Why did they invent fake eyelashes?

In 1916, while shooting his film Intolerance, director D. Griffith wanted actress Seena Owen to have eyelashes that touch her cheeks, so that her eyes would shine brighter than life. The false eyelashes, which were made from human hair, were specifically woven piece by piece by a local wig manufacturer. In 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor patented artificial eyelashes for the first time, using a fabric crescent implanted with tiny hairs.

In 1915, Karl Nessler, a hairdresser known for his permanent waves, opened a hair salon in New York and sold eyelash services, promoting false eyelashes in his salon as, according to the New York Times, “a guardian against the glare of electric lights”. He also hired showgirls to sell them and beat customers. When you think of false eyelashes, what type of look comes to mind? Is it the modern and bad aesthetic that both sensual celebrities and influential people love? Is the explosive look of the 90s inspired recently by Pamela Anderson? Maybe it goes back even further: icons from the '50s like Sophia Loren, or even flappers from the (originals) crazy '20s. As with most beauty inventions, the history of false eyelashes—including the reason false eyelashes were invented—is a legitimately crazy story with experimentation, pseudoscience, and application methods bizarre enough to give even the most ardent beauty lovers goose bumps.

Today's path to fake ones may have been chaotic, but knowing it will make you even more thankful for the rows and rows of easy-to-use eyelashes that cover the shelves of every drugstore in the United States. Get ready: it's time to venture into the history of false eyelashes. While eyelashes serve some biological function by acting as an early warning system if debris, dust, or other foreign agents get too close to the important eyeball, their cultural importance is purely aesthetic. While they're not inherently feminine (everyone knows people of all genders with long, broad eyelashes), they're considered a feminine trait, though it's not entirely clear why.

Some experts theorize that it has to do with the relationship between youth and what society considers feminine beauty standards, while others speculate that long, dark eyelashes enhance the whites of the eyes and become a kind of indicator of health. However, the most accepted idea today is that long eyelashes simply make the eyes appear larger and, in most cultures, big eyes are one of the most important factors of “feminine beauty” in general. So it makes sense that the recorded use of false eyelashes dates back to the Roman Empire. Eyelash improvements, such as rudimentary masks and even curling tools, also have a long history in ancient and Ptolemaic Egypt, but it was a Roman philosopher (the first influencers, actually) who perpetuated the idea that eyelashes fall out with age and sexual promiscuity.

Suddenly, the Romans became very important to have the longest and most luxuriant eyelashes possible thanks to botanicals, kohl and even minerals. Eyelash trends came and went over the years (in medieval times, it was fashionable to shave them all together with the eyebrows to show the forehead, which was considered the sexiest part of the body long before the BBL), especially when reports appeared about a real application of eyelash extensions at the end of the 19th century in Paris, although its version requires needles that implant synthetic hair directly into the skin. Although this odious sewing was taking place in 1899, it wasn't long before a different interpretation of false eyelashes appeared, which look much more like modern false eyelashes. The first patent on false eyelashes was issued in 1911 to a Canadian woman, but five years later, it was an American film director named D, W.

Griffith, who was looking for a more dramatic and exotic look for his protagonist. Although the false eyelashes designed by the wig maker of the production were effective, since they were made of human hair and chewing gum, they were irritating and harsh. I can't imagine why. Perhaps the biggest change occurred when production materials were transferred to plastic in the 1950s.

Synthetic fibers, no different from today's most popular styles, were easy to reproduce and mass produce, which in turn made false use more regular and widespread. Nowadays, you can choose false eyelashes made of plastics and other synthetic materials, as well as real animal hair such as mink. They are considered essential to full-scale glamour for everyone from celebrities to teenagers on prom night. In 1911, a Canadian inventor named Anna Taylor patented artificial eyelashes.

His invention included glued eyelashes, or eyelashes in strips, which were thought to be made of human hair. A few years later, German hairdresser Karl Nessler provided false eyelash services at his New York salon. According to the New York Times, Nessler advertised his services as “a guard against the glare of electric lights.”. Ironically, false eyelashes were created as a way to show power and independence.

False eyelashes were also made to represent a woman's attractiveness in ancient times. Nowadays, eyelashes represent a woman's sense of independence and are used to enhance the eyes and show their beauty. What made them a generally better product in the 1950s was the introduction of plastic materials suitable for false eyelashes. Naturally, Hollywood stars of the 1940s and 50s loved good false eyelashes, and women like Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth wore them to photo shoots to make their eyes look bigger and, well, eye-catching.

However, false eyelashes were most likely invented as a beauty tool, given that throughout much of history (and until today) long eyelashes were considered desirable. Although the most iconic images of Twiggy showed her with eyelashes painted directly on her face, she also wore a lot of false eyelashes. It made us think, and it turns out that false eyelashes have a long and rather tortured history, dating back to ancient Rome. The introduction of false eyelashes contrasted directly with the 1400s, when women plucked their eyelashes to emphasize their forehead, which was considered their main beauty feature at the time.

The addition of these false eyelashes by Monroe and Hayworth made their eyes look fuller and more conspicuous, creating a wave of popularity. With such a dark and dangerous history and such an exhausting application, it's surprising that false eyelashes are so popular. It was extremely painful to use false eyelashes, and the glue often stuck the lashes to the user's natural lashes. Although magnetic eyelashes have become more popular since their invention, adhesive eyelashes are still the more widespread of the two.

And unlike the creepy fake human hair and needles of yesteryear, there's a type of false eyelash for every eye. Eyelashes with longer lashes were fully adopted as a fashion accessory in the early 1950s, when Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth used false eyelashes during photo shoots. . .

Briana Amass
Briana Amass

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