Lipstick is the sexiest cosmetic product and an indispensable attribute of any women’s handbag.

Since its invention, lipstick has become a true friend of most women, despite the numerous shortcomings of its early samples, which were easily broken, unstable and quickly deteriorated. Today lipstick has got rid of these negative features and appeared before its admirers in a variety of colors and textures.

The first color movie of the 1930s is one possible reason why bright red lipstick has become one of the universally recognized attributes of female attractiveness. Until that time, for several centuries it was believed that only women of easy virtue and actresses used it. In early color cinema, lips looked artificially red, but despite this, Hollywood films, as now, created the standards that everyone aspired to. The easiest way to look like an actress was to paint her lips with red lipstick. So there was a demand for a product that began to be produced twenty years earlier. Well, in our time, lipstick continues to be very popular.

In ancient times, women also used various means that enhance the natural color of the lips. Perhaps for the first time, the Egyptians took up this, resorting to the help of henna. An alternative was the purple-red pigment fucus, extracted from vegetable raw materials. Some women even used cinnabar, a bright red paint that was used in painting (including rock art as far back as 20,000 years ago). But since cinnabar is a poisonous oxide of mercury, its use as a lipstick was far from safe.

The first solid lipsticks to slide out of a case were released in the United States in 1915 by Maurice Levy. The red color was given to them by the carmine contained in them. This dye is obtained from cochineal produced by the small insect Dactylopus coccus, which lives on a species of Mexican cactus. (Only female insects synthesize the substance.) The problem with that first lipstick was that it was unstable, in other words, it left stains on everything it came into contact with. Revealing marks were imprinted on glasses, cheeks, cigarettes and collars. The solution to this problem was a lipstick that could only redden the skin, this lipstick appeared in 1925 and was subsequently popular with several generations of women until their daughters abandoned the bright red color of the lips, this happened in mid sixties.

The requirements for an ideal lipstick are technically quite difficult to fulfill. Firstly, it is necessary to achieve a certain color and effect: dullness, gloss, gloss, mother-of-pearl. Secondly, lipstick should go on evenly, not be greasy, have a neutral taste, not lose its properties over time, and, of course, be durable. In addition, the substance of the lipstick should be easy to apply to the lips, regardless of the air temperature, the lipstick rod should retain its shape and be durable, it should not be affected by air humidity or bacteria living on the lips. And lastly, lipstick should not contain substances that could be harmful to health. The requirements are quite strict, and it is not always possible to fulfill them all at once.


Lips are a rather vulnerable part of the human body. The horny layer of the skin on them is very thin, the content of adipose tissue is small, which is why the lips dry quickly. Licking normally restores moisture to the lips, but in extreme climates, even licking can’t get rid of the unpleasant feeling of dryness. In such a situation, the best protection for the lips will be the fats produced by plants, animals and chemical companies.

Protective lip balms typically contain ingredients such as plant-derived castor oil, lanolin found in sheep’s wool, jelly-like petroleum distillates (such as petroleum jelly), and silicone, a product of the chemical industry.

Source: based on the book by John Emsley «On the benefits and harms of the products we love to buy»

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