Lipstick 101



Scholars found the earliest form of lipstick from Mesopotamia. The women used iron oxide, red clay, seaweed, henna, bromine mannite and iodine. During Cleopatra VII’s reign, she used carmine, beeswax and crushed ants. It wasn’t until Abu al-Quasim al-Zahwari created a wax-based pigment that the first lipstick as we know it today was made. Queen Elizabeth I also used lipstick made from dried flowers and beeswax.

Lipstick gained reputation for a while as a tool only used by prostitutes. There was even a time when women who applied lipstick were labeled as witches in the United States. When the need for makeup in the film industry became apparent however, the perception changed. The first lip gloss was also marketed in the 1930s.


Today, you don’t need to worry about being persecuted for wearing lipstick.



All lipsticks contain pigment or dye, wax, oils, fats, emollients, and preservatives. The type of wax and oil will vary among different brands. Some lipsticks also contain other compounds like fragrances and even capsaicin to plump up lips. Most lipsticks use animals products. Red lipstick for example uses crushed cochineal bugs. Such an idea will seem repulsive to some after reading about it, but there are organic lipsticks available in the market.


Some lipsticks contain heavy metal like arsenic, chromium, mercury and others, so be careful when you’re choosing a product. These chemical are not regulated in most countries including Singapore.


There is also a risk of allergic reactions to some ingredients in the lipstick. If you have sensitive skin, pick hypoallergenic products.


Lipsticks can be classified in two ways, form and finish.


The form of lipstick is determined by how it is packed. It can be any of the following:

  1. Solid lipsticks are wax-based. These are rolled and pressed into molds. They also come in different shapes.
  2. Lipstick pencils are designed for more precise control, shaping, filling and lining.
  3. Lipstick cream is easy to apply and has a matte finish.
  4. Liquid lipstick is easier to apply because you only need to coat once. It stays for hours but it can dry your lips.


There are also other lip cosmetics like lip balm to keep lips moisturized, liner to outline the lips, plumpers that increase blood flow to the lips, and stain or tint that are not glossy.


The finish refers to the appearance of the lipstick when applied. The following are the types of finishes:

  1. Matte or velvet gives a flat, non-shiny look.
  2. Pearl and frosted lipsticks are perfect for creating sparkly lips.
  3. Creme or cream matte have more wax. It adds protection to the lips but you will also need lip gloss.
  4. Gloss or liquid lipsticks make your lips shiny. They can be used with other lipsticks.
  5. Long-wearing is ideal for those who don’t want to keep reapplying lipstick.
  6. Satin or sheer have a lot of oil content for that shiny, semi-opaque look.
  7. Moisturizing lipsticks keep your lips soft and shiny. They also contain glycerin, vitamin E and aloe.

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