Mascara, that magical wand we wave to enhance our gateways to our souls. It defines our lashes by adding length, color, thickness, and or curl. It is something today we can safely trust to add to our daily make-up ritual but it has not always been this way as it has a very dangerous past.
Today many formulas are made of a combination of pigments, oils, waxes, preservatives, nylon and rayon to achieve a variety of results but in the past it was a treacherous and messy process of mixing kohl, minerals, crocodile stool, honey, Vaseline jelly, natural juices and a variety of other household products to ornate our eyes. Some even experimented with the permanently dying of their lashes that left them blind. Fortunately, today we have government regulations monitoring these products to make sure they are safe to apply.
It is also worth noting urban legend had said mascara companies were using bat guano as an ingredient. This originated from an actual ingredient guanine, not guano, which is a color additive that is extracted from fish scales not bat guano.
Again this make-up trend started in Egypt;
- 4000 BC Egypt used a substance called kohl to darken eyelashes, eyes, and eyebrows. Believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the soul, but also to protect their eyes in the harsh desert environment.
- 753 BC in Rome it was on fleek to have long, thick and curled lashed. This was achieved with kohl and burnt cork. It was also important to maintain their lashes as rumor had it your lashes would fall out from excessive sex and women wanted to keep their chastity intact.
- The Middle East continued to ornate their eyes for many generations as the trend headed out west but died again during the Middle/Medieval Ages as the forehead was considered to be the erotic feature on a woman’s face, many would remove their eyelashes and eyebrows. I hope this look never comes back.
- The Victorian Era (1837-1901) saw a rise to cosmetics as social opinion shifted once again toward the promotion of cosmetics. Women would spend many hours at home working on their beauty regime as many would create their own type of mascara at home by mixing and heating ash, Vaseline and elderberry juice on a plate.
- 1916 – False eyelashes made from real human hair makes it’s onscreen debuted in the film Intolerance. Cosmetics are not popular in the mass market but left for use by male and female actors.
- 1917 – Eugene Rimmel, House of Rimmel, created the product we recognize today using petroleum jelly in Europe. This product was a messy process which involved using a damp brush over a solid cake of black dye and soap. But this advancement made rimmel a very popular word and to this day, the word rimmel means mascara in many languages. Also around this time in the United States T. L Williams created a similar product for his sister Mabel with Vaseline, he managed to market the product in a superior way and eventually created the company Maybelline (word combination of Mabel and Vaseline) which is still known for their mascara today.
- 1930 – Many women became blind and one women died as they tried a permenant mascara. Shortly after the FDA steped in and now regulates make-up products.
- 1931 – The eyelash curler called the “Kurlash” was invented.
- 1933 – Mascara was finally being sold in drugstores for 10-cents.
- 1938 – Waterproof mascara is invented after actress Helene Winterstein was fed up with the mascara running down her face under the hot glare of stage lights.
- 1957 – Helena Rubinstein, created the lotion-based cream mascara, this was squeezed onto a brush that was provided, still a messy process but progress again. Later she improved this again with leaving the cream in a tube the brush was dipped into, aprocess we are all familiar with today.
- 1966 – Twiggy gave us the fashion craze of painting on long lashes directly under our lower lash lid.
- 1990 – Saw the trend of hair mascara as rainbow bright hues were versatile for the lashes to our hair.
- 2009 – Latisse arrives, a prescription to treat inadequate eyelashes, this product helps lashes longer, thicker and darker.
Today we have massive flexibility with the products on the market and we can do whatever want. The technology has advanced so far that our tubes of the product can vibrate, twist, comb or color our lashes to however we want. Eyelash customization is endless, just what customers want with our make-up to help us stand out from the crowd.
Mascara has a vibrant and rich history. I anticipate in the future we will always embrace our lashes as they have a functional purpose to save our eyes from dust and so the staple black mascara will be in every make-up bag but the decorative and creative mascara products will have unlimited possibilities as make-up houses cater to trying to customize a mass market.
My go to black mascara is Buxom Lash Mascara to give me the ultra volume and fuller lashes. But I do love playing with color. What is your fav?
Did I miss out on anything?
Thanks for reading I will post the History of Blush next week!
Some of the dates are approximate as many sites had conflicting information, but I tried my best to give you a well-rounded history of Mascara.