David Creek: Lipstick has come a long way, baby!

February 27, 2010 10:58:00 PM

David Creel -


Did you know the history of "lipstick" began with Cleopatra VII, ancient Egypt''s last pharaoh, who reigned between 51 and 30 B.C. and is perhaps most famous for her romances with Roman hotties Julius Caesar and Mark Antony? With her exotic appetite for the forbidden, Cleopatra used crushed ants and carmine in a pot of beeswax to stain her tempting lips. Now that''s carrying the pursuit of beauty too far even for me! 


Red clay, iron oxide (rust), henna, seaweed, iodine and highly toxic bromine mannite are just a few ingredients traced back to our ancestors and their all-consuming lust for colored lips. And did you know that Abu al-Quasim al-Zahrwai, a Muslim Andalusian known as the father of modern surgery, is the man behind the first stick lipstick, sometime around A.D. 900? He formulated a wax base for the pigment, perfumed it and pressed it into a mold. Considering that crushed ants were the other option, we owe Abu a big thank you. 


And FYI, although lipstick was popular with women during the Middle Ages, its allure and awesome appeal went stale among the upper class until it was considered fit only for prostitutes and lower-class jezebels. Aren''t we all glad that Guinevere''s time has come and gone? 




Royal influence 


Praise Queen Elizabeth I, who modeled a very pale face powder punctuated with the brightest of red lips, for bringing lipstick back into fashion in Europe during the Elizabethan era of the mid-1500s. Crushed, dried flowers such as roses and geraniums mixed with beeswax created her lipstick concoctions. All hail the queen!  


Of course, lipstick went back out of fashion less than 200 years later, when in 1770 the British Parliament passed a law essentially saying that all made-up women were witches who attempted to seduce men into marriage and were burned at the stake. Needless to say, the attitude that makeup of any kind was a form of deception prevailed and lipstick was outlawed. That was not a pretty period of history, in more ways than one. 


During Queen Victoria''s reign into the early 1900s, ladies who wanted to color their lips were left to their own devices, resorting to rubbing them against dyed crepe paper or ribbons while the more brazen gals sneaked lipsticks purchased from France or elsewhere.  


In the late 1890s, American women got their way. For the first time, the Sears Roebuck catalog advertised rouge for lips and cheeks. Also, during the rise of the film industry, lipstick was marketed to actresses who stole the spotlight with deep, dark lips that screamed melodramatic on black-and-white films. By 1915, the au currant little tube of lipstick was known all over the world. 


Modern cosmetic giants began selling lipsticks in their salons. Department stores joined in, and well, the rest is history. So, girls, be sure to blow a kiss to Cleo and Liz, Marilyn and Greta for paving the way for you to pull out your favorite lipstick and smear on a few coats of beautiful! 


Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at [email protected]