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Whether you're into the drugstore stuff or prefer splurging on pricier designer brands, it's fair to say that mascara is probably most people's favorite beauty basic. After all, we certainly have yet to find a look that isn't perfectly finished off by mile-long, jet-black lashes, courtesy of a few quick swipes. And while the jury might still be out on whether the stuff is actually better than sex, it'd be hard to argue that mascara isn't one of the most ubiquitous tools in any makeup bag. That's why we headed to the Maybelline factory to check out how one of the most iconic products, Great Lash Mascara, is actually made — and to learn more about the concoction's wild history.
Unsurprising, darkened lashes have a rich global tradition stretching through the centuries, though the look was brought to prominence in the West by the Victorians about 200 years ago. Back then, Queen Victoria used her perfumer's extremely DIY recipe of coal dust and petroleum jelly to accentuate her lashes (for the record, we definitely recommend hitting up Sephora instead). In 1915, Maybel Williams confected a similar mixture, inspiring her enterprising brother, Thomas, to package and sell it, complete with a special brush to help coat lashes and brows. Flash forward to 1971, when Maybelline first invented its Great Lash Mascara — a mega-hit product still so popular today that one tube is purchased every two seconds (that's 40,000 sold every day).
Press play above to learn more about the bizarrely mesmerizing process that crafts this cult-favorite mascara. If the Maybelline factory's rigorous testing and super high-tech solar panels prove anything, it's that we've come a long, long way since those dubious days of coal particles and petroleum jelly.