12 Eye-Opening Facts About Mascara

Updated 10/06/17

Mascara is one of those miracle cosmetics we couldn’t live without. It also happens to be a surprisingly rich source of makeup trivia. Keep reading to learn all about the eyelash-enhancing must-have!

mascara facts

1. Eugéne Rimmel, a French perfumer and cosmetics inventor, created the first mascara in the 1830s. His invention became so popular that still to this day, the term “rimmel” translates to the word “mascara” in several languages, including French, Portuguese, Romanian, Turkish, and Arabic. 

Rimmel technically invented the first mascara, but 19-year-old Chicagoan, Tom Lyle Williams, created the first modern, mass-market variety. Williams’ first product was called Lash-Brow-ine, but he later changed it to Maybelline Cake Mascara. The name Maybelline was a combination of the product’s base ingredient, Vaseline, and the name of the woman who inspired it, his sister Mabel.

3. Maybelline Great Lash ($6), arguably the most recognizable and highest rated mascara of all time, was introduced in 1971. Over 40 years later, the iconic green and pink packaging remains.

4. Many mascaras are made with an ingredient called guanine. The colorant is derived from fish scales—that’s what gives mascara its shine.

5. Egyptians used kohl to darken their eyelashes, and they added honey and crocodile stool to it to keep this early version of mascara from running. 

6. Mascara was the first cosmetic on the market to get waterproofed. In 1938, waterproof mascara hit shelves. Unfortunately, it was 50-percent turpentine, and it took a couple of decades for a better alternative to come along. 

7. The reason most women instinctively open their mouths when applying mascara? It’s actually easier not to blink when your mouth is open. 

8. Revlon was the first to introduce mascara housed in a tube. Their product featured a wand with a spiral tip on the end. In 1958, the company’s Roll-On Mascara sold for $2.00.

9. In 1960, Revlon makes history again. This time, it’s with their Brush-On Mascara, the first colored mascara. Max Factor quickly follows with their own version.

10. The Food and Drug Administration reports that the most common makeup-related injury is scratching the eye with a mascara wand.

11. In the 1930s, a product called Lash Lure was marketed in the United States as a permanent mascara. By 1933, the dye used on eyelashes was seized by Congress, due to the fact that it blinded more than a dozen women and even killed another. Five years after the Lash Lure incident, Congress granted the Food and Drug Administration the right to regulate cosmetics.

12. Of all the makeup on the market, mascara has the shortest lifespan of about three to five months. And all of those mascara wands add up—the average woman will spend $3,770 on mascara in her lifetime.

Which of these eye-opening mascara facts surprised you the most? 

Related Stories