Lipstick dates back 5000 years to ancient Mesopotamia when crushed semi-precious jewels were applied to the lips to achieve shades ranging from bright red to deep purple. The first known lip-painting kit (complete with color-imparting crushed red rocks) was found in the 5,000-year-old tomb of Queen Schub-ad at Ur. Egyptian women adorned their pouts with a concoction of henna, pulverized beetles, and ants, which was deemed so essential they packed a to-go palette for the afterlife. Elizabeth I and the ladies of her court powdered their faces a ghostly white so that their crimson mouths - stained with a coat of poisonous mercuric sulfide - appeared more dramatic. Even prim, makeup-eschewing Victorians smooched red crepe paper in hopes that the tint would transfer to their lips.
L'Oréal is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and lipstick (particularly red lipstick) happens to be staging a major comeback. The fall 2009 runways were overrun with glamorous ruby red lips.
So many women think they can't wear red lipstick. Everyone can wear it; you just have to find the right shade. You also need to decide what kind of attitude you want to convey. Depending on the spirit in which it's worn, red lipstick can be fresh and demure, costumey, punk rock or bombshell sexy.
Top 10 Reds
1. Max Factor Vivid Impact Lipcolor in Ms. Right, $10
2. Laura Mercier Mistress, $22
3. Chanel Rouge Allure in Lover, $30
4. M.A.C. Ruby Woo, $14
5. Shiseido Valentine, $25
6. YSL Rouge Volupté in Red Muse, $34
7. Nars Jungle Red, $24
8. Guerlain Rouge G in Gala, $45
9. Revlon Fire and Ice, $8
10. Maybelline Color Sensational in Red Revival, $7