Lipstick, Makeup

A Century of Lipstick Love

Lipstick is the ultimate beauty essential. Its long history spans from 4000 BCE, when it was believed to be made from crushed gemstones, to present day with a beautiful range of shades, ingredients and finishes.

Avon first introduced lipstick in 1919, which came in two shades—light and dark. Back then, it was popular to apply it to emphasize the Cupid’s bow. Through the decades, we increased our offering to include more shades, alluring product names and colorful packaging. Our innovative lip products now range from traditional nourishing formulas to new innovations including an anti-aging Bio-Retinol core (the first of its kind in the U.S.).

Today, Avon sells countless shades to suit every lipstick persona and skin tone. Celebrate a century of lipstick love by throwing on a favorite shade the next time you step out the door!

A Century of Lipstick History

From deep reds to bold berries, tangy oranges to pale pinks, a rainbow of colors adorns the lips of women around the world every day. How did a product that has been perfecting pouts for centuries become a de facto form of self-expression?

Browse the photos below to discover the history of lipstick — the most widely owned color cosmetic on the planet—and how Avon played a part.

1910 to 1940: The Early Years

Avon’s first lipstick, c.1910.

Although product development started years prior, Avon began selling lipstick in 1919 in a metal container. The original offering was only two shades—light and dark—and the product was often applied in the fashionable “Cupid’s Bow” style of the times, intended to emphasize the two peaks of the upper lips.

Lipstick sample card, 1938.

By the 1930s, Avon carried five hues: Dark, Medium, Vivid, Betsy Ross and Ripe Cherry. Clients were invited to sample shades with the Avon Lipstick Sample Card, created in 1938. Each card included one of the five shades in a miniature tube and touted the lip colors’ attractive benefits (“high quality” and “amazingly indelible”).

1941 to 1962: Mid-Century & Modern

Hand-drawn advertisement for Double Dare Red, 1946.

Inspired by sirens of the silver screen, women in the ‘40s and 50s dared to wear brighter, bolder shades of lipstick. Double Dare Red, Ruby Red and Crimson are just a few examples of shades sold to Avon clients in the more modern, post-war era.

Avon employees managing the assembly line, 1950.

Soon, Avon would have one of the fastest assembly lipstick lines, comprised of both men and women, producing over 250 lipsticks in one minute and often 300,000 lipsticks in a single day.

A pretty pop of pink appears in an advertisement for Seventeen magazine, 1957.

More natural pink and peaches fall into favor, 1962.

1963 to 1987: The Spirited Seventies & Eighties

Geometric prints and patterns—popular at the time—make their way onto Avon lipstick packaging, 1970.

In this advertisement, the brand shines the spotlight on its Representatives, 1987.

A general spirit of rebelliousness pervaded the 1970s and 80s, and so bold colors like orange, coral, fuchsia supplanted the more natural colors of the 1960s and traditional matte red of the 1950s.

1988 to 2015: Color is Power

“Color is power,” Avon advertisement, 2000.

The creative forces behind Avon’s inspiring spectrum of shades close the second millennium by reminding us “color is power.”

In 2015, the company breaks ground with its most innovative lip product yet, the Ultra Color Indulgence Lip Color.

Lips looking ultra luscious thanks to the Ultra Color Indulgence lipstick in Poppy Pink, 2015.

What sets these shades apart? A weightless, wax-free gel formula that leaves lips instantly moisturized for a color that feels as great as it looks. Hues of Honey Flower, Day Lily and Peach Petunia offer a long-lasting, look-at-me lip color.

Today, Avon sells more than 400 shades thanks in part to our 6 million Representatives who make lipstick their livelihood. Celebrate your generation—and a century of lipstick love—by throwing on a favorite shade the next time you step out the door.

2020 to Present: Technology and Innovation

In 2020, we released our first-ever Virtual Try-On Tool, in which customers can upload a photo or take a picture and experiment with unlimited makeup looks. It’s a great way to try our many lipstick shades and find your perfect hue before you buy.

At a Live Shopping event in 2021, Avon launched the only lipstick in the U.S. with a core containing Bio-Retinol—fmg Cashmere Essence Lipcream. The innovative Bio-Retinol complex improves lip hydration and protection while helping lips look youthful. The unique formula also contains a concentrated blend of anti-aging ingredients including ginseng cell extract, antioxidant meadowfoam seed oil and vitamin E. Complete with a high-shine finish, this opulent lipstick wraps lips in luscious shine and comfort.

Are you ready for a better type of lipstick? Shop on my website today!

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