While women avoided “painting” their faces in the 1900s, they began readily enhancing their features with pigments and tinctures by the 1910s. This new attitude toward makeup was fostered by moving pictures, now feature-length films.
Eye makeup would experience heightened popularity, thanks to actresses like Theda Bara and Mary Pickford, who donned false lashes and eyeshadow on the silver screen. Responding to the surge in cosmetics in Hollywood and at home, companies like Max Factor and Maybelline formed. Launching with its Lash-Brow-Ine masque, which promised to stimulate lash and brow growth, Maybelline exclusively manufactured eye makeup until the 1970s.
A lady could also consult beauty books and guides to concoct at-home “eye tonics,” containing belladonna to dilate the pupil, yellow oxide of mercury to brighten the eyes, and powdered alum and zinc sulfate to enliven dull lids. Lash and brow dyeing was practiced, but the application process could be dangerous. Instead, beauty books advised women to use Vaseline or glycerine, to make tints more colorfast, and India Ink, coal dust, or burnt cork to darken. A fine camel-hair brush functioned as a perfect applicator, and eyebrows were to be conditioned with Vaseline and brushed daily.
Lash-Brow-Ine (American, founded 1912, now Maybelline New York)
Lash-Brow-Ine, ca. 1912
Courtesy of Maybelline New York
D. Appleton and Company (American, founded 1831)
Elizabeth Anstruther (1866–1941)
The Complete Beauty Book, 1912
Eye-Lash-Ine (American, founded 1916)
Eye-Lash-Ine Eyelash Remedy, 1916
Ladies’ Home Journal (American, founded 1883)
Rigaud’s Cosmetic Ad, 1917
Max Factor (American, founded 1909)
Photograph of Max Factor Cosmetic for Eyelash Beading, ca. 1918
Courtesy of Max Factor Archive Collection, Coty Inc.
Graphics: Hulda Thomas Beauty Parlors Advertisement, American Vogue (October 1911); Theda Bara in Salomé (1918); Maybell Laboratories, “American Beauties,” Lash-Brow-Ine Advertisement, American Vogue (July 1919); M. Trilety, “How to Obtain Beautiful, Rich, Long Eyelashes and Brows!” Advertisement, Red Book Magazine (October 1919)