Saturday, 24 November 2012

Masterclass - The History of Mascara

Other than foundation the holy grail is mascara, one that makes lashes look darker, thicker, longer and defined. The early mascaras date back the Egyptian times where eye areas were darker to ward off dark spirits. It didn't back into fashion in Europe until the Victorian era. Victorian ladies of leisure would make their own mixture; would heat a mixture of ash or lampblack and elderberry juice on a plate and apply the heated mixture to their eyelashes.

The first commerical mascara was developed by Eugene Rimmel using a new product called Petroleum jelly, his name is still linked with mascara as in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Romanian, and Persian it is translated as mascara. Mr Rimmel is also the founder of Rimmel London (then Known as the House of Rimmel) and was owned by the family until 1949.

Over the water a little later in 1913, another mascara empire was starting. T. L. Williams was creating something similar for his sister Maybel, which planted the seeds for the company Maybelline. Both formulations were messy and not easy to use.

It wasn't until Helena Rubinstein, a shrewd business woman, saw the popularity that this product was getting and started to develop (alongside her rival Elizabeth Arden). After the First World War, consumers were eager to try new products and this is where Rubinstein launched her range including mascara cake that is applied by wetting the material and applying with a brush.

Years later in 1957, Rubinstein created a formula that evolved mascara from a hard cake into a lotion-based cream. The packaging of the new mascara was in a tube sold with a brush. For use, the cream was squeezed onto the brush and applied to lashes.

The modern mascara we see today was soon evolved, the device picked up the same amount of mascara for each use. Then the grooved rod was altered to the brush similar to the ones used today. The change in applicator led mascara to be even easier to use, and so starts the hunt for the perfect mascara.

Next week - Using mascara


  1. Wow, what an interesting post. Thanks for the info :)

    Elle xx

  2. Great post - satisfies my love of history AND make up all at the same time!
    I'm working on some makeup through the decades posts at the moment, had so much fun researching them!

    1. I'm really enjoying reading the history as well, that's why I wanted to add it on - If I found it interested they you guys must do to.


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