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Who invented color changing lipstick?

Lipstick is one of the most popular cosmetic products used by women around the world. For centuries, women have used lip color to enhance their beauty and express their style. While traditional lipsticks come in a solid color, innovators have created varieties that can change shade when applied to the lips. But who first invented color changing lipstick? Let’s take a look at the history of this fascinating cosmetic invention.

The origins of lipstick

The use of lip color dates back thousands of years to ancient times. Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, and Chinese noblemen are all said to have worn lip paints made from crushed gems, beetles, and berries. By the 19th century, lipstick had become more sophisticated. In 1884, perfumers in Paris began selling lipsticks in silk paper tubes. The trend quickly spread to Britain and America.

During the early 20th century, the popularity of lipstick grew enormously. Cosmetic companies like Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein started mass producing lipstick in metal tubes similar to today’s versions. Hollywood starlets helped fuel the craze for bright red lips on the silver screen. By the mid-1900s lipstick was a makeup staple around the world.

The creation of mood lipstick

In the 1950s, beauty brands started experimenting with lipsticks that reacted to the pH balance of the wearer’s lips. In 1952, Revlon released a “kiss test” lipstick that was supposed to turn pink when kissed by someone you loved. These early mood lipsticks changed color based on body temperature and acidity levels in the skin.

While Revlon’s kiss test lipstick was unsuccessful, it paved the way for more advanced color changing lipstick technology. In the 1970s, makeup companies in the U.S. and Japan began developing patented formulas for lipsticks that shifted shades when applied to the lips. These mood lipsticks reacted to the pH, moisture levels, and temperature of each individual’s lips to create a customizable, one-of-a-kind color.

The first color changing lipstick

In 1987, Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder Companies obtained a patent for a color changing lipstick composed of thermochromic substances. Thermochromic materials change color in response to changes in temperature. When the body heat from the lips warmed the lipstick, it shifted shades. This innovative technology allowed the lipstick to create a customized hue.

The following year in 1988, Estee Lauder launched the first-ever color changing lipstick under its Origins brand. The lipstick was called “Moodswing” and retailed for $14. It glided on clear but transformed into one of four shades of pink or coral when applied. Estee Lauder filed a trademark for the name “Moodswing” to protect its unique color changing lipstick.

The Origins Moodswing lipstick was a major breakthrough. It allowed women to wear a shade that was tailored to their personal body chemistry. Other beauty brands quickly started developing their own versions of color changing lipstick to compete with the hot new product. Estee Lauder’s 1987 patent on thermochromic makeup revolutionized the lipstick industry.

The popularity of color changing lipstick

In the 1990s, color changing lipsticks exploded in popularity. Makeup companies in America, Europe, and Asia released their own mood lipsticks with innovative technologies and fun marketing campaigns. Here are some examples:

  • In 1991, Japan’s Kanebo cosmetics introduced the Emotional Lipstick which shifted shades based on skin moisture.
  • In 1992, Spain’s Puig Beauty & Fashion released the Change Lips lipstick line with four transforming colors.
  • In 1994, L’Oreal started selling its Colorappeal lipstick that reacted to pH balance and created custom hues.
  • In 1998, Clinique launched the Twilight Mauve Different Lipstick that adapted to the temperature of lips.

By the late 1990s, color changing lipsticks were a full blown craze. Women were captivated by the idea of lipstick that would transform into their perfect personalized shade. Beauty companies positioned mood lipsticks as futuristic and exciting. Special effects like sparkles and shimmers were added to color changing formulas. Advertisements emphasized the individualized, adjustable nature of the products.

Recent color changing technology

The color changing lipstick frenzy has carried over into the 21st century. Cosmetic chemists are still dreaming up high-tech formulas that react to body chemistry in new ways. Here are some of the innovations in recent years:

  • Lipsticks that change color based on fluctuations in hormones and menstrual cycles.
  • Natural, plant-based color changing lipsticks made from flower extracts and fruit pigments.
  • Lipsticks that adjust shades subtly to complement skin undertones and lip pigmentation.
  • Vitamin-enriched, moisturizing color changing lip formulas.

21st century mood lipsticks combine cutting-edge color change technology with skin care benefits. They transform lips into the most flattering, customized shades of pink, red, peach, coral, and purple.

Color changing lipstick today

Color changing lipstick has secured its place as a makeup bag staple. The revolutionary mood lipstick created by Estee Lauder in the late 1980s kicked off an entire category of innovative beauty products. Today, cosmetic brands around the world offer an enormous range of color changing lipsticks.

Modern formulations allow you to try out numerous shades with just one lipstick. Temperature change, pH balance, moisture levels, and skin chemistry all influence the resulting lip color. Blue, violet, and green tints are added for cool effects. Lipsticks transform from clear to vibrant colors, or shift from one bold shade to another.

Celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga have shown off futuristic color changing lips. Social media influencers post transformation videos trying on the latest mood lipstick releases. Special effects and multidimensional shimmers make color changing lipsticks mesmerizing to watch. They have become coveted statement pieces that constantly change and adapt.

While mood lipstick is now an essential cosmetic product, its origins only date back a few decades. Estee Lauder’s revolutionary 1987 thermochromic patent paved the way for all the advanced color changing lipsticks we know and love today. Leonard Lauder’s ingenious invention allows millions of women to customize their lip look and transform their beauty routine.

Key innovations in color changing lipstick

Here is a summary of some of the most important innovations in color changing lipstick technology:

Year Innovation Company
1952 Kiss test lipstick changes color when kissed Revlon
1970s Patented formulas react to moisture and pH levels Various
1987 Thermochromic color changing lipstick Estee Lauder (Origins)
1990s Sparkle and shimmer effects added Various
2000s Natural, flower extract formulas Various

The future of color changing lipstick

Cosmetic chemists continue to develop new color changing lipstick technologies every year. One emerging trend is lips that change to match your outfit. Blue-hued lipsticks are transforming into green and purple to complement colorful clothes. Lipsticks are also adjusting their shade to suit different fashion looks from day to night.

Beauty companies are expanding into unconventional lip colors like grey, blue, and black through color changing effects. Applied clear, the lipsticks react with skin to produce bolder hues. We will also likely see more organic, vegan formulas made from natural ingredients like flower petals and algae.

Smart lipsticks may emerge that actually sense colors around you and adjust their shade accordingly. Electronic lipsticks may also connect to smartphones via Bluetooth to customize colors. With advanced microencapsulation techniques, possibilities for color transforming lipsticks are endless.

While the technology continues to evolve, the appeal remains the same. Women love lipstick that brings customized, perfect color to their lips. From Estee Lauder’s 1980s original to the latest breakthroughs, color changing lipstick allows you to reinvent your look anytime.


Color changing lipstick has revolutionized the makeup world with its innovative technology that creates customized shades. While ancient civilizations used rudimentary lip paints, it was Leonard Lauder’s 1987 patented formula that kickstarted the modern color changing craze. Estee Lauder’s Origins Moodswing lipstick was the first to shift hues in response to body heat. Since then, numerous brands have released thermochromic, pH-regulating, and moisture adapting lipsticks. Color changing effects continue to advance with flower extracts, microencapsulation, and electronic capabilities. Though the formulas evolve, color changing lipsticks remain popular for their ability to shift shades on each woman’s lips to the most flattering, perfect hue.