beauty background – Brief Lip Story

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Ever since the womenfolk of early civilisations worked out how good a pair of stained lips could look, lipstick has existed in one form or another.

In Ancient Greece, only prostitutes wore it, but in Ancient Rome, it was a sign of status, even for men. At the turn of the 20th century, lip colour was seen as something only fit for actors and ‘fast’ women. However  once Max Factor began creating lipstick in the 1920s and the Flapper girls, the it-girls of the era, got hold of it, there was no holding back its popularity.

Lipstick might seem the ultimate frivolity, but it’s also an exceptional morale-booster, something that any woman who wears it will understand. That must be why lipstick sales remained strong through the Great  Depression of the 1930s and during the Second World War, lipstick became symbolic of defiance in the face of hardship and cosmetics companies produced patriotic bright lipsticks such as Helena Rubinstein’s Regimental Red and Elizabeth Arden’s Victory Red. It’s war-paint. It cheers you up. It makes you feel altogether bolder and it lights up your face in an instant.

Strong red lips became an essential look for generations of Hollywood goddesses from Clara Bow, in the 1920s via Rita Hayworth to Marilyn Monroe (who blended three shades to achieve her trademark red), and Elizabeth Taylor, and where they led, millions of women across the world followed. Its sales hold up during modern recessions, too – and modern celebrities know its power. Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift and Dita Von Teese are rarely sighted without scorching red lips, while Angelina Jolie, and Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez fly the flag for nude lipstick.

We can’t get enough of the stuff; the latest Colour Cosmetics report from Mintel found that sales of lipstick in the UK reached £137 million last year, up from £126 million in 2012, while estimates that 5.8 million women in the UK use lipstick or lipgloss more than once a day. Somewhere in the world, MAC sells a lipstick every two seconds.


Text/Photos: Heathrow Lipstick Colours Of The Year Report


Sean Mitchell

Author at Pynck

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