The Reign of Red

“I came out of the womb waving red lipstick”- Rose McGowan

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Much like the little black dress, a fierce kiss of red lipstick has won over the hearts of many, making it a beauty bag essential. From formal events to a night on the tiles with the girls, the quest for the perfect crimson pout is an ongoing journey, giving the lipstick shade a history that spans across decades of glamour. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with red lipstick. I love it on other people, but hate it on me, and I put that down to never being able to find the right shade to suit my skin tone. But looking over the history of our favourite red friend, it seems many other women fell head over heels in love with it.

Rewinding back to the 19th century, red lipstick was worn by the rich as a way of warning off death. A pale skin tone and red lips connoted health and well-being, and a flush of colour was seen as highly desirable. Queen Elizabeth the 1st, a woman of who marked many milestones in history, was one of the first to bring this beauty trend to the scene, wearing a home made mix of beeswax and plants. But her influence did not stand the test of time, as Queen Victoria soon pronounced makeup to be impolite in the late 1800s and it became very unfashionable during her reign. Red lipstick fell to the very bottom of the beauty bag during this time and it was deemed a taboo to be seen wearing a scarlet shade. Those who did were immediately shunned to the peripherals of society and deemed a prostitute.

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“If I’m feeling down in the dumps, or like I need a pop of colour, I’ll put on MAC’s Lipstick in Lady Danger. I discovered red lipstick when I did the Oscar season: Chanel sent me one and I realised how classic and glamorous it can be” – Chloe Sevigny

We can thank Maurice Levy and the 1900s for bringing back the popularity of red lipstick. Inventing the first lipstick applicator, Levy introduced a whole new sense of glamour to the cosmetic product. With the ease of manufacturing, low prices, the rise of photography and the endorsement of many famous film actresses, by 1923, the modern swivel lipstick tube was patented and companies like Chanel, Elizabeth Arden and Max Factor started to stacking their beauty counters with the new favourite product to feed the demand. Red lipstick had arrived, and this time, it was here to stay.

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Today, lipsticks are one of the most easy ways to dramatically change our appearance. Not only does the iconic shade connote glamour, class, sophistication and the lure of femininity, but it oozes quiet confidence. They are one of the most widely bought and distributed makeup products, with the United States cosmetics industry alone presenting a $32.7 billion global market with red lipstick earning $9.4 billion in 2000. So ladies and gentlemen, please stand up and give a round of applause for Red lipstick which has stood the test of time and is still a girls best friend.

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