In ancient Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 B.C., the Egyptians used kohl on their eyelashes, eyebrows and to line their eyes. That is the earliest form of mascara and eyeliner. Charcoal or soot was probably used with malachite and lead sulfite to make kohl.
Mascara as we know it originated in 1913, from the chemist who started Maybelline. Back then, it was a mixture of coal dust and petroleum jelly.
These days, many women would not leave home without mascara. You can do without foundation, blusher, or even lipstick but if your lashes are pale, you need mascara. Many women, have pale lashes or do not feel naked without mascara.
Modern-day mascara uses mainly carbon for the black pigment in mascara while iron oxide is used for the brown pigments. In the U.S., the use of coal and tar pigments in eye makeup is forbidden.
Most mascara formulations today are made of oil, water, and waxes, like beeswax, carnauba wax, or paraffin. On top of the basics, other ingredients are added to the mascara formula for different effects. For example, fibers are added to lash-building mascaras.
Then there are the waterproof mascaras, those that make your lashes fuller, or add intensity to your lashes. Besides the formulation, the secret of a mascara’s performance lies in the brush. It is the formulation and the brush of the mascara that gives the desired effect.