Read Our Lips: A Quick History of Lipstick for Those Considering Makeup Artist School

From ancient Mesopotamia to modern times, red lips remain an iconic beauty statement

From ancient Mesopotamia to modern times, red lips remain an iconic beauty statement

Makeup has an incredible power to reinvent and transform; to tell a story and invoke emotion. From theatre to high fashion to special effects to everyday wear—the use of makeup is truly embedded in our history and modern day culture. While it’s true that cosmetic products and trends come and go, certain components of the modern makeup kit have been around for centuries. Lipstick—or lip colour—is one of these enduring must-haves. The fascination with lip painting goes way, way back. Here’s a quick history of lipstick for those who live and breathe the wonderful (and sometimes wacky!) world of make-up artistry.

Beeswax, Crushed Bugs, and a Dash of…Rust?

Early experimenters with lip colour were so determined to achieve a lustrous red shade, they concocted recipes out of some very unlikely, even dangerous ingredients. Take Cleopatra VII for example. She found the perfect red by crushing up cochineal insects (who produce a red pigment called carmine) and mixing them with beeswax. This was relatively harmless, although perhaps not very tasty. Ancient Mesopotamian women, on the other hand, used a far more dangerous blend of red clay, iron oxide (rust), bromine mannite (highly toxic), and iodine to achieve the ideal rouge. Unfortunately, lead also found its way into many early lipstick recipes.

Red lips have long been considered a symbol of confidence, power, and sex appeal

Red lips have long been considered a symbol of confidence, power, and sex appeal

Students in makeup artist school may be surprised to learn that carmine dye (from crushed cochineal bugs) is still very much in use today—in lipsticks, yogurt, popsicles, and yes, even your Starbucks Strawberry Frappuccino! Looks like Cleopatra was really onto something.

Makeup Artistry Takes a Hit when Lipstick is Deemed Witchcraft!

After its early rise among society’s elite, lipstick suffered a hard fall around the mid-1700s. British Parliament passed a law stating that makeup, including lipstick, was a kind of witchcraft used by women to lure unsuspecting men into marriage. This was really the last blow for lipstick, which had already been criticized as immoral and fit only for the “lowest class” of women. Face makeup in general was seen as vain and dishonest; an attempt to hide one’s true character and intentions. Lipstick would remain on the sidelines of society until the dawn of the 20th century, when several events converged to help it go mainstream.

The Big Screen, First Lipstick Tube, & Birth of Modern Make-up Artists

The movie business plus technological innovation helped restore lipstick’s reputation and propel it into mainstream culture. In 1915, Maurice Levy invented the first metal lipstick tube, making the cosmetic far easier to carry around and apply (up until then, lipstick was wrapped in silk paper).

The lipstick tube made on-the-go application quick and easy

The lipstick tube made on-the-go application quick and easy

This new, modernized lipstick was also easier to mass produce and market, and within a few years it was rolling off assembly lines at major beauty companies like Estée Lauder, Chanel, and Elizabeth Arden. By mid-century, movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were wearing bold lipstick shades, encouraging women from all walks of life to do the same. Since then, lipstick has remained an absolute staple of the makeup industry. Colours have risen and fallen in popularity, but highlighting the lips has rarely gone out of style.

There’s Never Been a Better Time for Makeup Artists

Makeup is now a discipline, art form, and lucrative professional path. The cosmetic industry has soared well beyond the billion dollar mark in North America, making it possible for students to pursue a wide range of careers in the makeup business. Students taking makeup classes in Mississauga at the International Beauty Institute learn techniques needed to work in bridal, fashion, film and television, theatre, historical design, special effects, and more. Grads have what it takes to pursue several beauty career paths, including starting their own business.

A makeup artist student practices technique at the International Beauty Institute

A makeup artist student practices technique at the International Beauty Institute

Throughout the ages, makeup has been associated with daring, power, and self-confidence—the ideal inspiration for today’s innovative new makeup artists, coming of age in the greatest beauty boom the world has ever seen!

Want to learn more about taking makeup artistry courses in Mississauga?

Visit International Beauty Institute to explore our diploma and certificate courses, and find out about admissions.

Tags: , ,

Ready to learn more? Our admissions team is here to answer your questions.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Home Phone:
Program of Interest:*
Please email me information about your programs and school. I may cancel this consent at any time.


This course was challenging and my instructor was extremely knowledgeable. The hands-on experience with the Lasers was great.
Laser Theory and Laser Practical Certificate Student
Read More

aesthetics training beauty college beauty school become a laser technician brow shaping certificate CoolSculpting CoolSculpting Certificate esthetics institute eyebrow microblading course eyebrow microblading training eyelash extensions training facial hair removal International Beauty Institute Introduction to CoolSculpting Introduction to CoolSculpting Certificate laser hair removal laser hair removal school laser hair removal training laser tattoo removal courses laser tattoo removal training laser technician diploma laser technician school lash lift and tint lash lift and tint online certificate lash training makeup and beauty school makeup artist courses makeup artist courses in Mississauga makeup artist diploma makeup artistry courses makeup artist school makeup artist training makeup classes in Mississauga makeup courses in Mississauga makeup lessons in Mississauga makeup school medical aesthetics medical aesthetics diploma medical aesthetics training microblading certificate microblading course microblading training nails Nail technician nail technician certificate skin care skin care routine spa therapist spa therapist diploma spa therapist training Spa Therapy spa therapy courses training for laser hair removal