The Shocking History of Mascara
Posted by Ivory Bella in Makeup
Mascara, that constant bestie of ours, always there in our time of need! Through the good times, when it keeps our lashes curled and lifted, and even in bad times, when it runs and smudges after watching the beginning of ‘Up’ for the 20th time. It’s a travelling companion, a work colleague, and our partner in crime. But it wasn’t always like that. Our magic wand of wonders has come a long way, through the makeup bags of many, to land in our laps today. It all started with the Egyptians, and some crocodile dung.
Yes indeed, the Ancient Egyptians were very creative, using crocodile dung, water, and honey to produce the first mascara. They applied the paste with carved bone and ivory applicators. Believing that the eyes were the windows to the soul, they covered their lashes for protection against evil spirits and bad juju. Both men and women alike wore this coveted soul protector.
The Romans continued the tradition of dark lashes for religious reasons. They believed that copulation and promiscuity caused lashes to fall out. Long, thick lashes were considered a sign of chastity. In order to prove they were pure, or to mask any signs that they weren’t, Roman women used an array of soot, ashes, antimony, charred flower petals, and date pits to darken their lashes. Victorian women later followed suit, dabbling with concoctions mixed together in their dressing rooms. Vanity was their main reason for applying mascara, and ladies would often spend all day in their private parlours perfecting their beauty looks. They too used soot, but added elderberry, to create their mascara. At least it wasn’t crocodile dung.
Mascara became more modernized in the 1900’s, when it came in a pressed cake. The cake was moistened, either with water or spit, and applied with a brush to the lashes. The ingredients were typically black pigment mixed with soap. One of our beauty heroes, Eugene Rimmel, founder of Rimmel cosmetics, created the first packaged mascara in 1917. It was made with a mix of black coal dust and gooey petroleum jelly. By the 1960’s, the first mascara wand was introduced, making it a breeze for any boho gal to gain access to the coveted doe-eyed look. The grooved rod picked up a consistent amount of product when pulled from a tube. Thankfully, brush soon replaced the rod, which may explain the ensuing popularity of mascara in the late 1960’s. We’re so glad, where would we be without Twiggy’s signature look?