“From murder, to prostitution, to witchcraft accusations, the history of red lipstick has a sexy past that’s 5,000 years deep.” Red lipstick was been used over the centuries to enhance women’s (and sometimes men’s lips).
It has been seen as a sign of status, a sign of rebellion, a sign of hope, as having magical powers or as a sign of Satan’s work. At one time men could even get their marriage annulled if they were “tricked” by the bride wearing lipstick! Really guys?
A Brief History of Lipstick
The first lipstick was created out of crushed gemstones and white lead (not such a great idea and would later be the cause of death of Queen Elizabeth I of England). Ancient Sumerian men and women both used the paste as a sign of status. One of the most famous women in history and said to be the Mother of Beauty, Cleopatra made lipstick out of flowers, red ocher, fish scales, crushed ants and carmine in a beeswax base.
The church would later get involved in the lives of women by banning the use of cosmetics. It was said to be a sign of the devil. Of course, women were allowed to wear it if they were married and it made their husbands happier or they were disfigured. Ah the muddling of men in women’s affairs……
Flash forward to the 1900s where Elizabeth Arden got her start in makeup in 1912 by passing out red lipsticks to Suffragettes. In 1915 we will see the first tube lipstick and by the 30s it is considered to be “the most important cosmetic for women” according to Vogue. In the 1940’s it was used by the ladies to show hope and feel womanly during the war.
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Our #WomanCrushWednesday this week is actress and inventor #HedyLamarr! She was often called "the Most Beautiful Woman in Films" & celebrates her birthday on November 9th. Use Bésame's American Beauty, Cake Mascara & Crimson Cream Rouge to get her look here! #MakeupWithHistory
The Power of Lipstick
Although there have been periods in time where not wearing any lipstick also made a statement, in most cases lipstick is a staple in the beauty bag of most women. Even during an economic recession, lipstick sales will be high. This is known as the “lipstick effect.”
So ladies, no matter what you decide, lipstick, no lipstick, bold or subtle, the choice has always been yours—no matter what anyone else says.
I found this one story about women from war-torn Bosnia who were asked what could Women for Women International UK, an organization that aids women in countries affected by war and conflict, bring to the women on their next trip? Their answer: Lipstick. Not clothing, not vitamins—a tube of rouge. “It’s the simplest thing that each woman can put on every single day, and we feel beautiful, and that’s how I’m resisting the war. I want that sniper to know that he is killing a beautiful woman.” I can’t even imagine, as I am sure most of you can’t.
I know when my Mom went to Russia (still a source of contention as I always wanted to go in the 80s/90s before the collapse of the USSR and she thought I was crazy, then she went after I left home!), they were told to bring makeup, that the ladies in Russia loved it.
I have found the history of lipstick, particularly reds, to be so interesting. I don’t know, I guess it is because of how I feel when I wear it or when I see other ladies rockin’ powerful lips.
What lipstick, especially red lipstick, can do for you:
“Red adds a bounce to my step, some steel to my backbone. In it, I feel oddly invincible” – Sali Hughes
“Lipstick has the power to give women confidence and hope all over the world. It’s what I call the psychology of makeup: When you look good, you feel good, and when you’re at your most confident, you can unlock your power on the world around you,” says Charlotte Tilbury, founder of Hot Lips.
“Heels and red lipstick will put the fear of God into people!” – Dita Von Teese
“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack. Wearing a bold red can give a feeling of power, making one feel like a different version of themselves.” – Coco Chanel
“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor
My Favorite Reds from Besame Cosmetics
I am a person that loves bold lips. I do own a soft Dusty Rose and enjoy the new Starfish Kiss, both from Besame Cosmetics of course. However, I LOVE strong, bold lips. It is so hard to pick my favorite as I love several of them. It really depends on my mood which one I wear.
Some of my favorite colors from Besame are:
- American Beauty
- Red Hot Red (This is a true replica of a color from 1959. Marilyn Monroe’s favorite shade. A fire engine red from 1959 that the blonde bombshell favored above all other reds. This shade looks lovely on all skin tones, particularly those with yellow undertones.)
- Red Velvet
- Victory Red
- For a vampish look, Noir
- For a bit of a softer red, I am really loving the Water Lilly Blossom
- And all though not a true red, the Wild Orchid is probably the color I wear the most for “everyday.” I am on my second tube. I literally used a lip brush to use every last bit from the tube!
Not sure what red is perfect for you? Come see me at the shop and experience the many shades of red from Besame Cosmetics. Besame is the Queen of true vintage lipsticks. And don’t worry for those of you that like a more subtle lip, I have a few shades for you too!
Articles about red lipstick: