Sydell L. Miller, Self-Made Eyelash and Hair Care Mogul, Dies at 86

Sydell L. Miller, a self-made beauty mogul who went from the stay-at-home wife of a Cleveland salon owner to a Palm Beach mansion so immense that it was said to take an hour to walk through all of its rooms, died on Feb. 25 at her home in Cleveland. She was 86.

Her daughter Stacie Halpern confirmed the death. Ms. Miller had various health issues, including serious heart problems dating to the early 1990s; Ms. Halpern said that a combination of factors had recently caused her mother’s health to decline.

Ms. Miller and her husband, Arnold Miller, created two dominant brands: Ardell, the industry standard for abundant and shapely false eyelashes, and Matrix Essentials, which has often been described as the nation’s largest manufacturer of salon products and was the primary source of Ms. Miller’s fortune. In 1994, two years after her husband’s death, Bristol Myers Squibb bought Matrix from Ms. Miller for $400 million.

Matrix Essentials has often been described as the nation’s largest manufacturer of salon products. In 1994, two years after her husband’s death, Ms. Miller sold it to Bristol Myers Squibb.Credit…Matrix Essentials

Both companies made lasting changes to the way people worldwide get ready, both at home in front of a mirror and at a salon. The Millers invented the first pre-cut eyelash kit and false-eyelash strips, reducing procedure time from hours to minutes. They also changed how hairdressers colorize hair, creating cream-based (rather than liquid) dyes that allowed for precise application and giving hairdressers control over a range of mixable colors, as if they were painters — not aestheticians so much as aesthetes.

Paintbrush-like tools and color swatches that the Millers introduced are now familiar parts of salon routines; the couple also debuted products that made it easier to do some complex hair treatments, like a perm and a dye, in one trip.

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