Fashion & Beauty

Whip Those Lashes Into Shape!

MASCARA? I’VE PLAYED WITH so many. High-end to low. But for maximum drama, I keep returning to the stuff in a cake–perhaps the only thing from the trendy-again ’70s that I can wear without looking ridiculous. My purple suede hot pants come immediately to mind.

A drip of water smudged around to make a nearly dry paste (spit works brilliantly too, but we won’t mention that), and there is nothing like cake mascara for creating the thickest lashes shy of falsies. Uppers and lowers.


Maybelline’s vintage cake mascara. / MyLittleBird photo.

It used to be easy to find, and so cheap! Maybelline had it in a little sliding drawer of a red case. A buck, maybe? Mary Quant was pricier but had the best brush–I still have it. Much like a baby-scaled toothbrush–if your baby has a particularly wide mouth. Tight bristles. Indestructible. Does 1968 qualify it as an antique?

Lancôme had one mascara with a little plastic comb on one side. I still have that too, though all of the plastic bits have broken off (how, I wonder? Was I cleaning the grout?).

Cake mascaras might be hard to exhume in stores, but they’re still easily findable online.

Longcils Boncza has been around for few decades. The Vermont Country Store has it for $39.95 plus shipping. It’s a tiny cake, though these things tend to last forever, so I guess that’s fair, to keep them in business. And it’s French, so add an immediate 50 percent markup. And they say it was a favorite of Marilyn Monroe’s (which goes to show just how far back this goes. MM would be pushing 90 this year).


Vintage Paula Dorf cake mascara, with brushes. / MyLittleBird photo.

Amazon has it too, but the Vermont Country Store is a trove of nearly forgotten treasures and far more fun. Tangee lipstick? Max Factor Pan Stick? White Shoulders Powder? They also have an assortment of flannel granny gowns, perfect for leafing through their website.

Though a bustier would be more appropriate attire for this mascara’s application. Marabou mules too, if you’ve got.

Internet marketer Makeup Mania has bars in black or brown for $8.50 from La Femme, which may or may not be French.

I haven’t tried either one of them, but the buyer reviews are positive.

Mine is from Paula Dorf, bought at Bluemercury in Georgetown at least 10 years ago. I don’t recall what it cost, maybe 15 bucks, but that doesn’t matter since it no longer exists except, perhaps, in a dusty corner of eBay. The .21 oz cake looks to have another 20 years’ worth of use. It came with a feathery brush that was for crap. But deploy my Mary Quant relic and, Hello, Twiggy!

–Stephanie Cavanaugh

2 thoughts on “Whip Those Lashes Into Shape!

  1. I thought I didn’t mention spit.

  2. Maggie Hall says:

    Cake mascara! Haven’t thought of it for years….. not true, everytime I clean out my make-up drawer I come across said stuff. Look at it, think no will never use it, but still hang onto it. But now going to get it out – spit on it and use! Thanks for reminding me how effective it really is….

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