Poisonous Lipsticks to die for – Part 1

vagabond-lipstick-neff.jpg

So where did lipsticks come from and what is it made from besides fish scales?

And did you know that even the Church waded in on its controversy. They actually banned the stuff claiming that it was exclusively reserved for Tarts, Whores and Harlots and something to do with the “incarnation of Satan”

Mind you, they said the same thing about red shoes but I think that stopped when a couple of them were caught playing dress up in size 14 Red Velvet Closed Toe Mary Jane Heels. Those defrocked gentlemen were obviously sold on the wonderful byline provided by http://www.unique-vintage.com            “A voraciously fetching velvet heel? Don’t mind if we do, darlings! Presenting a sultry soft pair of platform pumps with an adjustable buckle strap. Boasting ravishing red velvet uppers with a stout closed toe, soft cushion interior and sky high 6″ heel with 2″ exposed platform

Clearly written by somebody who understands shoes

And because I love the shoe, I am including it here for your looking pleasure

red mary janes

But I digress. I was attempting to clarify on the origins of lipstick and while we are about it, some of the peculiar and on many occasions deadly ingredients but Ladies, that’s the price you pay to look Uber-Stunning

We have always painted our faces, both men and women. Hunters painted their skin to blend in with their environment using the goo from squished bugs, berries and other stuff. Priests, their devotees and witch doctors chanting around the fire decorated themselves to honour their gods. Football fans, hooligans or not, use their mom and girlfriends makeup to colour-in their favourite team on their unshaved faces. Young girls and old gals use face paint to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. Although in hindsight that would probably be a lot cheaper just to walk around naked but there you go

Mesopotamian women (located in modern-day Iraq, Turkey and Syria) discovered that if they crushed semi-precious stones they could decorate their lips. They applied the dust from the ground up gems to their lips. Thinking about it now, they probably had to use some sort of animal fat (read modern day Vaseline) as a base to keep the dust on. My guess would be that many of them did not live to ripe old age due to the slivers of precious stone that they were swallowing and cutting up their intestines. Excavations of Ur’s ‘Royal Cemetery’ revealed that those who could afford to do so had themselves buried with their lip paints stored in cockleshells

Next came the Egyptians who used a beautiful deep red color which was extracted from the bodies of cochineal beetles. Even Cleopatra was a big fan of this colour and probably the main reason why best friends Marcus Antonius and Julius Caesar had a falling out

They also used red ochre (which our Himba women here in Namibia still cover their bodies with), and a variety of other dyes to create a various shades, ranging from tangerine to pink, blue and even black. And there you thought your Sugar Queen Gothic Vampire Black Grape lipstick made you look retro. Even all the old Horror movies had the Actresses wearing black lipstick. And another thing while we are on the topic, make sure that you have the right skin tone to wear black lipstick and if not, then get the right colour base to go with the lipstick. It does not help if you are going for the gothic look but are walking around with a yellow toned face

Lipsticks were also made from a blend of white lead combined with crushed red rocks and was popularised by the Sumerian Queen, or Priestess, Shub-ad (depending on who you are talking to). It was highly poisonous, but that did not prevent women experimenting with glorious lip colors. Shub-ad was buried with 52 attendants who poisoned themselves so that they would be able to serve her in the afterlife. (Probably poisoned by their own lipstick if you ask me)

And as usual, following in the Egyptians footsteps, comes the Greeks and the Romans who used it particularly on the stage to portray all the female roles (instead of just allowing women onto the stage, go figure). Eventually all the Grecian women regardless of rank and status wore lipstick and made colours by concocting strange ingredients such as seaweed, flowers, crushed berries, red ochre, resins and crocodile dung. It’s debatable whether the job of Chief Crocodile Dung Collector was a sought after position

Lipsticks underwent a lot of changes from that point onwards and that is where the fish scale story comes in. in order to get shimmering lips, a pearlescent substance found in fish scales was used. (Pearlescent substances are also put into car paint, shampoo and nail varnish to give that glimmer effect)

Also, a really worthy mention is that during the Islamic Golden Age (622 – 1258), the notable Arab cosmetologist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi invented solid lipsticks, which were perfumed stocks rolled and pressed into special molds. As a side note, Zahrawi’s contribution to medicated cosmetics included under-arm deodorants, hair removing sticks* and hand lotions, hair dyes, hair straighteners and he even understood the importance of suntan lotion. Do yourself a favour and look this man up, but first finish reading

*Hair removing sticks involved twirling (twisting maybe) the stick against the hairs and then twisting and yanking it in the opposite direction. Sound painful and very much like an Epistick epilator facial hair remover, which is another torture device almost like the mammogram machine down at the local clinic and probably also invented by a man

End of Part 1

(image above is Neferneferuaten Nefertiti who was a drop dead gorgeous Egyptian queen and the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc but that’s a really long winded story full of intrigue and shenanigans, so maybe another day)

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