The Classics: Red Lipstick

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”

-Coco Chanel


Hello my lovelies!




Today’s post is not going to be a tutorial on this eye look, but if you’re interested in getting something similar, check out this post I made a little while back.




Instead, I really want to talk about red lipstick and its underrated place in the makeup world. I want to talk about the history of red lipstick, why it became so popular, as well as not so popular, and why I personally love it.


Red Lipstick: A Rocky History

The Beginning –

About 5,000 years ago, ancient Sumerian men and women were the first to create a red hue for the lips and eyes. What did they make it out of? Pulverized gemstones and lead. Sounds super healthy right? The famous Egyptian ruler, Cleopatra, was even known to go to incredible lengths in order to create the perfect red for herself, using crushed bugs, flowers, and even fish scales to create a signature color (Bustle). It’s also important to note that at this point in history, red lipstick was used as a sign of social class and was not limited to a singular gender, a stark contrast to how many parts of the world see makeup today.

Meanwhile, the Greeks didn’t take very kindly to a red pout, seeing it as the mark of a prostitute. Greece even went so far as to start heavily regulating the makeup habits of prostitutes, requiring that all working girls don a red hue to their lips. Any bare faced prostitutes would be punished, as it was considered “misleading” of them (Hernandez, Besame Cosmetics).

The Middle Ages –

During this time of ultra-religious conservatism, wearing red lipstick was considered a direct challenge to God. A red pout was quite literally associated with the devil, with many pieces of religious artwork depicting the devil himself applying red lipstick to a sinful woman (Pointer, The Artifice of Beauty). Of course, a facial deformity or a demanding husband were exceptions to this rule (Bustle).

The Elizabethan Era –

Like basically everything else Queen Elizabeth did, she said “nah, fuck that” to the church and continued with her red-lipstick-wearing ways. Elizabeth even thought it had magical healing powers, which is pretty terrifying, given that red lipstick was still made with lead during this time period (Hernandez, Besame Cosmetics).

Naturally, after Queen Elizabeth’s death, the church and court of public opinion went back to considering red lipstick ungodly. The massive stigma even made its way to the states during this time (Fashionista).

The Victorian Era –

You can thank French actress Sarah Bernhardt for knocking down some major stigma surrounding red lipstick at this time. Applying lipstick was seen as a very private ritual, but like Elizabeth, Bernhardt said “no thanks”, and went ahead with applying lipstick in public places like cafes (Weingarten).

The Early 1900’s –

At this point, red lipstick became a sign of the world’s worst fear: Feminists. Suffragettes were known to wear red on their lips as a sign of defiance and solidarity with a woman’s right to vote (Mic).

Also during this time, the first lipstick bullet was invented. Gone were the times of applying lipstick wrapped in paper; a newer, quicker, better option was here!

By the 1930’s, the stigma of red lips had mostly faded, with movie stars like Clara Bow popularizing the look. In fact, Vogue declared red lipstick “The most important cosmetic for women”, officially ousting the taboo (Fashionista).

Mid Century –

Red lipstick became a sign of unwavering patriotism for women during WWII, basically giving the axis powers a gigantic “fuck you”. It was well stocked in the workplace dressing rooms just for working women, and was used as a sign of lasting femininity amongst working women (Schaffer, Reading our Lips).

Once the war was over and the 50’s arrived, there was some slight regression in the way red lipstick was viewed. Red lipstick had once again entered a binary of naughty or nice, with Revlon’s Fire and Ice Campaign being a clear example (Marsh). Despite this seemingly negative outlook on red lips, sales on red lipsticks soared, because it allowed women to explore both sides of themselves within this made up binary.

The 1970’s –

During this decade, red lipstick took a huge hit in the popularity contest, especially amongst hippies wanting to go natural, and feminists, seeing red lipstick in direct opposition to the sexual revolution. Luckily, the disco queens of this time, like Donna Summers, brought back the bold red lip trend (Hernandez, Besame Cosmetics).

The 1980’s to Present –

During the 80’s workout craze, red lipstick lost more popularity, as it was seen as a special occasion color. On the side though, women like Madonna, Julia Roberts, and Linda Carter kept red lips alive and well (Bustle).

In present time, red lipstick is no longer viewed as trendy. Instead, lipstick is worn based on mood and preference. However, some pop icons, like Taylor Swift, sport a signature red lip, with many fans trying to emulate this look.


Why I love Red Lipstick

I may not wear a red often, but damn does it always look good. I used to be an exclusively red lipstick wearer, because I knew that no matter what, it would always be my friend. I don’t want to say that I “grew out” of red lips, but in a way, they are my original safety blanket.

Color preference aside, I also saw it as a sign of my own journey into womanhood, which sounds super philosophical and smells a little like bullshit, but I promise you that it’s true. When I first started wearing makeup in the sixth grade to cover my acne, I stuck with the base and maybe some mascara. As I grew and changed, red lipstick became this thing that meant I could make my own decisions when it came to how I wanted to look, and that I was kind of adulting at 14. In the most basic way possible, of course. For me, red lipstick was my little baby step into self discovery, as well as my discovery of the beauty world. What I’m saying in the most non-dramatic way possible is, red lipstick helped me get to where I am today.


That’s all I have for you guys today. Please remember to like, comment, and subscribe, it really helps me out. Also don’t forget to have a fabulous Monday and start to your week!


Stay beautiful!


Products Used:

Foundation –  Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation “0.5”

Concealer – Too Faced Born This Way Naturally Radiant Concealer “Very Fair”, Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer “Fair Neutral”

Under Eye Setting Powder – Maybelline Fit Me Mineral Loose Finishing Powder “05 Fair”

All Over Setting Powder – M.A.C Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation “NC15”

Contour/Bronzer – NYX Contour Pro Palette “Sculpt/Toffee”

Blush – Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush “Dazzled”

Highlight – Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed “Champagne Pop”, Maybelline Facestudio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter “Molten Gold”

Brows – ABH Brow Definer “Chocolate”

Eyeshadow –  Morphe 350 Palette

Mascara – L’oreal Lash Paradise

Lips – Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme Lipstick “Goddess 202”



Disclaimer: I will never edit my pictures in a way that misrepresents my natural weight and body type. Some Links may be affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

5 thoughts on “The Classics: Red Lipstick

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