We all know that eyelash extensions are a godsend to those who want bolder lashes, or to bring a fuller, natural look to their eyelashes. However, have you ever contemplated the history of eyelash extensions and who invented them?
Lash extensions definitely enhance the appearance of your eyes, making your eyelashes look longer and thicker, bringing out your eyes without all the fuss and lumpiness of mascara.
No wonder they are so popular today, with some form of eyelash extension being included in practically every beauty routine across the world. Have you ever wondered who you need to be thanking for the invention of eyelash extensions?
Well, eyelash extensions have a long and interesting history starting way over one hundred years ago – and surprisingly, long lashes haven’t always been as in fashion and as trendy as they are today.
Here, we are going to dive into the long history of lashes to find out the exact origins of eyelash extensions and learn an interesting thing or two about eyelashes along the way.
So, what is the complex history of eyelash extensions? Let’s find out.
The Early Beginnings Of Eyelash Extension Beauty History
Long and dark lashes have been an on-again-off-again desired feature of beauty for centuries, often falling in and out of fashion with each passing period.
They were desired by the ancient Egyptians and Romans, both taking to using burnt materials or kohl to darken their eyelashes to get that extended length look – creating the original mascara way before mascara as we know it was invented.
Ancient Egyptians also used kohl to darken their eyelids and eyebrows, believing that it would ward off evil, so the process of applying kohl around the eyes was adopted by both men and women alike.
But over time, the desire for long dark eyelashes fell out of fashion during the Middle Ages. The fashion was now large foreheads, egg-shaped faces, and small noses and lips.
Medieval people believed that this look was more attractive as it appeared purer and innocent, so a lot of medieval women took to plucking their eyebrows and eyelashes to draw attention to their foreheads.
So, for a while, eyelashes were out (literally pulled out) until they came back into fashion during the Victorian era.
During the 1800s, attitudes towards cosmetics shifted radically and now a lot of women were going to great efforts to get that long voluptuous eyelash look.
Some tried to make their own versions of mascara at home, mixing ash with elderberry juice, until modern mascara was invented by a chemist by the name of Eugene Rimmel.
Eugene Rimmel is considered to be the inventor of the first non-toxic mascara, using the newly invented petroleum jelly.
His invention became so successful that in many languages like Portuguese and Spanish, ‘Rimmel’ still translates to ‘mascara’ even to this day.
Eugene Rimmel became the founder of House of Rimmel cosmetics with his father, a company that still exists today.
Even without the application of mascara, longer eyelashes were still very much desired during the late 1800s.
People were recommended to try lengthening their eyelashes by cutting the ends off with scissors or washing them every evening with water and walnut leaves.
In 1882, there were even reports that women in Paris were sewing hair onto their eyelids in order for their eyelashes to look fuller – ouch!
It is clear that people were willing to go to extreme lengths just to get longer and fuller-looking eyelashes during the early 1900s, and mascara was just not enough anymore.
The market was ready for a new kind of cosmetic – and in 1911, the prayers of many women across the globe were answered.
What Is The History Behind The First Fake Lash Extensions?
So, when were eyelash extensions invented? Well, in 1911, a woman by the name of Anna Taylor patented the first artificial eyelashes.
However, fake eyelashes back then were very different to what we have today. Anna Taylor’s artificial eyelashes were a crescent-shaped strips of fabric that had tiny pieces of hair placed on them and these lash strips were then glued onto the eyelid.
These became known as the first known artificial eyelashes in history – but it would be a few years yet before they took the world by storm.
In 1916, a silent film called Intolerance was released, featuring an actress named Seena Owen playing an ancient Babylonian princess.
In order for Seena Owen to have the iconic large dark eyes associated with ancient Babylonians, the film’s director had a local wig maker start weaving artificial eyelashes using spirit gum and human hair – which left Seena Owen’s eyelids nearly swollen shut.
