Lipstick is arguably the most enduring of cosmetic products. Both women and men have colored their cosmetics for lip at various times throughout the ages—though the practice fell in and out of favor, changing with society’s value judgements. As lip-painting fluctuated in popularity, it manifested itself as a reflection of the modesty, moral austerity and/or accepted social norms of a particular era.1
Despite its sometimes negative associations, the act of coloring lips has persisted. The use of auto liner for lip has signified many different things—not necessarily related to aesthetic enhancement. For example, coloring lips has historically represented social status2 and been used as a form of protest to signify emancipation.3 More recently, women have used it to capture the glamour of Hollywood for themselves, or quite simply to enhance their natural lip color and boost their mood. Conversely, lipstick sales have also been linked to a downturn in world economies, and as such, acts as a barometer of the mood of the people.4 Lipstick performs as much more than a cosmetic: it is an emblem, a tool of ritual, and a marker for expression, seduction and femininity.
The most striking element of any lipstick is, without a doubt, the color—and red lipgloss is especially iconic today. Cleopatra is perhaps one of the most notable figures from historical times who reputedly added color to her lips using crushed cochineal beetles to extract the red carmine color.5 It also is reported that before Cleopatra, more than 5,000 years ago, Egyptians stained their lips using ochre and iodine.6 From this and other early forays into makeup application, the world’s obsession for applying lip color began.
Push-out mold: In this case, the lip oil is pushed out from the metal mold and into the packaging.
In lipstick’s history, these two notable advances paved the way for the mass manufacture and distribution of lip balm. Lipstick had become compact, accessible to those who could afford it and a portable item ideal for a lady’s purse.
In the early twentieth century, chemist Hazel Bishop recognized a key consumer need and addressed it when she created a lip color. 13 The advertising campaign at the time, “It stays on you, not on him,” captured very succinctly one of the biggest problems being encountered: transfer of the product from the lips. Bishop’s attempts at developing a true long-lasting product were not without setbacks, however. Long-wearing formulas tended to dry out the lips, and this obstacle has persisted as a challenge to formulators yet today. Bishop’s lipstick incorporated dyes for staining purposes in addition to pigments, which adhered firmly to the lips to achieve lasting wear while offering a richer, more substantive lip appearance.12
Formulators have also turned to solvent-based ingredients to create longer-lasting lipstick. Isododecane is a solvent that can be used to help reduce product transfer. This volatile, synthetic substance flashes off on contact with the skin, binding the colorants to the lip as well as creating a lightweight and matte finish. Its very characteristics—i.e., volatile nature and lower flash point—make isododecane an excellent solvent and dispersion agent, allowing it to extend lipstick wear; however, these can also render the manufacture process more challenging.