Fashion: The history of... Lipstick - Lip-smacking good

BUYING A lipstick is the cheapest way to own a designer brand name, with Chanel, Versace and Dior all putting their names to luxurious make-up ranges. Decorating the face has been practised throughout the history of mankind by using the stains from plants and minerals or whatever was to hand.

By the Middle Ages lip colour was being used to denote class, something which carried on through to the beginning of the 20th century. Crimson- stained lips were popular during the reign of Elizabeth I and Elizabeth herself painted on cochineal blended with gum arabic, egg white and fig milk.

In the 17th century the church denounced lip painting as altering God's most precious gift and in 1770 Parliament passed a law condemning lipstick as connected with witchcraft, but nothing would deter women from using colour to beautify their faces.

Heavy makeup was not considered socially acceptable in Britain in the 19th century, and towards the 1850s reports were being published warning women of the dangers of using lead and vermillion in cosmetics applied to the face. At the end of that century, French cosmetics company Guerlain were one of the first to create a commercially successful lip rouge; up until then lip colour was made in the home.

Lipstick began to be mass produced at the beginning of the 20th century, when a metal container, similar to the shape used today, was invented by American Maurice Levy in 1915.

Trends in lip colour and shape changed with each new decade and the popularity of lipstick has seen the introduction of other products such as lip gloss - created by Max Factor for Hollywood actresses in 1928 - lip liner and lip balm.

The Nineties have seen major technological advances in lipstick formulation. Ingredients such as Vitamin C, spa water and polymers are included to make lipsticks stay on for longer while moisturising the lips, and every two minutes someone in the UK buys a Rimmel Rich Moisture Lipstick in Heather Shimmer.

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