Right off the bat, let me be honest: I rarely ever wear lipstick. The most make up I wear is restricted to the eyes, but I am a fan.
Lipstick goes back a long way. Mesipotamian women supposedly crushed precious jewels to decorate their lips. Huh, kinda makes Ke$ha seem like less of an asshole.
(Nope. Still an asshole.)
Ancient Egyptians extracted a purple dye from fucus-algin, iodine, and bromine mannite. As you might have already figured out, that wasn't exactly FDA approved. Cleopatra's method involved crushing carmine beetles and ants for a base. On a side note: does anyone else feel weird writing "beetle" instead of "Beatle"? Anyway. But my favorite has to be the use of fish scales to achieve that pearlescenct effect.
It was the Arab Andalusian cosmetologist Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi that invented solid lipsticks, as we know them today. It took awhile, but Medieval Europe managed to bring the party down by banning lipstick, since it was an "incarnation of Satan." It was strictly reserved for prostitutes.
Lipstick gained some popularity in 16th century England when Queen Elizabeth I made bright red lips and a stark white face fashionable.
(I do love those redheads)
But that didn't last very long; only wealthy women and actors wore lipstick and by the late 1700's Parliament moved to have marriages annulled if the bride wore any cosmetics before her wedding day. It was Queen Victoria that put the final kibosh on everything - once again, it was only acceptable for prostitutes to wear make up, specifically lipstick. As dumb as all this sounds, keep in mind how dangerous make up was at the time, often loaded with lead and vermilion. So, you know, there's that.
Anyway, the French figured out how to make a cosmetic that wouldn't maim and kill you and make it available to the masses.
Even as late as the 19th century lipstick was still considered inapropriate for day-to-day wear and was found mostly among prostitutes and stage performers. Sarah Berhardt wore it frequently in public, even applying it in public.
1915 saw the invention of the swivel lipstick tube that we use today; this made the makeup very easy to use, since it didn't require a lipstick brush, which made the product much more popular. The rest is fun and games!
Once the Roaring 20's rolled around, Flappers locked onto lipstick (and other make up). They wore it as a symbol of independence, paving the way for the masses. Usually in dark reds and worn in the popular "Cupid's Bow."
Lipstick was still considered an adult product at this time. Women wore it as an expression of their sexuality and to emulate the glamorous actresses on the silver screen. Elizabeth Arden began exploring more colors, though reds were still very popular. The "Cupid's Bow" was still en vogue but fuller and with flares in the corner - similar to Joan Crawford.
By now lipstick was widely accepted in society, though it would become somewhat scarce during WWII. Teenage girls started wearing lipstick, though they were heavily discouraged. These two factors combined, created the idealized "natural look." Lipstick was painted on to match the natural lip shape (though the top lip was still a little fuller than normal). Two kinds of colors were popular: the first was a "monotone" that supported the natural look and the other was a "contrast" which accented the face.
The natural look remained popular into the mid-century. Pastel, or simply light colored lips, came into day-to-day wear, while red remained a night time staple. Women still looked to actresses for style tips and those actresses were glamor goddesses, like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
Interestingly, the Civil Rights movement helped broadened the make up landscape. With more black artists working in mainstream entertainment, make up needed to be created to accommodate them. The Pop Art movement also introduced more elaborate and exciting shades. Many black female singers would wear white or very light lipstick (and eyeshadow), and soon, white girls were following suit.
What many people associate with the 1960's from shows like Mad Men is really much closer to make up from the 1950's. "Mod" make up was something teenagers wore; "older" women, like Joan and Peggy, still wore traditional make up.
The natural look continued to stay popular, especially when the Hippie movement began later in the decade.
Ironically, make up (lipstick in particular) had become so popular and a part of everyday life, that, if a girl didn't wear any of it, she was considered a lesbian or even mentally ill.
(every day look and bold Pop Art look)
More and more color was introduced during the disco era, emphasizing the decadence of the time. Though day-to-day wear remained subdued, Woman's Lib gave women the freedom to wear make up however they pleased. In some cases, that meant none at all.
(everyday look and night life Disco look)
Similar to the 1960's, makeup focused almost entirely on the eyes. Later in the decade attention was paid to the mouth. Full, glossy lips in bold, bright colors became popular. On the alternative scene was black lipstick, popular in the Goth and Punk world.
Once Nirvana put the nail in the glam rock coffin, glam make up followed suit. "Heroin Chic" or the grunge look became hugely popular, even making it's way to the runways of Paris and New York. Red and metallic colors were popular shades for the mouth.
There are so many option when it comes to make up and it all starts with what look you want to go with. Emulating a specific decade can be fun, so take a little time and look into a style that you think suits you. Try it for a night out and then slowly work it into your day-to-day wear. If you're not sure how to go about putting together a look, try some video tutorials. And if you want someone to walk you through, in person, check out your local beauty schools or community colleges. They often have salons in those departments and the students and teachers will show you whatever you like. Enjoy!