When this box of Winx Mascara was made in the late 1920s, mascara was a relatively new product. Though the idea goes back to ancient times – think Cleopatra - it was not until the 19th century that a commercial form of lash darkener was made. Eugene Rimmel took the newly developed petroleum jelly and added coal dust. That gave the desired effect, but was, as you might imagine, a bit messy.
In Victorian and Edwardian times, makeup was still not universally accepted, but silent films with their glamorous actresses, brought about a huge interest in cosmetics. The exotic Theda Bara and Pola Negri with their dark and smoldering eyes set a new vision of beauty.
In 1915 T.L. Williams started making a similar product here in the US after seeing his sister Maybel concoct a Vaseline and coal dust mascara. He marketed his mascara under the name Maybelline (Maybel +
Vaseline) and in 1917, developed a mascara in cake form. Cake mascara was basically soap with black dye added. It was a huge improvement over the old petroleum jelly type, and although there were liquid mascaras marketed through the years, it was not until Helena Rubinstein developed one in 1958 that the cake mascara began to lose favor.
Even in the late 1960s you could still buy the little red plastic boxes of Maybelline cake mascara. I can remember using it when I first started wearing (or actually sneaking around and wearing) mascara in 7th grade. It was super cheap, and easy to hide, and it did quite well if you added enough water to get a good mix. But that was the real problem – you had to have a source of water. Still, I sort of miss those little boxes.
I found this great box with unused mascara at the Hillsville flea market last weekend. I don’t normally buy cosmetics unless the packaging is this wonderful. I really could not resist!
And, just for fun, a 1924 Maybelline ad:
Now THAT’S some lashes!