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
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.
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
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.
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.
1963 to 1987: The Spirited Seventies & Eighties
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
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.
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.