Throughout history women have been going to great lengths in the name of fashion and beauty. One of the notable extremes is when English women in the Victoria era would bite their lips and pinch their cheeks to create a rosy glow to their face and mouth. During this time the Queen condemned the use of makeup and women resorted to this DIY solution. Like so many other beauty trends, products, and devices, lashes and lash extensions have a similarly interesting history.
This was a dark time for the lash community, and one of the few times in history when eyelashes were not considered ‘fashionable’. Women in high-society during this medieval time would often pluck their eyelashes and eyebrows.
Fortunately we have moved away from that beauty ritual, and since then long eyelashes have been a symbol of youth and are considered fashionable.
Women took their desire for long and luscious lashes to new extremes with pioneering treatments. One of these services involved transplanting hair from your head to your eyelids. I guess you could say this was the first attempt at eyelash extensions.
If you were in the market for a less-invasive beauty procedure, many women also opted for the earliest versions of false lashes. These were made from natural hair and attached to silk or gauze - but many women still found that they had difficulty getting them to stay on.
It wasn’t until the 1910s when a Canadian woman, Anna Taylor, patented false lashes. In 1916, false lashes made a Hollywood debut, when director D.W. Griffith was filming Intolerance and wanted actress, Seena Owen’s eyelashes to be “brushing her cheeks”. The film’s wigmaker glued lashes made of human hair onto the actresses eyelids using spirit gum. Thankfully we have come a long way as it relates to false eyelash application!
By the 1930s, false lashes were given the stamp of approval by Vogue magazine and promised women they could have lashes of “bewildering length.”
Throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, false eyelashes were associated with Hollywood glamour, innovation and youthful aesthetic. During this time plastic materials were introduced into the lash making process. The lashes became thinner and more durable, and this process is still how some are manufactured today.
In the early 2000s, we entered the modern era of false lashes and eyelash extensions. Unlike their predecessors, new technology meant these eyelash extensions were more advanced and much more precise. It is believed that this new wave of lash extensions was developed in Korea in the early 2000s, before becoming widespread in 2004.
Modern lash extensions have exploded in popularity and accessibility in recent years. Client’s are able to receive eyelash extensions in a wide variety of colours, styles, and materials - these modern styles are an extension of individuality and personality. These light weight and (more importantly) comfortable extensions are individual hairs which are applied to the existing lashes with adhesives.
With each advancement in technology, products, and procedures the lash community continues to embrace it and our client's do too! It is interesting to look back and see how far this industry has come from where it used to be. It is even more amazing to think about the possibilities for the future.