To draw attention to this expressive, attractive body part, women have resorted to all kinds of potions and powders.
• Cave women attracted their hairy hunters with berry-stained lips.
• Cleopatra used henna and carmine to enhance her pouty pair.
• Poppaea Sabine, wife of Emperor Nero, experimented with ochre, iron and fucus
(a potentially deadly poison, but worth it for the effect).
Elizabeth I has to take a lot of credit for giving lipstick new value and respect. The look was still white skin, but more vibrant colours were in vogue for lips, eyes and cheeks. For most of the 1800s, lipstick was only for actors (and those women referred to as “tarts”). Today most of us simply use a mixture of wax, oil and colour pigments – lipstick. But before lipsticks were stick-shaped they were pots of rouge. The wealthier the woman, the more pots to her name. Thank goodness for the 20th century. Lipstick became a symbol of women’s suffrage – notable feminists marched at rallies wearing painted lips as a badge of liberation. In 1966, Mary Quant launched her line of cosmetics and white lips became the talk of London. In 1973, Bonne Bell introduced flavoured Lip Smackers and long-tressed hippy darlings invited free love with their strawberry flavoured kiss.
It’s a rare woman who ventures from the house without her trusted lippy. But why? It’s in our genes. Women through the ages have coloured their lips in a bid to make the most sensual of facial elements even more attractive. Lipstick has waxed and waned throughout the history of femininity sometimes the mark of the devil, other times the mark of queenliness.