“Whoa, you’re…..um, wow…that’s a red lipstick,” said my snarky co-worker to me one morning passing in the hallway. I laughed it off at the time, and I’ve been thinking about lipstick a lot since then. I’ve looked around my office and to my astonishment hardly anyone wears lipstick at my office, which has a lot of women.
What’s up with that? I love, love, love lipstick. After Bonnie Bell came out with the Lip Smacker in 1973 and I was introduced to it, my lips were in strawberry, glossy heaven. The Coca-Cola flavor gave me the first realization that I needed a job to be able to afford the beautification that would be coming my way. Popping the cap, inhaling the scent, and rubbing the soft goodness over my lips is as common to me as walking. I instinctively know when it’s time to reapply and can do so perfectly without a mirror. I carry four colors with me at all times and get a little giddy when I cozy up to the counters to choose a new color.
Cleopatra was the first to popularize red lips, using crushed carmine beetles and fish scales for shimmering effect. In the late 16th century, the Christian church banned lip coloring, and only the lowest classes of people, such as prostitutes, were seen wearing it. Then came the white faced Queen Elizabeth I sporting the bright red lips, and so only high class women were now fashionable. By the 18th century, mid and low classes were in on the trend, and by 1900, lipstick was an important part of the American women’s daily and public attire.
Here’s a shout out to French cosmetic company Guerlain for producing the first commercial lipstick product, to Maurice Levy for inventing the cylinder metal container, to James Bruce Mason, Jr. for the swivel-up tube (no more brushes, easy to apply), to Max Factor for inventing lip gloss lipstick (love me a little shine), and to chemist Hazel Bishop for creating the first long lasting and non-smearing lipstick.
“Damn right it’s red! I love it,” my parting words to the naked-less lips of that co-worker.