Hazel Bishop had no time for marriage. For years she pulled double duty, as a chemist by day, developing aviation fuel, while in the evenings, cooking up recipes in search of the world’s first smudge-proof lipstick. After 300 trials in her tiny home kitchen, she landed on the perfect formula.
In 1949, with the slogan, “stays on you, not him,” Bishop launched a cosmetics company to sell her new product for $1 a tube. The lipstick shades were to the point: pink, red and dark red, and they were an instant success, eventually claiming 25% of the market share and igniting a fierce rivalry with Revlon, known as the “lipstick wars.”
Hazel Bishop talked of her life as a “tossed salad,” with its share of ups and downs. She lost her company and the commercial rights to her name because of an unsavory business partner, but moved on to found three new enterprises, inventing a glove cleaner, a foot spray and a perfume stick. She was the first woman to grace the cover of Business Week. Bishop followed with distinctive careers as a stockbroker and analyst for the cosmetics industry, and at 78, she became a department chair at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The fashionable Hazel Bishop, who died in 1998 at the age of 92, loved hats. She swam and played tennis well into her later years, retaining a youthful, peachy complexion (or maybe that was just her makeup). “Women should use makeup to accentuate their most attractive feature,” she advised. “After the age of 25 or thereabouts, personality becomes an increasingly more attractive feature.” Her signature lipstick color was, of course, red.