A little history of mascara!

Back in the day - like 3500 B.C. - that 'back in the day', men in Egypt used a mix of kohl and ointments to darken the lashes, which also served as protection for their eyes from the sun's harmful rays.

Women used malachite on their lashes but that was because they believed it worked as an aphrodisiac, no really!

The women of ancient Rome used kohl and burnt cork to darken their eyelashes to look attractive and also since the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote that lashes fell out from excessive sex - seriously - women would also look after them to prove their chastity.

During the Middle Ages the forehead was considered to be the most beautiful and erotic feature of a woman's face so to further emphasize it, so women often removed either most or all of their eyelashes and eyebrows. Yikes! no accounting for fashion whenever the time huh?

Enter Queen Elizabeth - she was all the vogue with her reddish-golden hair, so the trend was for women to dye their eyelashes the same shade. This was achieved through using crushed berries and soot from the fireplace to match. You can imagine this proved to be quite a toxic mix and most often resulted in hair loss. They would have looked very 'Middle Ages' Ha!

The first mascara was developed by Eugène Rimmel (yes, that Rimmel), he was a perfumer to Queen Victoria, and his 'mascara' concoction was primarily comprised of coal dust and Vaseline jelly.

But the first modern mascara was created by a 19-year-old entrepreneur named Thomas Lyle Williams in 1915. He noticed that his older sister Mabel applying a mixture of Vaseline and coal dust to her eyelashes to give them a darker, fuller look. So he adapted it with a chemistry set and produced a product called Lash-Brow-Ine. He named his eye product Maybelline in her honor. In 1917, the company produced Maybelline Cake Mascara, "the first modern eye cosmetic for everyday use”.

It was reported that in 1916, fake eyelashes were invented by American film director David W. Griffith to create a fluttering lash effect for silent film actresses. But they didn't really become popular until the 1930s.

In 1933, a woman known on court records as Mrs. Brown consented to have her eyelashes permanently dyed. Unfortunately, the product, used para-phenylenediamine, a chemical extremely toxic to the body, as the dyeing agent. Needless to say the results were a disaster

At the time, cosmetics were unregulated by the Federal Drug Administration, and the dangers of paraphenylenediamine were unknown. The next morning, Mrs. Brown’s eyes had developed ulcers which oozed and had swollen shut. Use of the product resulted in blindness in Mrs. Brown and fifteen other women and also caused the death of another.

It was only after this incident and several others like it, documented in Ruth deForest Lamb’s book entitled American Chamber of Horrors, that Congress granted the FDA the right to regulate cosmetics in 1938

Revlon were the first to introduce the first mascara package in a tube with a spiral-tip wand in 1958.

Modern mascara gained popularity only after relentless promotion and marketing by Helena Rubinstein, one of the richest women of 20th century. Her influence, and constant promotions by various movie actresses of 1930s ,40s and 50s made mascara socially acceptable in any situation, and important part of almost every fashion style.

The beauty of your lashes today is that they can be whatever you want them to be.

With such an amazing array of technology at your finger tips, from lash hair extensions to faux fur falsies, as well as a million different mascaras in every shade! And with the technology to have wands that curve, vibrate, taper, or comb to your heart's desire. There's a product for everyone! My favorite currently is our Lash Esteem Mascara used with our new Lash Primer - it really conditions and separates the lashes for a great mascara look. For more Va, Va Voom use the 4D mascara!

Geraldine Scott