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10 Facts About Mascara (to Help You Lash Out)

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Women—and men—have been adorning their eyelashes since 4000 BCE when ancient Egyptians used everything from kohl to burnt almonds to darken their fringe. To make sure it stayed put, they used substances such as honey and (ick!) crocodile dung. So, yeah, your favorite lengthening, volumizing, and curling formula has come a long way. Coat on a few layers of knowledge with these fun facts.

1. IN ANCIENT EGYPT, IT MAY HAVE HELPED STAVE OFF INFECTION.


For ancient Egyptians, kohl eye makeup (makeshift mascaras included) served several purposes. In addition to looking cool, it supposedly invited protection from the gods Horus and Ra, kept the sun out of one's eyes, and, according to French researchers, may have helped improve opthalmological health. It turns out the powders wearers piled on contained trace amounts of lead salts, which, instead of being harmful, actually helped boost immunological response to bacteria.

2. MODERN MASCARA HAS BEEN AROUND FOR NEARLY TWO CENTURIES.

French perfumer and cosmetics inventor Eugéne Rimmel (yes, that Rimmel) created the first modern formula in the 1830s. His invention became so synonymous with the lash-boosting product that “rimmel” is the word for “mascara” in many languages, including Portuguese, Romanian, and Turkish.

3. A TEENAGE BOY CREATED THE FIRST MASS-MARKET VARIETY.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1915, 19-year-old Chicagoan Tom Lyle Williams noticed his sister Mabel applying a mix of Vaseline and coal dust to her lashes to make them darker and fuller after a kitchen accident singed them off. Using a chemistry set, he co-opted her formula to produce Lash-Brow-Ine. After a competitor, Lash Brow, sued him for copyright infringement, he later changed it to Maybelline Cake Mascara (like all early formulas, it came in a tin and was applied with a brush), combining the name of the product’s base and his sister’s moniker. It was the first product from the cosmetics giant.

4. PERFECT LASHES WERE WORTH DYING FOR.

A so-called permanent mascara dubbed Lash Lure was created in 1933. But the dye was banned after it killed one woman and blinded more than a dozen others. Five years later, Congress granted the Food and Drug Administration the right to regulate cosmetics.

5. THE FIRST WATERPROOF FORMULA CAUSED A FEW TEARS.

Created in 1938, it was comprised of about 50 percent turpentine. In addition to smelling awful, it caused red, itchy, injured eyes.

6. INNOVATIONS BEGAN TO, ER, ROLL IN DURING THE 1950s.

In 1957, Helena Rubinstein introduced the Mascara-Matic, which was a pen-like device that opened up, revealing a slim metal applicator with grooves on it. As you pulled out the rod, mascara was wiped off—except for the mascara caught in the wand's grooves. (The price tag: $2 plus tax.) Three years later, Maybelline launched their Ultra Lash Mascara, the first mass-market version using the brush-in-tube system we still use today.

7. THERE'S STILL SOME WEIRD STUFF IN MASCARA.

Most contain a substance called guanine, which is made from ground-up fish scales. It gives mascara its shine. There are also trace amounts of mercury, which acts as a germ-killer and preservative. In 2013, the United Nations excluded mascara and other eye makeup from the ban on mercury in cosmetics and soaps. The reason: there are “no effective safe substitute alternatives” available for the chemical. Don’t worry; it’s not enough mercury to harm you or your lashes.

8. YOU SHOULD OPEN WIDE FOR THE BEST APPLICATION.

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"Mascara face"—yeah, you know the one—seems like a universal phenomenon, yet no one seems to understand why people make it. It could be a reflex, or a more conscious effort to stretch one's face for better application. Either way, people seem to agree that it makes it easier to apply makeup. (Even though it looks pretty silly.)

9. AND MAINTAIN A STEADY HAND.

According to The New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration says scratched eyes from an errant mascara wand are the most common makeup-related injury.

10. LONG LASHES DON'T COME CHEAP.

Financial website Mint.com reports the average woman will spend $3,770 on mascara in her lifetime.

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For the First Time in 40 Years, Rome's Colosseum Will Open Its Top Floor to the Public
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The Colosseum’s nosebleed seats likely didn’t provide plebeians with great views of gladiatorial contests and other garish spectacles. But starting in November, they’ll give modern-day tourists a bird's-eye look at one of the world’s most famous ancient wonders, according to The Telegraph.

The tiered amphitheater’s fifth and final level will be opened up to visitors for the first time in several decades, following a multi-year effort to clean, strengthen, and restore the crumbling attraction. Tour guides will lead groups of up to 25 people to the stadium’s far-flung reaches, and through a connecting corridor that’s never been opened to the public. (It contains the vestiges of six Roman toilets, according to The Local.) At the summit, which hovers around 130 feet above the gladiator pit below, tourists will get a rare glimpse at the stadium’s sloping galleries, and of the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill.

In ancient Rome, the Colosseum’s best seats were marble benches that lined the amphitheater’s bottom level. These were reserved for senators, emperors, and other important parties. Imperial functionaries occupied the second level, followed by middle-class spectators, who sat behind them. Traders, merchants, and shopkeepers enjoyed the show from the fourth row, and the very top reaches were left to commoners, who had to clamber over steep stairs and through dark tunnels to reach their sky-high perches.

Beginning November 1, 2017, visitors will be able to book guided trips to the Colosseum’s top levels. Reservations are required, and the tour will cost around $11, on top of the normal $14 admission cost. (Gladiator fights, thankfully, are not included.)

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Archaeologists Discover Ancient Sunken City in the Mediterranean
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Courtesy of the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari

Early on July 21, 365 CE, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake shook the eastern Mediterranean, triggering a powerful tsunami. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was damaged, towns crumbled on the island of Crete, and the Roman port city of Neapolis, located on the coast of North Africa, was largely swallowed by the wave, according to historical records. Now, after being hidden under water for more than 16 centuries, the remains of Neapolis have been discovered by archaeologists off the coast of northeast Tunisia. This, according to the AFP, confirms accounts that the city was a casualty of the ancient natural disaster.

Following several years of exploration, researchers from the Tunisian National Heritage Institute and the University of Sassari in Italy have discovered nearly 50 acres of watery ruins near the modern-day city of Nabeul. They include streets, monuments, homes, mosaics, and around 100 tanks used to make garum, a fish-based sauce that was so popular in ancient Rome and Greece that it's been likened to ketchup. 

These containers suggest that Neapolis was likely a major producer of garum, making the salty condiment an integral part of the city's economy. "Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum," expedition head Mounir Fantar told the AFP.

Neapolis ("new city" in Greek) was originally founded in the 5th century BCE. While it was an important Mediterranean hub, its name doesn't appear too often in ancient writings. According to The Independent, it may because the city sided with the ancient city-state of Carthage—founded in the 9th century BCE by a seafaring people known as the Phoenicians—in the last of a series of three wars, called the Punic Wars, against Rome.

The Third Punic War stretched from 149 to 146 BCE, and led to the burning of Carthage. (It was later rebuilt as a Roman city by Julius Caesar.) Neapolis may have been punished for its wayward allegiance, which may explain why it's rarely mentioned in historical accounts.

You can view a video of the city's ruins below.

[h/t AFP]

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