Maybelline’s Two Inventions-The History of Eyelashes
It was a century of revolution for eyelashes. The 20th century started with two innovations: a new improved mascara made by Maybelline and new artificial eyelashes.
It seems that, in the early 1900s, in the United States, women were still using domestic products to darken their eyelashes.
Mabel Williams was in the kitchen of her house, one night in 1915, in Chicago, applying an ointment to her eyes to give bright and to darken her eyelashes, with a burnt cork rubbed into Vaseline. It was a trick that she learned from the Photoplay magazine. This trick was precisely what inspired her brother Tom Lyle to make an industrial sequence of that preparation and to offer it to the cosmetic market. Tom Lyle, 19 years old at that time, was working in a mail order business, and he thought that it would be an excellent product to be sold through his catalogue orders. At the beginning, with the help of a chemistry set, he made a mixture of Vaseline, carbon black, cottonseed oil and safflower oil, but it didn’t work properly.
Trying to improve that formula, he asked for technical assistance to an important drug manufacturer, Park Davis. The final product the laboratory obtained was a cream based in refined white petroleum with several selected oils to give sheen to eyelashes and eyebrows. It didn’t have yet any colouring agent. The product was promoted “to give bright to the eyes and to stimulate the eyelashes growth”. At that time people believed that petroleum jelly and lanoline helped to hair growth. The name for the brand he chose was “Lash-Brow-Ine”, and in 1917 it was offered through his mail order catalogue business, in two sizes of fifty cents and one dollar, by “Maybell Laboratories”. With his brother Noel’s investment he started an important promotion in magazines and newspapers.
In 1920, Tom Lyle Williams had to change the product’s name, because of an appeal in the court made by Benjamin Ansehl, owner of the trademark “Lash-Brown Laboratories”.