Lipstick is a cosmetic product containing pigments, oils, waxes, and emollients that applies color and texture to the lips. There are many varieties of lipstick.


Lipstick is known to have been used around 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, when semi-precious jewels were crushed and applied to the lips and occasionally around the eyes. Women in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization applied lipstick to their lips for face decoration. [Yona Williams. [ Ancient Indus Valley: Food, Clothing & Transportation] .] Ancient Egyptians extracted purplish-red dye from fucus-algin, 0.01% iodine, and some bromine mannite, which resulted in serious illness. Cleopatra had her lipstick made from crushed carmine beetles, which gave a deep red pigment, and ants for a base. Lipsticks with shimmering effects were initially made using a substance found in fish scales called pearlescence. [Chemical and Engineering News: [ What's That Stuff? -- Lipstick] ]

During the Islamic Golden Age the notable Arab Andalusian cosmetologist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) invented solid lipsticks, which were perfumed stocks rolled and pressed in special molds, and he described them in his "Al-Tasrif".cite web|title=Muslim Contribution to Cosmetics|url=|publisher=FSTC Limited|date=2003-05-20|accessdate=2008-01-29] Lipstick started to gain popularity in England the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who made piercing red lips and bright white faces a fashion statement. By that time, lipstick was made from a blend of beeswax and red stains from plants.

During the Second World War, lipstick gained popularity as a result of its use in the movie industry, and it became commonplace for women to apply makeup, or "put their face on".

Max Factor, a very well known and respected cosmetics company, created one of the first stage blood products for use in theater and film. The formula is similar to lipstick, except it lacks bees wax and therefore has a viscosity similar to human blood.

As with most other types of makeup, lipstick is typically, but not exclusively, worn by women. It is usually not worn until a female reaches adolescence or adulthood. Male lipstick, especially as used in theater, is sometimes called "manstick".

Another form of lip color, a wax-free semi-permanent liquid formula, was invented in the 1990s by the Lip-Ink International company. Other companies imitated the idea, putting out their own versions of long-lasting "lip stain" or "liquid lip color", but were not allowed to infringe on the patented wax-free formula.

A study by US consumer group "Campaign For Safe Cosmetics", in October 2007 found 60 percent of lipsticks tested contained traceable amounts of lead. [My Product Alert: [ Extensive Report on Lead in Lipsticks] ] The levels of lead varied from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million. One third of the lipsticks containing lead exceeded the 0.1ppm limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for lead in candy. [US FDA: [ Document on Lead in Candy] ]

In popular culture

Lipstick has been used in some media to symbolize confidence, such as the film, Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy and the television show Lipstick Jungle.


*"Lippy" is a common British colloquialism for lipstick. [ [] Lip-Ink International]
*A "lipstick lesbian" is a gay or bisexual woman who exhibits feminine gender attributes. The alliterative term is thought to have come into common usage during the 1980s in order to distinguish between lesbians who adhere to more conventional gender roles and those who do not. In some contexts, it has pejorative connotations.
*The phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" is a colloquialism that means, "making the unattractive superficially attractive," with overtones of futility or of a lost cause. [ [ Is Motorola putting lipstick on a pig? | Tech news blog - CNET ] ]
*The phrase "lipstick on his collar" is a euphemism used to describe a man who is cheating on his partner.

In politics, the phrase was used by American politician John McCain during the 2008 campaign for the Presidency of the United States. McCain referred to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's health care proposal as nothing more than "lipstick on a pig."Fact|date=September 2008 More recently, Democratic candidate Barack Obama referred to the republican party's recent embrace of "change" as nothing more than "lipstick on a pig."Fact|date=September 2008

See also

*Lip gloss
*Research: Merskin, eryrfedDebra (2007). Truly toffee and raisin hell: A textual analysis of lipstick names. Sex Roles 56(9-10), 591-600.
*Lipstick on a pig


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