The 20th Century-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”.