January 11, 1999 12:00 PM

Freelance writer Randa Bishop will never forget, when she was a girl, visiting her aunt Hazel Bishop and trying on the lipsticks she literally cooked up in her Manhattan apartment. “She had a laboratory the size of a large closet,” says Randa, 57. “I had my own collection of every color.”

By the early 1950s, so did thousands of other women. A gifted chemist (she once worked on high-altitude fuels for airplane engines), the never-married Bishop, who died on Dec. 5 at age 92, invented the world’s first kissproof lipstick. Known as Lasting Lipstick, the non-irritating, nondrying cream made its debut in 1950 at $1 a tube and was an instant hit. Soon Hazel Bishop, Inc. had cornered 25 percent of the lipstick market. “Before [Bishop] came along,” says Estée Lauder CEO Leonard Lauder, “no one thought of formula, only of color. It’s because of her that we’re all in business.”

At odds over finances with her majority stockholder, Bishop, a Barnard College grad whose dreams of becoming a doctor had crashed along with the 1929 stock market, sold her company in 1954. She reinvented herself as a stockbroker and financial analyst before becoming an adjunct professor at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology, where she lectured about the cosmetics industry. “Women should accentuate their most attractive feature,” she once offered. “After the age of 25 or so, personality becomes an increasingly attractive feature.”

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