Why lipstick is the best beauty product of them all

Lipstick has existed for centuries and is one of the oldest beauty products to survive up until the modern age. Let’s learn a little about lipstick and discover exactly how it became to be.

For well over 5000 years, people have been smearing lipstick across their mouth using a variety of ingredients. Some of these include seaweed, rust, clay, iodine and henna mixtures as used by the ancient female tribes in Mesopotamia. Once this beauty treatment migrated to Egypt, it quickly picked up speed where queens and female dignitary would combine crushed ants and beeswax with the coloring to not only make their lips shine more, but to add that plumping effect as well (care of the ant venom). Lipstick was so renowned that many royals were buried with pots of it, for that glowing afterlife look.

Lipstick really only made its move into the roll-up-and-down tube format we all know and love in the 1920’s. Today, it’s used by millions the world over and remains as one of the best-selling beauty products of all time.


Of all the components that remain in lipstick from the olden days, oils and wax make up the bulk of what goes into a lipstick tube. There are many other chemicals that have made their way into the lipstick tubes of today like Carnauba wax and Candwlilla, and these are all to create one effect: that of making the lips glossier.

Oils play its part as well, such as castor oil and are used to make the lips softer, which in turn, makes it easier for the lipstick color to be absorbed.

You may be surprised to learn where the coloring of the most famous lipstick color – namely red – comes from. Indeed, it could put some off for life. Carmine Red is derived from the boiled bodies of tiny insects, cochineal bugs. These bugs live on cactus plants, are harvested and then boiled, filtered and turned into that deep beautiful shade of red everyone goes crazy for. Bugs, making lips beautiful. Lipsticks that sell the best are those that have the deepest reds and stay on the longest, so typically the “all-night” brands.

There’s something very interesting to be said for lipstick sales. Namely that if lipstick starts selling like crazy, everyone worries. That’s correct, it’s called the “lipstick effect” and actually began as far back as the 1990’s. When recessions hit (and they seem to be scaling together more frequently these decades), women cut back on all their other luxuries and instead decide to concentrate on lipstick instead. So no fancy creams or trips to the surgeon for a pick-me-up botox injection. Lipstick is cheaper and like getting a haircut, makes you feel better almost instantly. As an advert for lipstick once famously said: on a bad day, there’s always lipstick.


During times of war – such as the various conflicts in Iraq and terrorist attacks – woman don lipstick as a sign of defiance, a mark that no matter what happens, they will continue to live their lives and enjoy the “simple pleasures” of looking beautiful no matter what. In short, lipstick will continue to thrive for many centuries to come.