History of Eyelash Extensions

Have you ever wondered where the idea of lash extensions originated? Who came up with this strange and wonderful idea in the first place? And how did we get to where we are today? This is the story of how modern eyelash extensions came to be.

Thick, luscious lashes have long been associated with a woman’s beauty. In paintings and art, enhanced lashes are used to bolster female sensuality or a sense of mystery. But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that eyelash extensions as we know them today got their humble (and sometimes horrific) beginnings.

The first known mention of eyelash enhancements is from 1879 when a man named James D. McCabe wrote The National Encyclopaedia of Business and Social Forms. In a section called “Laws of Etiquette,” he suggested that women should lengthen their lashes by trimming them. This would encourage the lashes to grow back thicker.

Over the next couple of decades, other fairly harmless techniques were tried and tested. Things like rubbing pomade on the lash line, or a mixture of water and walnut leaves. The jury is out on whether these methods were effective or not.

Eyelash Extensions a la mode in Europe

During this time, however, eyelash extensions went through a somewhat terrifying experimental phase. In Paris, eyelash “implants” were introduced. This technique meant literally sewing hair into the eyelid. This would be akin to modern day hair plugs… but on the eyelid! In the early 1900s when modern day sterilization techniques were not exactly widespread!

Thankfully these procedures did not gain much of a foothold, as safer topically applied eyelash extensions once again began to gather steam. A man named Charles Nessler created artificial eyelashes and began selling them at his London salon. Another influential lash inventor was Maksymilian Faktorowicz. It turns out this Polish beauty guru and businessman started a little company called Max Factor.

Finally, in 1916, lash extensions made it across the pond and landed in Hollywood when directors began demanding them on female actresses. Wig makers began creating prototypes of lash strips that were precursors to what we’re used to seeing today.

Eyelash Extensions Go Mainstream

Like any beauty trend, false lashes have come in waves. They were very popular in the 1930s, and again in the 1960s. During the mod era, lash extensions were highly exaggerated and eyes were further enhanced with thick liner (think Twiggy).

Lashes came back with a bang in the early 2000s. Having undergone some modern updates thought to have originated in Korea or Japan, lash extensions have taken a great leap forward in quality and design. Materials used now are either high quality synthetics, silk, human hair or mink, and they are lightweight and beautiful.

The technique has also improved greatly, and semi-permanent lashes have become wildly popular. Lash extensions as we know them today are applied individually to existing lashes with medical grade adhesive. They can be exaggerated and outrageously gorgeous, or simply make lashes look naturally more full.

We love arming ourselves with some history and knowledge so we can see how far we’ve come as an industry. If you have any questions or would like to know more about modern online eyelash courses, be in touch!

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