In the 1920s and ‘30s, a product called Lash Lure was manufactured as an eyelash and eyebrow dye for women. Advertisements for the product promised it would help consumers “radiate personality.” But the synthetic aneline dye contained a poison that caused ulceration of the corneas and degeneration of the eyeballs, leading to blindness and in at least one case, death. Soon thereafter, the product was taken off the market as an imminent danger to health.
Although the Lash Lure company soon went out of business, the FDA worked to ensure that no products using the chemical the Lash Lure product used would be able to be manufactured or marketed. In November of 1938 the agency issued a TC (Trade Correspondence), notifying the cosmetic trade that paraphenylenediamine (the active ingredient in Lash Lure) would be deemed illegal (adulterated) under the newly enacted 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The agency also announced that it had begun legal action against any products containing the ingredient still on the market and would begin similar actions on those containing the latter as well.