Vintage Smokey Eye

Most of the tools to create the modern smokey eye were first developed in the 1920s. Taking a cue from the stage performers of the time, makeup artist and cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubenstein developed what we now recognize as the smokey eye.  Rubenstein, originally from Poland, immigrated to Australia and then the US in 1914. By 1915 she had opened salons in London, Paris and, New York. Helena was known for her style and elegance as a rising socialite and self-made millionaire.


She began her start in cosmetics in Australia, selling jars of beauty cream to women who were anxious to have skin as flawless as Rubinstein's. With her innovations in marketing, combined with her vision of cosmetics, Helena Rubinstein paved the way for the modern beauty industry.


Helena studied the smoldering lashes and brows she saw on stage and quietly practiced developing looks on herself and her more daring clients. Soon, the dye used for men's hair called mascaro was reborn as mascara and used to darken lashes. With taboos removed from using dark eye makeup, 1920s screen actresses such as Theda Bara revolutionized beauty. Theda was known for what we now know as the smokey eye.


Helena Rubinstein pioneered not only the cosmetics industry, but also our modern concept of beauty.

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