For all of our recent attempts at gender neutral and equality, there are certain products that are used mostly by women.
But surprisingly, many of those were designed by particularly insightful men—who knew not just what a woman wanted, but what she needed.
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The Tampax company was run by a rather formidable lady by the name of Gertrude Tendrich.
But the patent their prime product was based on was filed by a Colorado GP, Dr. Earle Haas. He sold the patent to Gertrude when he couldn’t get women to buy his product. He also pioneered the contraceptive diaphragm (and sold the patent for that off too for similar reasons).
Oddly, the modern pad is derived from something created by Benjamin Franklin. Yes. That Benjamin Franklin. The $100 dollar bill Benjamin Franklin.
He initially developed multi-level absorbent pads to block up battle wounds. Within a few decades, they’d been re-purposed and re-packaged for women’s use during that time of the month.
The Birth Control Pill
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The birth control pill was developed through two collaborations of gentlemen. Drs. Gregory Pincus and John Rock usually get the credit for the first oral contraceptive.
But the one most of us take today was a group effort by chemist Carl Djerassi, Dr. George Rosenkranz and their student, Luis E. Miramontes. Birth control as a concept was, however, pioneered by ladies and men.
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Coin purses and luggage have existed in one form or another for millennia. But the first order for something more akin to the modern handbag or pocketbook was placed by a British entrepreneur during the 1840s.
Candy magnate Samuel Parkinson demanded a moderately sized traveling bag for his wife’s personal effects. London leather goods company H.J. Cave & Sons complied with his order and then used it as the basis for the first line of modern designer hand bags.
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Cloth and silk stockings were floating around for a while—but were rather expensive luxury goods for most of their history.
But the male-run Dupont company is what made them mass producible. They quickly realized that the new nylon fabric they created would translate into ladies’ legwear and set up such successful marketing there was a post-war stocking-riot when they couldn’t keep up with demand.
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Two male designers both compete for the title of the creator of the modern bikini— and they are both French.
Jacques Heim and Louis Réard purportedly came up with the design at the same time in 1946.
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The Thigmaster was popularized by 70s sitcom star Suzanne Somers.
But the mastermind behind the clunky and bizarre exercise device was a gent by the name of Joshua Reynolds. Incidentally, he’s also the same guy who marketed the world mood rings.
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The synthetic hair dye that’s opened up such a wide arena of natural and unnatural coloring (for women and men) was also designed by a man.
French chemist Eugène Schueller developed the first recipe, and used it as the start up example for his new company—a little thing you might have heard of called L’Oreal.
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Most make-up only used to come in white (seriously, everyone in Queen Elizabeth’s court looked like terrifying white-faced mimes).
The first foundations were not just white, they were made up of a terrifying concoction of chemicals that burned out the skin of the lords, ladies, and performers that applied it regularly. Enter German actor Carl Baudin. He’s the guy behind flesh-toned grease-paint—the precursor to modern liquid foundation.
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Likewise, face powder also used to only come in one color: bright white. It wasn’t really useful for anyone but the palest of showgirls and geishas.
Early Hollywood cosmetician Max Factor grew frustrated with the lack of variability and created face powder in different skin tones. And then went on to found one of the world’s greatest cosmetics companies.
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Two other make-up magnates both technically invented mascara: one each on either side of the Atlantic.
At the same time perfumer-maker Eugene Rimmel was making mascara for his clients in Paris, American T. L. Williams created a recipe for his sister Maybel. Eugene went on to found Rimmel. And Williams and his sister created Maybelline.