Happy National Lipstick Day! 16 Weird And Wonderful Facts About The Humble Lippie

It’s National Lipstick Day (July 29) here in the UK so there’s no better time to splurge on that lippie that’s been on your wishlist for the past six months.

Here at Yahoo Lifestyle, the team are lippie addicts and we’ve amassed quite the collection of our faves – from NARS, MAC, Illamasqua and everything in between.

But did you know that the humble lipstick was once nearly BANNED from UK shores? Or that fish scales, petroleum and crushed beetles have formed some of the weirder ingredients to make their way into the tubes? Neither did we…

1 In 1770, a British law nearly passed through parliament that allowed a man to annul his marriage if his wife wore lipstick prior to their wedding day. The law stated that ‘women found guilty of seducing men into matrimony by a cosmetic means could be tried for witchcraft’.  (Pop Goes The Culture)

2 The government had tried to do it before though – in 1650. ‘The vice of painting’ AKA applying lipstick was nearly banned in England – but didn’t pass. It was also nearly banned in Kansas, USA in 1915, where a bill was introduced that would have made it a crime for women under 44 to wear lipstick as it ‘created a false impression’. (HuffPo)


3 But one person who was definitely pro-lippie was former UK Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Cosmetics were rationed during WW2 but lipstick was kept in production because it ‘boosted morale’. No surprise that lippie sales soared during the war, then. (Susan Elia Macneal)

4 Lipstick was first invented 5,000 years ago by the ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq) who used to crush gemstones to make lippie. Those on a tighter budget would combine clay, rust, henna, seaweed and toxic ingredients such as iodine to make their lipsticks. (Beauty Review)

5 Cleopatra went for slightly more luxurious ingredients, using ants as the base and crushing carmine beetles for the red pigment. Delicious. (OMG Facts)

6 In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I made the look more fashionable by offsetting her powdered face with red lippie made from beeswax. Although a couple of centuries later, Queen Victoria famously said it was ‘impolite’ to wear make-up. (Mental Floss)

Queen Elizabeth I with her beeswax lipstick [Getty]
Queen Elizabeth I with her beeswax lipstick [Getty]

7 To create the pearlescent sheen in lipsticks, manufacturers used fish scales, and petroleum is still used as a moisturiser in lipsticks. (What’s That Stuff?)

8 Lipstick was associated with prostitutes in Ancient Greece, as most women didn’t wear make-up at all. The women that did wear lipstick used ingredients such as sheep sweat, human saliva and crocodile excrement. (Harvard)

9 It was once used to implicate social status for both genders. In the Roman Empire, men and women used lip colour to show people their rank in society. (Harvard)

10 The movie industry fuelled the popularity of lipstick in the 1940s with actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor sporting deep red shades in films and in real life. The star was said to be so enamoured with her lipstick that she refused to let anyone else wear it on set. (The Venue Rules)

11 George Washington was also said to be a fan of lipstick. As in the US President. (The Gloss)

12 Make-up maestro Elizabeth Arden used to paint her signature pink lipstick onto her horses’ mouths. Her obituary did read that she ‘treated women like horses and horses like women.’ (Biography)

13 Her Majesty The Queen had her own special shade of lipstick made for her coronation – it’s called The Balmoral Lipstick. These days, she likes to touch up her lippie on the go, as she did at the Commonwealth Games. (The Gloss)

14 A 2007 study found that 60 per cent of lipsticks contained traces of lead. One third of these lipsticks had more lead in them than the 0.1ppm set for use in sweets. (NY Times) There’s also a list of the lipsticks that were tested. (FDA)

15 The lipstick effect is a real thing. It was coined after 9/11, when lipstick sales increased afterwards, and is based on the theory that when consumers are faced with an economic crisis, they’ll buy more cheap luxury goods – such as expensive lipsticks. (NY Times)

16. Lipstick is the most shoplifted item – and sales of lipstick also increase on rainy days. (Lip Source)

Tell us your weird and wonderful lipstick facts in the comments, below.



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