Throughout history, red lipstick has come in and out of fashion and social acceptance yet has remained a staple in the bags of women all over the world.
Historically speaking, red lipstick has implied different things at different times.
Whether it makes people uncomfortable or feel powerful, red lipstick always makes a bold statement.
Is Red Lipstick Professional?
Yes – Red lipstick is professional.
Of course, it depends on the person wearing it, but red lipstick demands attention.
Depending on how it’s worn, red lipstick can complete a professional look, making someone appear “put together,” serious, and confident.
This often is accompanied by peer respect.
Wearing red lipstick can also help boost self-esteem and help a professional feel more comfortable in their work environment.
Every business or line of work has its dress codes and rules, so it’s best to follow those requirements before getting ready in the morning.
Where Did Red Lipstick Come From?
Lipstick, in general, has debatable origins.
Some historians credit the Ancient Sumerian and people of the Indus Valley in South and Central Asia as the originators of lipstick 5,000 years ago.
These ancient people were known to crush up gemstones and decorate their faces with them, including their lips and eyes.
Ancient Egyptians crushed insects, to extract the color red, carmine, before applying it to their lips.
In 16th century England, Queen Elizabeth I wore red lipstick in contrast to a powdered white face, creating a fashion trend.
At that time, the red dye was extracted from plants.
It wasn’t until 1884 that manufacturers in Paris started branding and selling lipstick.
By the 1890s, lipstick was sold in the Sears Roebucks catalogs and was widely sold in stores by the 1920s.
It has since continued to gain strength and popularity.
With its growing acceptance around the world, red lipstick has continued to thrive.
How Is Red Lipstick Made?
The creation of red lipstick has evolved throughout the centuries.
The color red was first used in makeup by extracting carmine dye from insects, such as cochineal, native to Mexico and Central America and found living on cactus plants.
Carmine dye is found in other insects around the world as well.
Once the insect was crushed, its carminic acid was mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to create bold colors, including red.
Later, the red dye used in lipstick came from crushed plants.
This dye was combined with beeswax to create lipstick.
In the 1890s, red lipstick was created by combining carmine dyes with beeswax and oil, and by the end of the 19th century, the first commercially sold lipstick products were made with deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax.
This early lipstick inception also had to be applied with a brush at home, as it was yet to be sold in an applicable mobile tube.
Later, in the Sears Roebuck catalogs, lipstick was sold in paper tubes, tinted papers, or in small pots.
Maurice Levy developed the first metal cylinder canisters for lipstick, which became popular in the 1910s.
However, wearers still had to use a lever on the side that pushed the lipstick up for application.
In 1923, the first swivel-up tube was designed by Mason Bruce Jason Jr., making the product extremely user-friendly and ready to take with you on the go.
The chemist, Hazel Bishop, created a long-lasting and non-smearing lipstick in the 1950s, which quickly gained popularity after World War II.
Since then, there have been an endless amount of incarnations of lipsticks and lipstick colors.
Today, the basic ingredients of lipstick are wax, oils, antioxidants, and emollients, along with a variety of different color dyes.
Lipstick is sold in various forms like liquid, lip balms, glosses, crayons, pencils, liners, palettes, and stains, in addition to the classic lipstick tube.
How Has the Symbolism of Red Lipstick Evolved?
Ancient Egyptians wore lipstick as a symbol of social status, regardless of gender.
Though Queen Elizabeth I made red lipstick fashionable during the 16th century, by the 19th century, red lipstick was only worn by marginalized people like prostitutes and actors.
Similarly, in the United States at this time, lipstick was not fashionable for respectable women to wear and instead was worn mainly by actors and actresses.
However, by 1912, women in America had started to get on board and accept lipstick as a norm.
When Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden started selling it in their stores in the 1920s, it became even more widely acceptable, and women in the United States began slowly incorporating it into their daily makeup routine.
In the 1920s, red lipstick was worn by flappers and dancers and quickly became a symbol of their independence and raw energy.
Women suffragettes also started wearing red lipstick as an act of power and strength in the 1920s as they campaigned for voting rights.
The look was purposefully subversive and quite daring at the time, as it still represented independence and emancipation from a male-dominated society.
The 1930s saw red lipstick as a representation of mature womanhood and sexuality.
It was frowned upon for teenagers to wear it.
However, teen girls started wearing it as an act of rebellion and as a way to act older than they were.
Many teen magazines and publications stressed the idea of caution when it came to wearing red lipstick in the 1940s.
At this more conservative time in the United States, society deemed teenage lipstick wearers as promiscuous and provocative.
Actresses like Marilyn Monroe also gave red lipstick a strong reputation for sexuality and feminine identity.
By the 1960s, red lipstick was so popular that it was almost unacceptable not to wear it.
Many women that didn’t wear it were accused of homosexuality and lack of femininity.
Some women in the 1960s and 1970s chose not to wear it with the advent of the women’s movement and the Equal Rights Act campaigns.
Since then, red lipstick has continued to go in and out of style but remains a point of contention between liberal and conservative groups.
What Are the Perks of Wearing Red Lipstick to Work?
There can be many advantages to sporting red lipstick in a professional setting.
Some women report being taken more seriously.
This could be true for many reasons, one of which might be that adding red lipstick shows that you put thought and care into your overall appearance.
Coming to work looking put together contributes to a look of professionalism.
Red lipstick can often be the thing that pulls together an outfit or business suit.
It shows you’re making an effort, and that sentiment is widely respected and well received.
Interestingly, a recent study showed that red lipstick-wearing women are viewed as more competent in the workplace.
