Monday, August 3, 2015

The Mysteries of Lashneen

I love old makeup ads, and even though I don't wear much makeup these days I do like having it on hand for special occasions and find all the different types of cosmetics quite fascinating.

I tend to concentrate on mascara and eyebrow pencil these days, because I have dark blonde hair and that means colorless eyelashes and very light brows. This is not a good look, so at the very least I do try to fill in my brows.

The ad on the right is from 1917 and tells us the wonders of something called Lashneen. I did a little research and found it mentioned in newspaper ads from about 1913 to 1921.


Lashneen will turn even someone pale like me into a veritable Theda Bara. It was marketed as a "hair food" rather than as makeup but the picture is pretty misleading because the lady in the top ad is definitely feeding her eyelashes and brows a ton of mascara and eyeliner, not hair food.

The ad to the left is from 1920 and this model's eyes look a little more natural. She was Sylvia Breamer, an Australian silent movie actress who was 23 in 1920 and starring in her first Hollywood movie, Athalie. She is quoted as saying that Lashneen made her eyelashes "so beautiful [that] my friends often remark about it."

The Sylvia Breamer ad  also says that Lashneen is a "secret Japanese formula" and (of course, they always say this) "absolutely harmless."

Yeah, okay. So what was in Lashneen, exactly? I always want to know. This article is quite a good discussion of the eyelash and eyebrow products of this era, which were all made of the same sorts of things They also had similarly clunky names like Lashbrow, Lash-Brow-Ine and Eye-Brow-Ine.* Apparently, Lashbrow consisted of vaseline, beeswax and lampblack. Lashneen was no doubt quite similar. Which I guess was fairly harmless, but still - lampblack doesn't sound like something you ought to put near your eyes, does it?

* Maybelline, which also started up in the 1920s, used the same fashionable "ine" suffix. Maybelline is my favorite brand of mascara, by the way. It is really good and I have always had a tube on hand since I was in college. But not the same tube, of course.




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