Attention! Time for another historical makeup class. This time, mascara is in the spotlights. It’s the alltime favorite makeup item of women. It’s the tiny weird brush that women use to men. Let’s dive into the history of this tiny weird brush!

Personal mascara history

After the red marker episode, I became older and wiser and decided that I would only play around with products that are actually meant to put on your face. Mascara is the first thing you start playing around with. In the late ’90s/early ’00s, the good old green/pink “Great Lash” mascara of Maybelline ruled my beauty case. Nowadays, I don’t have a specific preference for a brand. I like to try out new innovations (on and off the makeup department). For now, I am in a steady relationship with L’oreal. Mascara is like a cherry on the eye makeup topping. It makes you look awake, when you’ve binge-watched yourself into the night. Just add mascara and it solves your sleepy eyes problems.

Worldwide mascara history

Once again, the ancient Egyptians were setting the trend. In this case, they used bones and ivory as mascara applicators and the mascara was made of of kohl, crocodile dung, water and honey. Just like eyeliner, mascara was initially used by Egyptian men and women to protect their eyes against the sun and the evil eye. It wasn’t until 1830, that mascara became popular and was purely being used for cosmetic reasons. Entering the Victorian era where Victorian women spend hours in front of the mirror, dressing up and making themselves beautiful. Some beauty rituals could take days. Yes, you’ve read that right: days. Ain’t nobody got time for that, right now. Well, at least I don’t.

Also read:  History of makeup - Chapter 1: Eyeliner

However, back then they did. Probably because they didn’t have the possibility to binge-watch on Netflix or scroll down their facebook timeline and check out some new cats-rule-your-house home videos. One way or another, they had tons of time. Victorian women made most products like eyeliner, mascara and rosebud salves at home with their own ingredients. However, their homemade beauty recipes were never marketed and therefore never publicly sold by makeup brands. And then there was petroleum jelly. An invention that would lead to the mascara as we – we as in women – all know it today. The very first “cake” mascara with petroleum jelly and black kohl (coal dust) was produced in the 19th century by Eugene Rimmel.  Around the same time a man named T. L. Williams, produced a similar substance for his sister Maybel (whose name would inspire him to set up the company Maybelline). The first cake mascara was an invention indeed, but things could get messy. Literally. To apply the mascara you had to rub a slightly dampened brush against a cake substance, including soap, petroleum jelly and black coal. And ofcourse you had to rub the right way. Equal proportions of the ingredients had to be transferred on the brush and applied on the lashes. Helena Rubinstein saved the day with another invention in 1957: the lotion-based mascara And the rest is history..

Also read:  About those size (double) standards then and now...

But wait, don’t go away yet. I didn’t tell you about the invention of waterproof mascara. I don’t like it, so I don’t use it (and bravely risque the panda eyes look). But a lot of women are probably very happy with it. What would they do on their wedding day or any other day that involves tears? In the mid-1920s and early 1930s waterproof mascara was invented.  However, this waterproof mascara was not very safe. One of the ingredients (50% of the product), was turpentine. If it doesn’t sound healthy, it’s probably not healthy. Back then, it caused a lot of skin allergies. Besides this, the mascara had a very unpleasant scent. It wasn’t until the early 1960s, the MOD era, when waterproof mascara became safe for use. Back to the present: Reformulated over and over again and so much brands to choose from…

great lash mascara 70s

Pictures via Creative Commons, in appearing order: Winx mascara ad, 1925 via Clotho98 and Maybelline Great Lash mascara ad, 1970s  via Twitchery

Note: This post does not include a complete history of mascara I only included some historical highlights in this blogpost that I found interesting.

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