Throughout history, lipstick has been made from a wide variety of ingredients and spanned the full range of fashion: from ‘not-dressed-without-it’ to scandalous and back.
The use of lipstick possibly dates back to Ancient Mesopotamia, when women decorated their lips with crushed semi-precious jewels. In Egypt, Cleopatra’s lipstick included red carmine as the coloring and crushed ants as the base. Shimmering pearlescent effects were made by adding fish scales. Indeed, lipsticks were important enough in that culture that wealthy Egyptians were entombed with pots of crimson handy to ensure that they would enter the afterlife looking their best.
During Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 16th century England, a pale face and red lips were considered the height of women’s fashion. But in 1770, Parliament passed a law stating that a woman wearing lipstick prior to her marriage was grounds for an annulment. By the mid 1800’s, lipstick was thought to be bad for a woman’s health, and considering that the usual colorants contained lead or mercury, the warning had some basis in truth.
Lipstick caught on in France by the end of the 1800’s, but it only became fashionable in England and America in the next century as actresses in black-and-white movies used it to give their faces a greater degree of contrast on film. Used sparingly in the 1940’s due to war shortages, lipstick has since gained widespread popularity with color trends ranging from brilliant crimson to pale peach and from black or dark purple to white.
By necessity, lipsticks are made of ingredients that are not water soluble, such as waxes and oils. These chemical compounds are mixed with antioxidants, emollients, and pigments to produce color. Waxes, such as beeswax or carnauba wax, provide the solid structure of the lipstick, whereas oils such as olive oil, cocoa butter, lanolin, and petrolatum give the creamy texture that allows the mixture to be spread easily over the lips. Antioxidants are an important chemical additive to ensure the oils do not go rancid. Sheer lipsticks contain a higher amount of oil, and long-lasting products contain silicone oil to keep the color on the lips longer.
More information about lipstick may be found at http://www.skincare-news.com/a-8146-All_About_Lipstick_History_and_How-To.aspx