History of Mascara

A simple history and overview of probably the most applied cosmetic next to lipstick for most women. Many will refuse to walk out the door without a little sweep of mascara and curl of the lash.

With over a 6000 year long history, the first known use and application of mascara is attributed to the Egyptians. They not only used it in vain but also for protection as it would keep the dust away from the eyes, and help to shield them from the direct sunlight. Their recipes contained everything from burning almonds to using lead, while the combination of crocodile feces and honey were used to add colour to the lashes.

The Romans idealized long dark lashes because they were a sign of chastity. They believed that the more sex you had the more lashes you would lose. They used charred rose petals and soot on their lashes.

It was a man in Persia who recognized the lucrative opportunity in creating a mascara, so he opened a cosmetology school where he began teaching women how to formulate their own mascara's out of soot.

The Renaissance women used crushed walnuts to dye their lashes darker, while the Victorian women would use a blend of ashes and elderberries to darken theirs.

Then came the cosmetics companies, a noteworthy mention goes to Maybelline and Rimmel, who were the first to come out with the Cake Mascara; wetting your brush on a piece of coal and petroleum jelly and then applying it to the lashes.

Many formula's, colours, and brush technologies later, the longer the lashes the more desirable we still seem to think we will be. Sometimes the more things change, the more they remain the same.


(last two slides: Frank Bernard Dicksee, Benoit Courti)