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A Look at the History of MAYBELLINE and GREAT LASH

By Tyler Malone

October 2011

Maybe we were born with it? Make-up, that is.

No, we weren’t, but cosmetics have been with us since the infancy of our species. From the beginning of recorded history, we have evidence to prove that almost every human civilization has used make-up in some capacity or other. There is archeological evidence that shows us that the Ancient Greeks and Romans used cosmetics, as did the Chinese and the Egyptians. A bust of Nefertiti from around 1,320 BC shows that the wife of the Pharoah wore eyeliner. Of course, back then, the compounds used to make make-up were often toxic (using things such as lead, antimony and mercury). But Nefertiti was certainly not the first person to get people wondering: Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s…mercury. There is evidence that points to the origins of cosmetics being somewhere between 10,000 and 4,000 BC. It’s so old, it’s impossible to place an exact time that we can say was the beginning of the use of make-up.

Though Egyptians used a substance called Kohl to darken the eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows, the modern day product known as mascara didn’t exist in its current form until the nineteenth century. Eugene Rimmel, a French chemist, created the first non-toxic commercial mascara using the newly invented substance petroleum jelly. His influence on the product can still be seen today, as the English word “mascara” translates to “rimmel” (or a derivative thereof) in many languages, including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, etc.

But Rimmel wasn’t alone in his attempts at creating a cosmetic product to enhance the beauty of women’s eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows. In the early 1900s, T. L. Williams invented a mascara for his sister Maybel. Originally called Lash-Brow-Ine, this was the product that spawned the company Maybelline (a portmanteau of his sister’s name Maybel and Vaseline, an ingredient in the original make-up product). In 1917, Maybelline produced Maybelline Cake Mascara, which has been called “the first modern eye cosmetic for everyday use.”

Maybelline grew to become one of the leading cosmetics brand the world-over.

And in 1971, 40 years ago, the company introduced a new mascara to the world. It came in a pink tube with a green cap, and it was called Great Lash. In the years since, Great Lash has become iconic. Not only is the name synonymous with mascara, but the iconic pink-and-green color palette of the packaging has become synonymous with beauty.

So this month, PMc Magazine is celebrating 40 years of Great Lash, and almost a century of wondering: Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.


Maybelline’s Official Site

Maybelline’s Tumblr

Written by Tyler Malone

Great Lash Historical Ads Courtesy of Maybelline New York

Design by Marie Havens

Special Thanks to Sara Younger, Julia Murphree, and entire Maybelline New York team!


Pages 1/Cover:

Great Lash Historical Ad Grid: Great Lash Launch Ad, 1971, Courtesy of Maybelline New York & Great Lash Ad, 1970’s, Courtesy of Maybelline New York

Page 2:

(Left) Great Lash Launch Ad, 1971, Courtesy of Maybelline New York, (Right) Great Lash Ad, 1970’s, Courtesy of Maybelline New York

Page 3:

Great Lash Blackest Black Mascara, 2002, Courtesy of Maybelline New York

Page 4:

(Eyelash crop) from Great Lash Ad, 1970’s, Courtesy of Maybelline New York

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