7 Jan

by Mistress Curvalicious

Early in January 2009, I heard on the news that sales of lipsticks (and chocolate ~ and there are no wonders there!) are up.  I wondered, could this be because Lipstick inspires confidence and comfort?  Giving us women that certain something, to use as a crutch, especially during this economic downturn.  


1.  It’s Inexpensive. 
2.  It’s Fun. 
3.  It’s an easy way to express yourself:  your style, your mood. 
4.  It’s mobile.  So small and compact, the tube fits easily into the smallest of handbags or purses or even coat pockets. 
5.  It’s variation.  Coming in many, many colours and look (lipsticks that are shiny and matt, pearl and sparkly, lipglosses that give a wet appearance). 
6.  It’s quick!  Stroke colour on the lips for an instant pick~me~up. 
7.  It’s easily available.  Making a good stocking filler or small gift. 
8.  It’s interesting.  Got a spare 10 minutes?  Why not sample different brands at the cosmetics counter, even if you’re not buying. 
9.  It’s green.  Er, not exactly green, but they’re re~cycable!  Don’t like the colour you just bought?  Why not swap  lipsticks with a friend?  Just clean the top off with a tissue for hygiene reasons. 
10. It’s trendy.  Spot the latest colours on your fave celebs and copy their look.  

Although saying all those positive things, on the downside, buying lipstick can become addictive!  I am thinking of my make up bags and small wicker baskets filled with tubes and pots of the sexy smeary stuff 😉   


Lipstick is about 5000 years old, and throughout time has been made with a variety of ingredients such as crushed gems, natural dyes, crushed carmine beetles and beeswax. 


The Roaring Twenty’s and Hollywood with its glamouress actresses ~  such as It Girl Clara Bow with her Bow shaped lips ~ influenced the trend of ordinary women wearing make up, especially lipstick.  They actually wore black lipstick so the make up could stand out in the early black and white films. 

Clara Bow, The It Girl with the bow lips

Clara Bow, The It Girl with the bow lips

Coco Chanel “… regarded the lips as the primary weapons of seduction and insisted on painting them a deep vermillion. As far back as 1921 she made her first stick of colour, protected in wax paper, the precursor of the lipstick as we know it today.”  (Linda Grant ~ web link below). 

The suffragette movement was rife and red was The colour of lipstick in the ’20’s due to the colour’s associated meaning of feminine empowerment.  In 1920 the former make up artist to the Royal Ballet in Czarist, Russia, Max Factor, invented a make up range for the general public.  He was popular with the film industry from as early as 1914.  It was during the 1930’s, another period of reccession, that lipstick became the most prominent of all make up.  Each year during that decade there was a new colour trend.  Ladies loved their lipstick! 


In researching for this article I found something quite interesting:  the sales of lipstick peaked in the 30’s, which was also a period of financial hardship. 


’20’s ~ vibrant red. 
’30’s ~ light pink, dark lilac, bright red
’40’s ~ scarlet
’50’s ~ bright red
’60’s ~ pale colours
’70’s ~ pale lipglosses
’80’s ~ strong colours
’90’s ~ earthy & natural, transparent lipglosses
’00’s ~ pale pink & red   


Barry M. especially No. 54, a pale orange.  This is a thick matt lip paint giving good coverage; sometimes I combine with a lipgloss (just a stroke of lipgloss over the top) for that wet shiny look.  I love the lipsglosses from Dior (Addict). 


Lipstick by Jessica Pallington (Simon & Schuster, 2000)
Provides practical tips on how to buy and apply lipstick, what your lipstick shape says about you, what exactly it is made of, how to make your own, how companies name lipsticks, and other tricks of the trade.  

Read My Lips: A cultural history of lipstick by Meg Cohen Ragas and Karen Kozlowski (Chronicle Books, 1998)
An account of lipstick’s many traces.


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