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Chinese Cosmetic Makeup

In ancient China, especially in the Tang Dynasty, cosmetic makeup became increasingly complicated, there were seven steps  for the making up: powder base, applying color to the face, eye-brow darkening, applying "forehead gold" or "floral twinkle/gold", painting the dimples, decorating the cheeks and applying lip color.

If eyes are compared to the windows to the soul, lips, the mirrors of one's character and temperament. Being an inalienable part of face making up, the decoration of lip has gone through a long history and has various types in different periods.

It is said that lip makeup was originally used to satisfy gods in religious occasions. With time passing by, people realized that with a bit decoration in the lip could liven up one's vitality and sometimes even show one's social status. As a consequence, different materials for lip decoration were constantly tested in order to make the lips red and bright, forming up the Chinese art of lip makeup.

In ancient China, the lip beauty products were normally called "lip balm" or "mouth balm", according to the records of Chinese Shiming (or: Explanation of Names) Dictionary written by Liu Xi in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25—AD220).

It should be noticed that, in the very early stage, lip balm was typically, but not exclusively, worn by women. This paste-like and sticky mixture was used to relieve chapped or dry lips caused by dry air, cold temperatures or wind.

The lip balm in ancient China also bore fantastic fragrance. In the North Dynasty (AD 386—AD 581), the raw materials have been added with ageratum and clove and in the Tang Dynasty, artificial flavors began to be used in the lip balm.

Through historic times, the raw material was vermilion, the main composition is mercuric sulfide (HgS), which was produced in Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan Province. The shortage is that it lacks in strong adhesion, making vermilion easily dissolved on warm lips so the shiny red could not last long. Later on, the wise Chinese people added mineral wax and animal fat to it, making vermilion water-proof with strong adhesive force. Then the lip balm was not like the lipstick we see today, it was a paste held in a particular container. After Sui (AD 589 — AD 618) and Tang Dynasties, some lip balm was handled into solid substance and tubiform, making it easily to bring with, it soon gained popularity. The production of lip balm has not experienced great innovation only until modern times.