The Fascinating History of Mascara:From Coal Dust to Modern Formulas

The Fascinating History of Mascara: From Coal Dust to Modern Formulas
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For as long as women have had eyelashes, they’ve also been trying to darken them. And while there are plenty of options available today, mascara has a long history that includes everything from crushed insects to coal dust and even modern-day formulas made with titanium dioxide and iron oxides. Here’s how it all began:

Ancient Egyptians used kohl, a dark-hued substance that contained lead oxide and antimony sulfide.

Kohl was made from a mixture of soot and ground galena (lead sulfide). It was used to protect the eyes from the sun, sandstorms and insects. The ancient Egyptians also used kohl as part of their burial rituals; it was believed that when you died, your body would dissolve into its component parts–but your eyes would remain intact because they were protected by kohl!

In the Middle Ages, women used burnt cork as makeup to darken their eyelashes.

This practice was common in Italy and Spain until mascara came along.

In 1770, French chemist Nicolas Leblanc perfected a synthesis of coal tar and sulfuric acid, creating the first commercial coal tar products.

Nicolas Leblanc was a French chemist who perfected a synthesis of coal tar and sulfuric acid, creating the first commercial coal tar products.

Coal tar is an oily liquid produced during the destructive distillation (heating) of coal. It consists primarily of aromatic hydrocarbons with low molecular weight, many containing benzene rings. Coal tars are mixtures rather than pure compounds–they’re made up of dozens or even hundreds of different compounds that vary depending on how they were distilled and what type of coal was used to make them.

Later versions included crushed insects such as dried beetles and ants.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, women used a variety of ingredients to make their eyelashes look longer and thicker. Some were as simple as coal dust or ash from the fireplace. Others were more exotic, like crushed insects such as dried beetles and ants.

In addition to providing color for your lashes, mascara was also seen as an effective way to prevent eye infections–and what better way than by coating them with insect parts? Many cultures around the world have long used insect-based cosmetics for this reason: The Egyptians made kohl (a dark powder sometimes mixed with honey) from lead ore; ancient Greeks applied olive oil mixed with crushed ants onto their faces; Australian aborigines rubbed beeswax on their skin; Native Americans in South America smeared honey on their lips…the list goes on!

In 1834, the first mascara was invented by Eugene Rimmel and sold under his brand name “Maybelline.”

In 1834, the first mascara was invented by French chemist Eugene Rimmel and sold under his brand name “Maybelline.” This brand of cosmetics has been produced in London since its inception, but is now produced in the United States. The name comes from a combination of two sisters’ names: Maybelle and Billie Jean.

Maybelline was the first brand of mascara sold commercially to consumers; it gained popularity quickly due to its ability to lengthen lashes without having any harsh side effects on eyesight or skin health (unlike some early formulas).

Modern mascara formulas include pigments such as titanium dioxide, iron oxides and mica.

Modern mascara formulas include pigments such as titanium dioxide, iron oxides and mica. Titanium dioxide is a white pigment that gives your lashes a brightening effect. Iron oxides are red-yellow or brown pigments that add color to your eyelashes — think of them as natural eye shadows! Mica adds sparkle to the mascara without making it look too glittery or fake-looking.

The history of mascara is fascinating!

Mascara has a rich history, with many innovations and discoveries that have shaped its current form. Did you know that mascara was invented by an ancient Egyptian queen? Or that the first modern mascara formula was created by accident when an actress forgot her makeup on a train ride home?

I’d like to share some of my favorite facts about mascara here:

  • Mascara was invented in Ancient Egypt around 4000 BC by Queen Nefertiti (the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten). She used coal dust mixed with water as eyeliner to darken her eyes and enhance their beauty.
  • The first modern version of this ancient cosmetic product was created accidentally by English actress Sarah Bernhardt while traveling on a train from New York City back home after performing in “Romeo et Juliette.”

Conclusion

The history of mascara is fascinating! We’ve come a long way since the days when women used coal dust and burnt cork to darken their eyelashes, but there are still many unanswered questions about this beauty product. Will we ever discover what it does to our eyes? And what does it mean for the future of beauty if we do?

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