A brief history of mascara

We take a look at how this beauty staple came to be...

Since the dawn of time, women have been looking at how to make their eyelashes longer, darker, thicker and, ultimately, more sultry. So how did mascara come to be our go-to beauty product? We go back in time to find out…

Ancient Egypt

As far back as 4000 BC, there are mentions of kohl and ointments being used on the eyes to darken lashes and brows and protect their eyes from harmful rays. And it wasn’t just women accentuating our lashes to give them batting power. Men regularly styled their lashes too.

Egyptian Makeup

The first ever (non-toxic) mascara

…Was reportedly invented by a Eugène Rimmel for Queen Victoria, made from coal dust and petroleum jelly. And the rest, as they say, is history. Rimmel is now a household name, and is apparently the word for mascara in several different languages. Their newest release, the Volume Colourist Mascara, is perfect for creating stand-out lashes for a dramatic look.

At around the same time in 1913, T.L. Williams created a very similar substance for his sister Maybel (who, incidentally, is the inspiration for the brand name, Maybelline).

The mascara ‘cake’

Rimmel and Williams’ inventions were pretty messy, so an alternative was soon developed. A mascara ‘cake’, made from soap and black dye, was created. It was applied by dampening a brush and rubbing it against the cake, before applying to the lashes – still a long way off the mascara wand we know and love today

The roaring ’20s

It was all about the curled lash in the 20s, with the eyelash curler being the must-have beauty essential in every woman’s make-up bag.  Eyeko’s Black Magic Express Curler will give you the curl you’re looking for and if you use Clinique’s High Impact Curling Mascara afterwards, you’ll end up with the ultimate uplifted lash.

Eyelash curler

The invention of waterproof mascara

Ah, waterproof mascara – we have so much to thank this handy invention for. Emerging in the ’40s, it quickly gained popularity due to being so practical. One of the best ones we’ve found? Lancôme’s Hypnose Drama Waterproof Mascara in black. Come rain, sweat or tears, this one won’t budge until you take it off at the end of the day.

The ’50s and the invention of the mascara wand

In 1957, a woman called Helena Rubenstein completely revolutionised mascara’s formula and packaging. It went from being a hard ‘cake’, to a lotion-based cream that was squeezed onto a brush from a tube.

Over time, the brushes evolved into different shapes and styles and today, there’s more than 30 alternative brushes on the market.

The voluminous lashes of the 60s and 70s.

Arguably the most iconic eyelash look belonged to supermodel, Twiggy, who was rarely spotted without her signature thick bottom lashes.

In 1971, cult beauty buy Maybelline’s Great Lash launched, and it’s still one of our favourites 45 years later – excellent for recreating Twiggy’s bold eyes.


The 2000s

Today, we tend to emphasise our lashes however we like, but lengthened lashes is the most popular option. For long and spidery lashes, Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Eye Mascara in black is a must-have for the final touches to your smokey eye look.

Can’t find your perfect mascara? Head on over to Fabled to shop mascaras, now.

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