Despite this, Seena Owen’s long eyelashes were still admired across the world, and false eyelashes began to take off during the 1930s.
Women began to wear false eyelashes regularly and were often seen on film actresses in the latest movie hit, and eventually made their way into Vogue.
With the seal of approval stamped across them from the number one fashion magazine itself, dressed-up eyelashes had now cemented themselves as a mainstream fashion craze.
False eyelash extensions became a staple in beauty routines everywhere and were further popularized in the 1960s with the aid of models like Twiggy (although we’re betting she didn’t use human hair for her lash extensions).
The swinging sixties introduced a new fashionable look – big doll-like eyes that were framed with false eyelashes applied to the top and bottom lashes, fully engulfing a woman’s eyes in long beautiful lashes.
This trend took off, but it wasn’t accepted by all. Natural lashes became a thing of the past for many.
Feminism and women’s rights were quickly gaining traction in the late 1900s, and a lot of emphasis was placed on the high and sometimes unrealistic expectations of beauty placed on women.
In 1968, protestors at the Miss America contest symbolically trashed feminine cosmetic products into ‘Freedom Trash Cans’.
Among these cosmetic products were eyelashes, as many women began to feel frustrated at the lengths they felt pressured to go to in order to appear ‘beautiful’ to men.
But this did not stop the craze of eyelash extensions. Products like mascara and faux eyelashes continued to sell in huge amounts, making them some of the most popular cosmetic products in the world even today.
Modern Eyelash Extensions And Beyond
Time has not worn away the popularity of lash extensions. Instead, modern technology has only made them longer lasting and more accessible to a lot of people.
We also now opt for semi-permanent eyelash extensions and other treatment methods of boosting the lashes.
Things have changed a lot since Anna Taylor first brought artificial eyelashes into our lives.
In 2008, a Korean company began to create semi-permanent lash extensions that lasted just as long as our natural eyelashes do and resembled them so closely you could barely tell they weren’t real.
Even today, you can visit your local beauticians and have eyelash extensions applied to your face, giving you a totally natural look in a variety of styles. You can get lots of different styles to get those natural-looking lashes and you can also get nearly any color you can think of. If you are wanting a truly natural-looking extension you should go with brown eyelash extensions.
These semi-permanent lashes last around six to eight weeks as long as they are treated carefully, giving you longer-lasting falsies to maintain that eye-drawing look.
Eyelash extensions are on the rise thanks to semi-permanent applications, but that does not mean fake lashes such as strip lashes are being left behind.
They’re still a mainstream beauty ritual used by makeup artists, celebrities, and everyday people alike.
In fact, in 2014, a founder of a Miami-based cosmetics company invented magnetic false lashes. These lashes are considered the first patented artificial lashes that are entirely magnetic lashes.
They involve two layers of lashes that clip around your natural lashes without the need or use of glue. These magnetic eyelashes simply fit onto the existing lashes to compliment eye makeup and provide beautiful eyelashes that are long-lasting and highly alluring.
Those who struggle with allergies or reactions to eyelash glue could now also obtain that fuller eyelash look with ease.
As modern eyelash extensions continue to improve and advance, so do our techniques of getting longer, fuller looking eyelashes.
In more recent years, microblading has moved from brows to lashes, tattooing a thin line on your eyelid to give you a thicker eyelash look without even applying any makeup or eyelash extensions – a far cry from the years when women would glue human hair to their eyelids!
History Of False Eyelash Extensions Final Thoughts
To summarize, what we know from the history of eyelash extensions is that large lashes have long entranced the beauty industry and fashion industry.
Having large, alluring, and prominent eyes has been deemed attractive for centuries. As for what’s next in the world of eyelash beauty – who knows?
More people opting for permanent eyelash extensions could be just around the corner, or someone could be inventing a new way to apply individual eyelashes as we speak.
But whatever new eyelash trend comes next, we know for sure that it is going to be exciting to try it out…