12 Weird But True Facts About Lipstick

12 Weird But True Facts About Lipstick
Frederik Lindstrom for Intermission Magazine

Women (and men!) have been wearing lipstick for thousands of years. Luckily, this makeup bag staple has evolved a lot since ancient times. In honor of National Lipstick Day, we pulled together a list of the most mind-blowing, unbelievable facts about lipstick—keep reading to see them all!

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    PHOTO: Frederique Veysset

    1. Big Spenders:

    The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime—and of that amount, $1,780 goes toward lipstick.

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    PHOTO: Vintage Ad

    2. Lipstick That Won’t Kiss and Tell:

    You owe your smudge-proof pout to a chemist named Hazel Bishop, who developed a formula for long-lasting lipstick while working in a dermatologist’s lab after WWII.


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    3. The Golden Ticket:

    One of the most expensive lipsticks in the world is Guerlain’s KissKiss Gold and Diamonds Lipstick, which will set you back $62,000. While their original KissKiss lipstick costs only $34, what you’re really paying for here is the bling. The tube is made from 110 grams of 18k gold and encrusted with 199 diamonds to really help you sparkle. Bonus: You get your pick of 15 exclusive shades, and it’s refillable (at that price, we really would expect nothing less).

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    PHOTO: Pinterest

    4. Lipstick Liberation:

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and other early feminists painted their lips as a symbol of emancipation when they marched in the 1912 NYC Suffragette rally.


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    5. Status Symbol:

    Both men and women in Ancient Egypt wore lipstick as a symbol of their status. They applied it almost daily with wet sticks of wood, and favored colors such as magenta, blue-black, and orange (so S/S 14)—though red was also a popular shade.

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    6. It Was Used As a Calling Card:

    In Ancient Greece, lipstick fell out of fashion among high-class citizens, and was instead used to identify prostitutes. In fact, it was the law that prostitutes couldn’t go out without wearing lipstick, lest they “deceive” men.  

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    PHOTO: Backstage at Miu Miu at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2008

    7. When In Rome:

    If you were a wealthy woman in Ancient Rome, chances are you had your own professional team of hairstylists and makeup artists, called cosmatae, to apply your lipstick every day. But, unfortunately, many early iterations of lipstick contained toxic ingredients like white lead, fucus, and vermillion.


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    PHOTO: Bob Willoughby

    8. Banned From Set:

    “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together,” Elizabeth Taylor famously said. Unless, of course, you were a woman on one of her movie sets—the actress allegedly demanded that no one else could wear red lipstick on set.

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    PHOTO: Vintage Illustration

    9. It’s A Morale-Booster:

    While all other cosmetics were rationed in Great Britain during WWII, lipstick was kept in production because Winston Churchill felt it boosted morale.

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    PHOTO: Pinterest

    10. Ingredients Have Come A Long Way:

    Aside from the toxic ingredients we mentioned earlier, animal fat, sheep sweat, and ox marrow were also often used to make lip rouge. An ingredient that has stayed the same through the years? Fish scales, which are still used in lipsticks today to boost shine. 

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    PHOTO: Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue Russia

    11. Staring Contest:

    According to a study conducted by the University of Manchester, men look at women with lipstick on longer than women with bare lips. They were most entranced by red lipstick, staring at it for an average of 7.3 seconds, while their gaze lingered on women with pink lipstick for an average of 6.7 seconds. They only glanced at women with bare lips for an average of 2.2 seconds.

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    12. A Magic Cure:

    We all know that swiping on some lipstick can be a huge confidence booster and mood transformer, but in England in the 1500s, people believed that lipstick actually had magical powers. Queen Elizabeth was reportedly a huge believer in the healing powers of lipstick, and was said to have had half an inch of lipstick on at the time of her death.

    Sources: Mint.com, Los Angeles Times, Harvard Law, Huffington Post

    Have you heard any of these surprising lipstick facts? And don’t miss out on these crazy facts about perfume!

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