Monday, January 16, 2017

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Review: There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to eye makeup.



Take the history of Maybelline. In 2015 the global makeup brand was in the midst of its centennial celebration, complete with multiple star-studded parties But before all the blushes and BB creams, it was about a family company creating cosmetics for the eyes.
Sharrie Williams, an original descendant of the family that started the brand, detailed Maybelline’s rise to popularity and prosperity in her book “The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It."
How well do you know Maybelline? Here are

some fun facts:
■ How it started: In 1915, Mabel Williams burned her eyebrows and lashes. Unsure how long they would take to grow back, she burned a piece of cork, mixed the ashes with petroleum jelly and applied them. The jelly soothed the burn and the ash gave her brows and lashes definition. Her brother, Tom Lyle Williams, noticed how darkening them made her eyes pop, and it gave him an idea for a new kind of makeup.

■ Creating a category: At the turn of the 20th century, eye makeup was mainly worn by silent film stars to highlight their eyes on camera. For most women, options were limited to lipsticks, rouges, creams and powders. With a $500 loan, from his brother Noel J. Williams, Tom Lyle Williams launched a product called Lash-Brow-Ine for “beautifying lashes.” In those early days, it was a cake of black material in a little red box that women applied with a tiny brush. It sold for 25 cents.


■ What’s in a name?: Before Maybelline, there was no name for mascara. The company coined the term in the 1930s as a derivative of the French word mascaro, a product used to darken men’s facial hair.
■ A makeup mainstay is born: In 1971, Maybelline debuted its Great Lash mascara — recognizable for its iconic pink-and-green packaging inspired by fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer’s vibrant hues and prints. It’s been a staple on drugstore shelves and in cosmetics bags ever since. In 2000, a tube was sold every 1.2 seconds, according to brand reports.


■ Advertising king: Quality and affordability aren’t the only reason Maybelline has made its mark. “My great-uncle wanted to be remembered as the king of advertising,” Ms. Williams says.

■ Branching out: By the 1970s, Maybelline was more than just eye makeup. There were lip glosses, blushes and much more. L’Oreal acquired the brand in 1996 and moved it to New York, where it continues to churn out new products and is a regular sponsor at New York Fashion Week.
Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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