Why are we so obsessed with red lips?
Since the very beginnings of human civilisation
we have always used some kind of substance to enhance of lips, it started with plants, berries
and minerals, but the egyptians took it to the next level and made huge advancements in the
manufacturing of lip colour. Utilising dyes from seaweed, iodine and bromine mannite. These
early formulas were definitely not good for ones health…eeek! The egyptians were also the first
to use carmine (which is still used today), which is essentially crushed beetles. I, for one, use
only carmine/cruelty-free lipstick, so no dead beetles on my lips, thanks Cleopatra!
It wasn’t until the 16th century that red lips became a widespread trend, as Queen Elizabeth I,
invented the dark lip, which was achieved using a mix of beeswax and plant dye.
The popularity of red lips all changed when Queen Victoria reigned, as she deemed it unladylike
and a look that was reserved for prostitutes. The French saw it the other way around – Red lips
were a sign of aristocracy and wealth, while prostitutes and the women of the lower classes
were red lip free…poor ladies! Thankfully the french were on to something and the first version
of a modern lipstick went on sale in Paris by perfumers in 1884.
During the Golden Age, silent film gave rise to the popularity of lipstick again, but during this
era it was about blacks and deeper shades and thankfully the now standard push-up tube was
invented, but it wasn’t until the 40’s that it became twistable. The film industry of the 40’s also
propelled red lips in particular, perhaps because they they looked best on screen.
I guess this is all it takes for a trend to really take off and when we look at it this way, there is
no deep meaning as to why we love red lips. Although I suspect there’s more to it than that.
Humans love to adorn themselves and making our lips more attractive is a powerful thing,
biologically and sexually and in a time where we are bombarded by sexually loaded imagery
non-stop, it’s nice to know that the humble red lipstick has a long and interesting history, albeit
not an entirely healthy one.
The symbolism of red has links to both fire and blood and it’s obvious that early humans were
fascinated and influenced by this colour. In different cultures and religions red symbolises such
things are purity, heroism, courage, fertility and even connotations of murder and theft. But why
do we wear red lipstick? It’s certainly not anything to do with the Buddhist’s views of purity. We
wear red lipstick because it represents danger, excitement, passion, beauty, risk, celebration
and sexuality. It’s fun, assertive and powerful and at the same time completely classic. What’s
not to like about red lipstick? It’s absolutely perfect!
Red hot lips ooze glamour and there is no other makeup product that can make you look as
polished as a well done red lip. Thankfully now we can chose to purchase beautiful red lipsticks
that are made with all natural ingredients and with huge technological advancements, we no
longer need to test anything on animals. In my photography and styling business, as well as
for myself, I always use 100% vegan and cruelty-free products. In the past such vibrant shades
were almost impossible to find, but now more than ever there is no need to sacrifice style for
your conscience. A few of my favourites include: Shanghai Suzy’s Tegan Cherry Red, HARLOT- Neon popsicle red LIP TAR from
OCC, Bossy Lady and Mother Pucker by Lippy Girl and the Velvetines by Lime Crime.