew Barrymore, her fair skin with those shocking lips. This good-for-all-skin-tones color was a 90's staple. Along with this beautiful (in my opinion always classic) trend came the browns and nudes. 
The Now: We saw many glossy bronze, nude mocha, shades hit the shelves at the beginning of the millennium. I like to call these "The 90's roll-overs" think 7th Heaven. Also a lot of milky-nude and baby pinks were being worn by the younger girls and sparkle gloss from Lip Smackers was in nearly every 9-17 year old's bag. In about 2005 we saw the earth-toned shades deepen and become more of statement shades. By 2007 the red lip was officially back in a big way. Classic shades from decades past were back with a vengeance! I personally remember seeing this first on Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) on the first episode of the first season of Gossip Girl. Since then we have seen shade after shade of red accompanied by cat-eye flicks. I recall telling my mom, when I was 16, that this was a "Fashion Reboot" a time to reset things to classic, timeless, elegant eras that I felt we had strayed too far from. We are currently seeing companies such as Melt Cosmetics and Lime Crime bringing in super funky shades of lip color and less glosses are on the shelve compared to a decade ago. Lipstick is here probably in the fullest force we have seen it in since the 1950's and 60's. But if you don't wear it now thankfully people don't automatically assume you are mentally ill. We have thankfully broadened our view on what defines people in the last 50+ years and even more since the time of Queen Elizabeth.

I know I wasn't the first to be thrilled about the comeback of the red lip
and I hope it's here for a while as I think it may just be a signature of mine that I don't think I could let go of. 
Thank you to all the fabulous ladies who fought for all of us to be able to wear what we want on our lips, demanding it wasn't a symbol of being loose but a symbol of being powerful. Powerful enough to make history without a king, powerful enough to say I am part of the work force and I look good (Rosie the Riveter), powerful enough for it to say anything I want it to about me, because lipstick doesn't say anything about me, the mouth it sits on however does. 

I hope this was a fun  little historical trip down Lipstick Lane.
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xoxo, Amanda

"Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. 
That, or a kick ass red lipstick." - Gwyneth Paltrow