Red lipstick is also such a classic look that it rarely goes out of fashion.
There are, of course, different shades of red that may trend at certain times, but wearing red lipstick is usually a safe bet and goes with pretty much everything.
Red lipstick is also a symbol of power, both external and internal.
Many women that wear red lipstick say it makes them feel powerful and are therefore more likely to exert that power externally.
From an outsider’s point of view, women with red lipstick may conjure more respect.
Red lipstick often makes a woman appear confident, reassuring outsiders that the wearer is knowledgeable and has things under control.
Because the color red is so striking and draws attention, it also makes others look at you.
This could be a great tool to use in the board room or if you are in a position of power.
It helps reign in wandering, bored eyes during work meetings or presentations to the wearer.
How Can You Keep Lipstick On All Day?
Though it takes a little extra effort and time, getting your lips properly ready to take on the day can go a long way.
This will save you time in the long run and keep your lips looking great for hours without having to constantly reapply.
If your lips are a little chapped or dry, it’s good to start with a lip scrub.
This helps exfoliate your skin and get rid of any dry and dead skin.
A lip balm or lip serum might also be needed prior to lipstick application to hydrate your lips and create a more even application process.
Using a primer can also help with this and allow your lipstick to last the whole day.
You can use concealer or a lightweight foundation as your primer.
This step fills in the cracks in your lips and makes the surface smooth.
To make sure your red lipstick doesn’t bleed, it’s important to apply a lip liner.
If you don’t want the liner to stand out, choose a close shade to your lipstick color.
Then, apply your lipstick and remember to blot.
Blotting with a tissue, which removes access oil, and then reapplying, helps set the color in place and allows it to seep into all of the tiny creases of your lips smoothly.
If you want to go the extra step, you can also apply a translucent setting powder that will keep the color in place all day.
Matte lipsticks will also typically last longer than creamier lipsticks, so choosing the right lipstick is crucial.
What Are Some of the Longest-Lasting Red Lipsticks?
Not all lipsticks are made the same, choosing the right one might take some trial and error.
There are different components to take into consideration when finding the best long-lasting red lipstick for yourself, such as brand, combination, and skin type.
New lipstick colors and lipstick forms are constantly being developed and introduced to the public, so it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends in long-lasting lipsticks.
Some of the proven contenders though include NYX’s Shine Loud High Shine Long Lasting Liquid Lip Color, Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick, Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick, Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte Lipstick in Red Carpet, and Covergirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color With Topcoat.
If you’re trying to stay healthy and socially conscious when choosing the right brand, it’s important to take things like company ethics and ingredients into consideration.
Some brands use more naturally derived ingredients in their cosmetics than others.
Also, many newer cosmetic brands strive to be vegan and animal cruelty-free, like NYX, Milani, Kuckian, and Honest Beauty.
Covergirl recently went cruelty-free, claiming they do not test on animals, and even received their Leaping Bunny logo by Cruelty Free International, an organization that performs rigorous tests on cosmetics ensuring they meet a certain standard.
Some of the older, more established brands, like Maybelline and L’Oréal, have yet to jump on the cruelty-free bandwagon, though Maybelline recently started a “Green Edition” line that is free from animal testing.
They are not yet certified cruelty free, however.
What Workplaces Are Unacceptable for Red Lipstick?
Again, each workplace has its dress codes and code of ethics, so it’s best to do some research before venturing into uncharted territory.
However, red lipstick is widely accepted in most workplaces, and it seems as though women are wearing it with more and more confidence.
Countries around the world each have their fashion trends, practices, and struggles with women’s rights, so wearability is also dependent on the country or area someone lives and works.
Some professions in the United States where wearing red lipstick might be questionable or impractical is law enforcement, firefighting, medical practitioners, construction workers, farmers, nature conservationists, or other outdoor workers.
The #metoo movement has also greatly increased strong feminine power in the workplace and is making it taboo to comment on another person’s appearance.
What Does the Consensus Say?
Obviously, this is a debatable and highly personal topic.
Much of the debate relies on opinion and beliefs.
A person’s appearance is heavily decided on by societal standards, religious requirements, and personal aesthetics, and this must all be taken into consideration before making judgments.
A poll taken by NY Post writer and author of the career bestseller Leave Your Mark Aliza Licht in 2015, showed a resounding majority of women found it acceptable to wear lipstick in a professional setting.
Licht sent the survey out to her 15,000 followers and was answered by 460 women of all different professions, including lawyers, government workers, bankers, and more.
The survey resulted in 91.2% of the women saying it was appropriate to wear red lipstick at work.
78.8% responded that red lipstick shows the wearer is confident.
46.6% responded that it was appropriate to wear red lipstick to a job interview, while 14.7% believed people wearing red lipstick were viewed negatively.
Is Red Lipstick Safe To Wear?
Today’s lipsticks are made with various ingredients and through many different processes.
For the most part, these ingredients have not been proven to be immediately harmful.
However, everyone has different allergies or sensitivities.
A troubling study done by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2007 found 61% of their tested lipsticks to have traces of lead.
The FDA conducted a following study that found traces of lead in all of their subjects ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 parts per milligram (ppm).
However, because the lead in lipsticks is absorbed through the body and not heavily ingested, the FDA found lipstick acceptable to wear.
Though lead in trace amounts may not be initially dangerous, lead builds up in the body and can later lead to chronic health issues. Lead poisoning can also affect mental and physical development.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states there is no acceptable or safe amount of lead in the bloodstream.
Many people also have adverse reactions to color dyes and artificial scents or flavorings that can be found in lipstick, so it’s always best to check the ingredients in what you are applying to your lips.