Eye Fashion: 1900s to Now

The eyes are said to be a window into the soul of a person. We are naturally attracted to the gaze of an individual when we see it, so the look of the eye will either enhance or detract from that original attraction. This applies to both men and women. With the right eye fashion, it becomes easier to communicate.

For centuries, dark coloration from natural materials was often used to create a striking look. Dyes, ground coal, and other natural items were mixed together to achieve specific looks. It is this foundation that eye fashion was built upon from the 1900s until today.

Early Eye Fashion in the 20th Century

For the first decade of the 1900s, mascara was a product that was often made at home. Women would collect the black soot that came from candles that were lighting their home and mixing it with a paint that was safe to apply to the skin. This soot was also extensively used for eye shadow needs as well.

In 1909, the London Ballet put on a performance that included the heavy use of eye shadows and mascara. The look was so dramatic and attractive to everyone who saw the performance that it inspired the sale of products that could be used in the home to duplicate the look. The sales were so high, in fact, that commercial manufacturing of eye fashion products could begin just a year later.

Black was still the most popular color, but in 1910 and beyond, the wealthier classes began to look for coordinating colors. Golds and silvers were produced to complement eveningwear at the time, giving women (and some men) the option of coordinating their makeup with their outfit.

Post-War Eyelashes and Men’s Hair Dye

After World War I, a hair dye for men became a popular eyelash product for women. Originally called “Mascaro,” this is where our term “mascara” originated. The purpose of mascara was more of a hair dye or tint originally, but would eventually evolve into a temporary application in the 1920s thanks to Max Factor.

By 1935, the eyelash curler and brush had been invented and offered to the mass market. This, in combination with eyelash pencils and other makeup tools that were invented in the 1920s, giving women the chance to achieve their favorite look with ease. Even the financial difficulties of the Great Depression didn’t suppress the appetite for mascara and other products.

Modern Eye Fashion for Today

Eye fashion today is based on certain discoveries and inventions that made makeup products more accessible to the average user.

1939: The first practical mascara brush was invented by a shoe polisher. Until his claim ran out, this product was not developed.

1971: The first water-based mascara is introduced.

1980s: False eyelashes are introduced. Waterproof products, metallic colors, glitter, and bright colors increase choice. Feathers, crystals, and other “fantasy” items are introduced. Gels, cream-based eyeshadow, and non-smearing products become popular.

Although there are many more choices available today, the history of eye fashion in the 1900s is based on the classic dark and shadowy look.

What is your favorite color of eye shadow? Do you have any application tips to share?

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