In 1879, James D. McCabe wrote The National Encyclopædia of Business and Social Forms, where, in the section “Laws of Etiquette,” he stated that eyelashes could be lengthened by cutting the ends with a pair of scissors. Other beauty books, such as My Lady’s Dressing Room (1892) by Baronne Staffe and Beauty’s Aids or How to be Beautiful (1901) by Countess C also state that the trimming of eyelashes along with the use of the pomade Trikogene benefit eyelash growth. Countess C also suggested that eyelashes can be given extra length and strength by washing them every evening with a mixture of water and walnut leaves.
In 1882, Henry Labouchère of Truth reported that “Parisians have found out how to make false eyelashes” by having hair sewn into the eyelids. A similar report appeared in the July 6, 1899 edition of The Dundee Courier which described the painful method for elongating the lashes. The headline of which read, “Irresistible Ey es May Be Had by Transplanting the Hair.” The article explained how the procedure achieved longer lashes by having hair from the head sewn into the eyelids.
In 1902, German-born hair specialist and noted inventor Charles Nessler, (aka Karl Nessler or Charles Nestle) patented ” A New or Improved Method of and Means for the Manufacture of Artificial Eyebrows, Eyelashes and the like” in the United Kingdom. By 1903, he began selling artificial eyelashes at his London salon on Great Castle Street. He used the profits from his sales to fund his next invention, the permanent wave machine. A permanent wave machine was commonly called a perm that involves the use of heat and/or chemicals to break and reform the cross-linking bonds of the hair structure. In 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor patented false eyelashes in the United States. Taylor’s false eyelashes were designed using a crescent-shaped, strip of fabric. the fabric had tiny pieces of hair placed on them.
In 1916, while making his film Intolerance, director D.W. Griffith wanted actress Seena Owen to have lashes “that brushed her cheeks, to make her eyes shine larger than life.” The false eyelashes which were made from human hair was specifically woven piece by piece by a local wig maker. The eyelashes were adhered using spirit gum, commonly used for affixing wigs. One day Owen showed up to sit with her eyes swollen nearly shut, her costar Lillian Gish, wrote in her memoir.
By the 1930s, false eyelashes were becoming more acceptable for the average woman to wear. This shift in cultural opinion was largely due to the influence of film actresses, that were seen wearing them on screen. Featured in Vogue, false eyelashes had officially become mainstream and given the “Vogue” stamp of approval.
In the 1960s, false eyelashes became the centerpiece of makeup. During this era, eye makeup that gave women big doll-like eyes was very common. They achieved this look by applying false eyelashes on both the top and bottom eyelashes. Models like Twiggy, helped popularize this trend and is often associated with it.
In 1968 at the feminist Miss America protest, protestors symbolically threw a number of feminine products into a “Freedom Trash Can.” These included false eyelashes, which were among items the protestors called “instruments of female torture” and accouterments of what they perceived to be enforced femininity.
In 2008, Aesthetic Korea Co., Ltd. began to manufacture products as semi-permanent eyelashes became popular in Korea. Since then, several similar companies have started to set up, which has had a considerable impact on neighboring countries, including China and Japan. However, due to South Korea’s annual rise in labor costs, many manufacturers have moved from South Korea to China or Vietnam.
In 2014, Miami-based Katy Stoka, founder of One Two Cosmetics, invented the magnetic false lash as an alternative to those that utilize glue. Today magnetic eyelashes are becoming more and more common, with many mainstream brands like Ardell and To Glam, offering more affordable options. However, these are false eyelashes and not eyelash extensions.