humorpop culture
Mascara For The Gods: The History of Make-up
Part Two: The Modern World

page 2

The 1870s in Poland brought another innovator to the world of modern cosmetics, Helena Rubinstein. The oldest of eight children, she briefly studied medicine in Switzerland and immigrated to Australia in 1902. She noticed that Australian women had rough reddish faces that required cosmetic attention. She opened a modest shop in Melbourne, where she dispensed her "crème Valaze" and instructed women individually on how to care for their skin. She worked long hours and her shop prospered. In 1908 she traveled to London with $100,000 to start what would become an international organization.

cosmetic techniqueShe married an American journalist and lived in Paris until the outbreak of World War One. At this time she moved to America and opened beauty salons throughout the country, where her skin care and creams were in very high demand. Major department stores all clamored to sell her products. She was a brilliant innovator in developing her business so that it required routines and women. She trained her sales people to instruct skin care and devised a diet plan for beauty as well. She understood and appreciated the value of advertising and made full use of it. In 1957 she introduced the "Mascaramatic," the very first automatic, no- water- needed version of mascara as women know it today.

In 1915, a gentleman named T.L. Williams founded The Maybelline Company. As the story goes, his brand of mascara was brought to the masses after he watched his older sister, Mabel, apply her secret beauty trick to her lashes. He was struck by the idea that other women might not only be interested in her concoction, but also be willing to pay for it. Mabel’s magic formula was either a mixture of petroleum jelly and coal dust or just plain petroleum jelly to which her brother added a darkening agent when he began to sell his "Lash-Brow-line" through his own mail-order catalogue.

mascaraEarly sales were very slow. In 1915, T.L. Williams changed the name of the product to Maybelline in honor of his sister, Mabel and a base ingredient of the new product, Vaseline petroleum jelly. The product was served up in a cake form and came with a tiny brush, which needed to be wet. Rubbing the brush back and forth across the cake, the product was then stroked into the lashes and allowed to dry. Early cake mascaras were made mainly of beeswax, the wax of the carnauba palm and a coloring agent.

No history of cosmetics could be complete without the mention of Charles Revson, creator of Revlon Cosmetics and of Estee Lauder and Hazel Bishop.

cosmetic brushesBorn in Boston in 1906 and miffed that he didn’t land the job of national distributor in the cosmetics firm where he worked, Revson convinced his brother and a chemist friend, Charles Lachman, to launch their own business. They specialized in nail polishes in a greater variety of colors than was available elsewhere and sold them first through salons and then through department stores. Eventually, they introduced matching lipsticks with exotic names for the colors. Who can forget "cherries in the snow" red? To this day, it is available unchanged as it was originally created. Despite his difficult personality, the business was a phenomenal success under his leadership, first as president and then as chairman.

In the same year that Charles Revson was born, a lady named Hazel Bishop made her entrance into the world in Hoboken, New Jersey. She worked as a chemist with the Standard Oil Development Company and in 1949, after a long series of home experiments, perfected a lipstick that stayed on the lips longer than any other product available at the time. The following year she formed Hazel Bishop, Inc. to manufacture her "Lasting" also known as "Kissable" lipstick. The lipstick was a great success and other manufacturers soon introduced similar products.

Josephine Estelle Mentzner was the daughter of immigrants who lived above her father’s hardware store in Corona, a section of Queens in New York City. Estee was her nickname and she married into Lauder. She began her multi-million dollar enterprise in 1946 in beauty shops, beach clubs and resorts by selling skin creams concocted by her uncle who was a chemist.
Simply speaking, she outworked everyone else in the cosmetics industry. She stalked the bosses of New York City department stores until she got some counter space at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1948. Secure in that position, she utilized a personal selling approach that proved to be as potent as the promise of her skin regimens and perfumes. Even after 40 years in business, Estee Lauder would attend every launch of a new cosmetics counter or shop, traveling as far away as Moscow and other Eastern European cities. Only declining health has slowed her down.

The beat goes on, not only for Sonny and Cher, but also for L’Oreal, Lancôme and a host of other cosmetics lines that have proved successful in today’s marketplace. In short, there are many ways to put on "a new coat of paint" and the art is as old as time itself. So keep painting, ladies and don’t ever forget that even though clothes may make the man, cosmetics make the woman!

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humor pop culture
Culture is one thing and varnish another
R.W. Emerson, Journals, 1868

In the room, the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo
T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

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